NEP 2020: Education for Social Change

Developing a deep sense of respect towards fundamental rights, constitutional values, and a conscious awareness of responsibilities in a changing world
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Representational Image File/ GK

The new National Education Policy 2020 is based on the four pillars of education –access, equity, quality and accountability. The principle of this policy is to develop good human beings capable of rational thought and action; possessing compassion and empathy; courage and resilience; scientific temper and creative imagination with sound ethical moorings and values. It aims at producing engaged, productive and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive and plural society as envisaged by our constitution.

The vision of this policy envisages that the curriculum and pedagogy of our institutions must develop among the students a deep sense of respect towards the fundamental rights, constitutional values, bonding with one’s country and a conscious awareness of one roles and responsibilities in a changing world.

The vision of this policy is to instill among the learners a deep rooted pride in being Indian not only in thought but also in spirit, intellect and deeds.

A series of seminars and workshops have been conducted on NEP 2020 most of them have discussed the operational part how to implement the recommendations of the policy .The philosophical and theoretical part of this policy is yet to be debated. This article has been written from this theoretical perspective.

All the colleges and universities in the valley have to redesign there vision and mission document in light of NEP 2020. Establishment of department of philosophy in our universities will go a long way in understanding this policy in its philosophical perspective.

Orthodox education makes independent thinking extremely difficult. Orthodoxy leads to mediocrity. With growing age, dullness of mind and heart sets in. In seeking comfort, we generally find a quiet corner in life where there is a minimum of fight, and then we are afraid to step out of that solitude.

This fear of life, this fear of struggle and of new experience, slays in us the spirit of adventure; our whole upbringing and education have made us scared to be different from our neighbor, afraid to think divergent to the established pattern of society, deceptively respectful of authority and tradition.

Luckily, there are a few who are willing to re-examine our human problems without prejudice but in the huge majority of us, there is no real spirit of dissent. When we surrender uncomprehendingly to environment, any spirit of revolt in us dies down, and our responsibilities soon put an end to it.

What are we living and struggling for? If we are being educated just to achieve distinction, to get a better job, to be more competent, to have wider authority over others, then our lives will be shallow and void.

Though there is a higher and wider meaning to life, of what value is our education if we never discover it? We may be highly qualified, but if we are without deep integration of thought and feeling, our lives are incomplete, contradictory and torn with many fears; and as long as education does not nurture an integrated outlook on life, it has very little meaning. In our present civilization we have divided life into so many compartments that education has very little meaning, except in learning a particular technique or profession.

Instead of awakening the integrated outlook of an individual, education is encouraging him to conform to a set pattern and so is hindering his process of self –realization. Education should work for the integration of these separate entities - for without integration, life becomes a series of conflicts and sorrows.

Of what value is it to be trained as lawyers if we perpetuate litigation? Of what value is knowledge if we continue in our confusion? What significance has technical and industrial capacity if we use it to destroy one another? What is the point of our existence if it leads to ferocity and utter misery?

Though we may have money or are capable of earning it, though we have our material pleasures but intrinsically we are unhappy. All of us have been trained by education and environment to seek personal gratification, and to fight for ourselves. Education is not merely a matter of training the mind.

Training makes for efficiency, but it does not bring about wholeness. A mind that has merely been trained is the appendage of the past, and such a mind can never discover the new. To most of us, the meaning of life as a whole is not of primary importance, and our education emphasizes secondary values, merely making us proficient in some branch of knowledge.

Though knowledge and efficiency are necessary, to lay chief stress on them only leads to conflict and confusion. There is an efficiency stirred by love & empathy which goes far beyond and is much greater than the efficiency of ambition; and without love, which brings an integrated understanding of life, efficiency breeds ruthlessness.

Is this not what is actually taking place all over the world? Our present education is geared to industrialization its principal aim being to develop efficiency; and we are caught in this cog of ruthless competition and mutual destruction.

If education paves for war, if it teaches us to destroy or be destroyed, has it not utterly failed? To bring about right education, we must obviously understand the meaning of life as a whole, and for that we have to be able to think, not prejudicially, but directly and truly.

A prejudiced thinker with hate deep rooted in his DNA is a thoughtless person, because he is a blind imitator of a set pattern; he repeats phrases and thinks in a groove. We cannot understand existence abstractly or theoretically.

To understand life is to understand ourselves, and that is both the beginning and the end of education. Education is not merely acquiring knowledge, gathering and correlating facts; it is to see the meaning of life as a whole.

The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated and therefore intelligent. We may take degrees and be mechanically efficient without being bright. Intelligence is not mere information; it is not derived from books, nor does it consist of clever self-defensive responses and aggressive assertions.

One who has not studied may be more intelligent than the learned. We have made examinations and degrees the criterion of intelligence and have developed cunning minds that avoid vital human issues. Education should help us to discover lasting values so that we do not merely cling to formulas or repeat slogans; it should help us to break stereotypes and barriers, instead of emphasizing them, for they breed hatred between man and man.

Unfortunately, the present system of education is making us subservient, mechanical and deeply thoughtless; though it awakens us intellectually, inwardly it leaves us incomplete, stultified and uncreative. Without an integrated understanding of life, our individual and collective problems will only deepen and extend.

The purpose of education is not to produce mere sermon scholars, technicians and job hunters, but integrated men and women who are free of fear; for only between such human beings can there be enduring peace. It is in the understanding of ourselves that fear comes to an end.

If the individual is to grapple with life from moment to moment, if he is to face its intricacies, its miseries and sudden demands, he must be infinitely pliable and therefore free of theories and particular patterns of thought.

Education should not encourage the individual to conform to society or to be negatively harmonious with it, but help him to discover the true values which come with unbiased investigation and self-awareness. When there is no self-knowledge, self-expression becomes self-assertion, with all its aggressive and ambitious conflicts.

Education should awaken the capacity to be self-aware and not merely indulge in gratifying self-expression. What is the good of learning if in the process of living we are destroying ourselves? As we have been the victims of sustained conflict for decades there is obviously something radically wrong with the way we bring up our children.

I think most of us are aware of this, but we do not know how to deal with it. Systems, whether educational or political, are not changed mysteriously; they are transformed when there is a fundamental change in ourselves. The individual is of first importance, not the system; and as long as the individual does not understand the total process of himself, no system, whether of the left or of the right, can bring order and peace to the world.

Hordes of students are graduating every year from these institutions ready to join the workforce without any kind of formal training to be an ethical citizen who appreciates the pluralistic nature of our country. Every day we read on social media, newspapers few officials caught red-handed by anti-corruption bureau accepting bribe, these case studies should be deterrent but new cases of corruption in exponential form are reported next day.

Why people do not take heed or learn and continue with these unethical practices, the reason is we have devalued education and confined it to skill and training. The purpose of life is created through constant service to those around us. One of the master keys to lifelong success is service to others and this will profoundly improve the quality of your own life.

Do not let even a single day slip by without practicing “random acts of kindness. Make service an important goal in your life. I conclude with the lines of Tagore: Education means enabling the mind to find out that ultimate truth which emancipates us from the bondage of dust and gives us wealth not of things but of inner light, not of power but of love.

It is a process of enlightenment. It is divine wealth. It helps in realization of truth. The aim of education is to bring about perfection of man by dispelling ignorance and ushering in the light of knowledge.

Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Coordinator Institute of Correspondence Education , University of Kashmir

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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