Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man

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In this essay…

  1. From all-round development to clerical education: A historical context
  2. Understanding of Swami Vivekananda
  3. Man making education in action: Just soul and Just society
  4. Full Throttle: Efforts by India and the world
  5. What should be done?

This statement of Swami Vivekananda is a part of the letter written by him. Later, It was published in the works of Swami Vivekananda. It reflects that he was concerned with the existing system of education. According to him, the existing system of education is not able a person to stand on his own feet. It lacks the potential to inculcate self-confidence and self-respect. For him, education is an assimilation of noble ideas.

In this essay, we are going to discuss – Historical discussions on the nature of the education system, What are his dissents with the existing system of education?, What is Vivekananda’s vision of man-making education?, What steps were taken by the government and the world, and What else needs to be done?

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From all-round development to clerical education: A historical context

Nobel laureates, Amartya Sen in his book “Argumentative Indians” claims that there has been a long tradition of deliberations in India since ancient times. For example, Nalanda and Takshashila was the famous center of learning. Secular subjects were taught like Grammar, logic, epistemology, physical education, mental education, and sciences. Active discussions and debates were taking place. The system focuses on the all-around development of students.

During the medieval period, instead of secular subjects, religious education took the central stage. Reflection of the dark ages was witnessed in India also. Reasons were replaced with religion. Social stigma, superstitions, and patriarchy started taking center stage. For example, Purdah/Ghunghat system, and untouchability were exercising against women and “untouchables” respectively. However, emperor, Akbar tried to secularize the education system by adding other philosophies like Hinduism in Madarsas.

In the middle of the medieval age, the British invaded India and laid the foundation of modern education. Under Charter Act 1813, Rs 1 lakh was released for the development of education in India. There was two school of thoughts – Anglicists and Orientalists. Orientalists wanted universal and modern education with the help of vernacular language. Anglicists wanted to impart education to limited people and expected it to trickle down to the bottom i.e. Top-down approach. At the end of the debate, Anglicists won.

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Understanding of Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda’s dissent with the education system is in the context of the education system that prevailed during the British period. The objective of the education system under British India was though modern but was not focusing on man-making education. It was started with the narrow vision to create a middle class who could help them in connecting with the masses and sustaining colonialism. It serves only the purpose of the colonial master and failed on expressing the qualities already existed in a man.

According to Vivekananda, the word ‘manifestation’ implies that education already exists in man and it is waiting to be expressed properly. Knowledge is inherent in man and it needs not be exported from outside. It is opposite to Plato’s idea of the “myth of metal” where Plato described the education system which distinguished people into – Man of Gold, Man of Silver, and Man of Copper. But ideas of Swami Ji indicate that all people are born with the same intellect. The only difference is that how a mentor (Parents and Teachers) removes all obstructions from the way.

It also indicates that education should be evolved from the bottom. Education should be imparted in the vernacular languages so that the popular masses can relate to the core easily. The central idea of education is to learn the values and languages are merely medium to understand education. Those values are important for the people which would make man in real sense and would not merely be limited to create clerks. It would build the capacity of inquiry, scientific temper, critical thinking, and reasoning.

Man making education in action: Just soul and Just society

The idea of Vivekananda’s education would create a just soul in the man. At the individual level, people would refrain from involving in corrupt practices. It is because corruption germinates in the heart and minds of the people. Laws can reduce them up to a certain extent. But eradication from the root requires a man-making education as expressed by Swami Vivekananda. Just soul would reduce violence by the strong against the weak since people would wither away from the veil of ignorance. Thus, it would lead to a harmonious and peaceful society in India.

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Plato in his book “Republic” pointed out – “State is individual writ large.” It means State is nothing but the reflection of individual people living in the state. Thus, a just soul would make a just society. If people would be corruption-free, then the state would also be free from the shackle of corruption. Just soul would choose ‘just leadership’ that would take care of the society. Just leaders would practice the idea of ‘Talisman’ which means the policy would be inclusive and special attentions would be paid to the weaker section of society.

‘Just soul’ followed by just state would make effort to create a ‘just world.’ That would be the perfect time to express India’s idea of ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam‘ (The whole world is like a family). It would imagine a peaceful and properly ordered state. It would be free from terrorism, violence, forced displacement, and ethnic conflicts.

Full Throttle: Efforts by India and the world

At the national level, the New Education policy 2020 is a step in the right direction. There is no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular activities, and vocational streams in schools. It has clearly stated the objective to achieve a 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030. It emphasizes the primary education should be taught in vernacular languages.

Vocational training is supposed to start from class 6 under the new education policy 2020. Apart from this, the Government has started the Manodarpan initiative to provide psychosocial support to students, family members, and teachers. Apart from this, CBSE has also made health and physical education compulsory from class 1 to class 12. Thus, health education, yoga, and physical education would lead to the holistic development of a learner i.e. physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual.

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At the international level, the World Bank works closely with the developing country in improving the quality of education. For example, its “star programs” is committed to improving the quality and governance of school education. In 2015, UNGA set up Sustainable Development Goal 4 for ensuring quality education by 2030. Apart from this, UNESCO is also committed to ensuring quality education for all and lifelong learning.

What should be done?

There should be clear-cut objectives of the education system. A painter needs to know what he/she is planning to paint. It should be such that it discovers the inner self i.e. self-revelation. The maximum focus should be on the values rather than merely information. Otherwise, information would jam the learner’s mind and obstruct the capability to learn values. It should involve in the overall development of the learner – physical, mental, and spiritual and not merely limited to exams.

Therefore, the duty of the teachers and parents is to remove all obstructions from the way whose end objective is Sachidanand (One with a good mind and who is happy). To achieve Sachidanand, one should give up ignorance, arrogance, and false identifications like caste, race, and culture. Article 51A explores the fundamental duty of a citizen to develop a scientific temper that helps in developing Humanism and Spirit of inquiry which is nothing but the ‘Man making education’ as imagined by Swami Vivekananda.

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