I am presenting here a brief outline of the reforms that I believe are urgently needed in the educational system prevailing in India. What I am proposing is probably somewhat radical and therefore needs to be handled with caution and care. Yet a beginning has to be made and it must done right now.
Declare clearly the aims of education.
- The aim of education is to help the child to develop his physical, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, moral, spiritual being and his communal life and impulses out of his own temperament and capacities or in other words to follow his swadharma.
- to teach the child to know himself and choose his own destiny and the path he will follow.
The fulfilment of these aims will be based on the following principles:
- The education should be integral or holistic, that is to say, that all the parts of the being should be given full scope for development. These parts are: the body, the life-energy, the mind and the deeper spiritual element present in each human being.
- The teacher is not an instructor or task master, he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupil’s mind; he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process.
- The child has to be consulted in his growth.
- The third principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be.
Once this is accepted, the first thing to be done is to understand these principles with all their implications and then to find means of implementing them on the national scale.
- Since education is to be integral, the following steps have to be taken immediately.
- Physical education must be made compulsory in all schools right up to class 12.
- It will consist of health training and skill training.
- Health training will include cleanliness, correction of physical defects at an early age, and development of good habits.
- Skill training will give skills in different sports activities while at the same time stressing on physical fitness, strength, endurance, grace and harmony of movements. A graded series of physical fitness tests is attached.
- The sporting spirit must be inculcated in children at this age. It is of great importance and will help the individual to face life.
Vital education will consist of two important parts:
- Development of character or to put it in the words of Swami Vivekananda – man making – through self observation, self discipline, self regulation leading to self control and finally self mastery. External control by imposed discipline although indispensable at the beginning does not yield sure results. Detailed steps to attain this inner self control are attached.
- The aesthetic sense or the sense of beauty has to be assiduously developed by exposing the child to all forms of art; at the same time stress must be laid not only on external beauty but also beauty of thoughts, sentiments and emotions. A developed sense of beauty helps greatly in the formation of Character.
Mental education will consist of the following:
- Training of the instruments of knowledge. The first step in training of the senses.
- The development of the power of concentration. This is the key to any progress in all fields.
- The development of: The power of reasoning, the power of comparison and differentiation and the power of expression. Expression includes not only writing and speaking but also dramatics, art and various other forms.
- At the same time show that the mind and intellect are not the highest instruments of knowledge. There are higher ranges accessible to man which can be attained through spiritual discipline.
Spiritual training will be given in the following ways:
- No compulsion of any kind, only exposure to the finest examples of spiritual lives from all the religions and spiritual disciplines.
- Every effort must be made to create a spiritual atmosphere in the schools; this is the most powerful influence, far more powerful than words and lectures.
- A deep sense of patriotism where one explains that India is a living soul Bharat Mata by exposing the child to the most inspiring stories of Indian history.
The content of education in the fields of science and technology has to be constantly upgraded with all the new developments taking place in the world.
The content of books in the field of culture which include History, Sociology, Politics, Psychology and such other subjects should be thoroughly revised in the Indian light; this has to be done without being narrow and chauvinistic. This is of great importance so that not only do the children know about their culture but also develop a sense of pride in their culture.
- It has been stated that the child must be consulted in his growth; how do we implement that for in the present system the syllabus is fixed for all children. They have no choice in what they want to study. In order to remedy this situation the following suggestions are being made.
- All children must be given a wide base of knowledge in the most important subjects; these should include three languages, mother tongue, Sanskrit and English. Sanskrit should be taught till this stage in the conversational form. The other subjects are: a reasonable grounding in mathematics, a basic course in all sciences and stressing the development of the scientific spirit, a good knowledge of history and geography and the science of collective living. This should be made compulsory till the age of 14+
- After the age of 14, one should start giving freedom to the students to choose their subjects; but this will only apply to those who know how to use their freedom. Those who are not capable of self discipline and therefore unable to use their freedom properly should be asked to continue in the compulsory system. As and when these children show that they are capable of self discipline, they should be given more freedom in a phased manner. The whole intention is to make the child responsible for his own education and later of his own life.
But far more important is the realisation that it is not enough to develop the mental and academic qualities alone; this knowledge has to be applied to life. Life is a very important component of education, particularly the application of knowledge to life. In a sense the life of every day is the best education.
It is very important that in the evaluation of a child all the parts of the being should be taken into account. It is not enough to look only at the academic aspects as is generally done now. A good carpenter or mason is as important as a scholar. The total personality of the child should be the basis of evaluation.
It is suggested that one should abolish final exams which decide the fate of a child as it is done now in class 10 and 12. Instead one should judge the performance of the child throughout the year taking into account all aspects of the child’s work and personality. It is understood that there can be tests during the year which might include surprise tests etc. With a little imagination on the part of the teacher, these tests can be made very interesting and enjoyable and can reveal a good idea of the child’s capacities. Consequently the degrees and certificates given to students do not always reflect their true merit; it is high time that we devise a more reliable and accurate system of evaluation.
Tests must not become a source of tension; education must become a joy and not a burden.
It is also very important that computer education should be started in early childhood and that the child should be exposed to the latest technological developments.
In order to implement these concepts it is very important to organise a programme of Teachers Training throughout the country; in this context taking help of the internet will be useful. They are one of the most important factors in the education system.
Another suggestion is to start pilot projects is some schools all over the country. It might be good to have one in each State of India. There are already many forwarding looking schools in India but they are all inhibited by the present system. Once the green signal of support is given by the Government of India, the results will be visible in a short time. This will have a cascading effect in other schools.