To my parents, thanking them for their good sense, for had they not been so, I would not have been able to write this at all.
“What is education?”, I asked P.T., my oldest-and now settled in Canada-friend.
“I guess its school and college, test and exam, certificate and degree”, he replied. “You know, all that boring stuff.”
However, as I lay down to sleep that night, that seemingly simple question haunted me and my friend’s answer got me thinking.
Is education just about school and college, test and exam? Is its purpose so shallow or is there nota higher meaning attached to it?
That a huge majority of people hold my friend’s view is more than just obvious. Society considers a matric pass to be more educated than an illiterate. Similarly, a degree holder is more educated than a matric pass and a 95% scorer is definitely more valued than a 75% one.
Society is of course right in adopting this approach, for it creates standards which must e met and which, if met, augur well for a person as far as his/her economic condition is concerned.
However, what I feel is that society cannot be justified for calling each and every degree holder or matric pass person as educated.
According to me, education has a far greater meaning than just what our parents and friends would have us believe, for just as it is about ‘all that boring stuff’, it is (or should be) also about acquainting students with the finer aspects of human nature (such as kindness, compassion and honesty), imbibing in them a sense of what is right and what is wrong and sensitising them towards the plethora of problems that mankind faces today and making them realise the individual’s role in solving them.
So perhaps what we consider as education is just the process of getting literate, partially or fully as the case may be. The wisdom and foresight that comes with education has perhaps nothing to do with the subtle art of scoring in exams. If this be the case (and I strongly feel that it is), then all of us ought to stop, introspect and pose that dreadful question to ourselves- “Am I educated?”
Let me give an example of two men whom I happened to come across.
The first one is an amiable man, ever so polite in his manner and ever so witty in his speech. He works hard, is honest and true of heart. This man is a rickshaw puller, an illiterate person from one of the lowest strata of Delhi’s many layered society.
The second is a boisterous person, vulgar in his behaviour and totally unruly in his conduct. His speech is always graced with the most unutterable of swear words that were ever made. This man is a class fellow of mine, a person from a well to do, respectable middle class family.
Who would you consider more agreeable, more likeable, in fact, the better human being- the unlettered, but yet humble rickshaw puller or the so called educated, but yet atrocious middle class lad?
There is something fundamentally wrong with a society that scoffs at the poor rickshaw puller, but showers praise on the rowdy school boy as long as he continues to score (which, considering the technological advances made in the still more subtle art of cheating, is not so difficult!).
It is clear that education and the process of getting literate are two different phenomena, though slightly inter-connected. Therefore, the question worth asking is this- If schools don’t educate, then what does?
To me, the answer lies in that most primitive of human creations that has uptill now stood the ravages of about 10,000 years worth of time and provided the foundation for human society to grow and to flourish- the family.
It is undeniable that a strong, sensible family gives a stable and fruitful environment for children to grow, and resultantly, get educated. It is also undeniable that a weak family deprives children of the essential atmosphere for their stable growth.
Therefore, if the system is churning out such mammoth proportions of uneducated literates, then it is not just the fault of the so called temples of learning that have converted into temples of Mammon, but also the current generation of parents who look inside just the report card and not the heart.
To be literate is easy enough. To be educated is what is challenging.