ICPR - Value Education 22 July 2004 - Audio

Dr. Mishraji, Dr. Vyas and Friends, I must first of all express my gratefulness to Rooprekhaji for having delivered a great address. Mine will be only comments on the seminar as a whole and some of the lessons that have emerged from it. Personally I have learned a great deal from this seminar. This morning we had particularly two very brilliant speeches, one which was the introductory speech of our Chairman, who presided over the meeting in the first session, the second was of Professor Mishraji who specially dilated upon Buddhism and showed the relevance of Buddhistic ethics. Yesterday too, we had very insightful statements from a number of participants. Dr Rakesh Chandra also presented a very powerful statement on the various issues on value education.

I have always preferred the expression value-oriented education instead of value education, the reason being that value education tends to become what Rooprekhaji says do's and don'ts, and it is a very controversial subject as to what we should prescribe. As I said in the morning, value-oriented education, we have been discussing for the last 25 years in our country in a very rigorous manner, and we have still not succeeded in giving any kind of form to any program of value-oriented education. The latest effort made by the government of India was that of Verma Commission of the last year of the last century. It was a commission to study how fundamental duties can be incorporated in our curriculum. This morning, we were told also that the constitutional preamble lays down certain principles, certain ideals which we as a nation have accepted. This is also the point which was made by Rooprekhaji just now.

It appears that there is a convergence in our country in regard to the values that have been enshrined in the preamble to the constitution, particularly in regard to liberty, equity, justice, even equality and fraternity. We also speak today of universal declaration of human rights and they also underline values in regard to which there is convergence of the whole world today.

In 1971, UNESCO had made a survey of the trends of educational thought all over the world and, as a result, UNESCO brought out a very important document called Learning to Be which presented to the whole world a goal of education which was summarized in the phrase “complete education for the complete man”. In 1996, UNESCO produced another document which is called Learning:Treasure Within, and the most important part of that document was a reference to what they called four pillars of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be. UNESCO itself is dedicated to two important values: international understanding and peace.

During the last decade, a non-organized, non-governmental organization, but an international organization had set up very high powered commission to consider responsibilities of man. It also produced a very powerful and very useful document. It underlined what they call the golden rule, namely: do unto others what you want others to do unto you. This is what they call the golden rule of responsibilities’ starting point.

This is just to show that all over the world there is today a great search to provide meaningful education to a dimension which is felt to be extremely important and, at the same time, which is extremely difficult to conceive and to propose. The difficulties which are involved In regard to this dimension have been just now spelt out quite well by professor Rooprekha Vermaji, and, as she pointed out, the difficulties are basically two and which, if I translate in my own language, it can be said that the difficulties are central to what may be called pluralistic society, and today the whole world is tending towards a pluralistic society.

A pluralistic society has a further complication when that society establishes a common school system in which students, irrespective of race, religion, language, without any kind of discrimination is admitted, and the question is also related to the claims of various metaphysical systems. Various religious systems, various ethical systems, which claim to be non-metaphysical and also claims which come from concerns for cultures and preservation of cultural identity. When we examine these problems, the solutions to the value education are extremely difficult. Even what is proposed in terms of values on which we converge in terms of constitutional prescriptions or prescriptions of public morality or concerns which have been generally admitted in terms of duties or responsibilities, even when this is done, there is a great dissatisfaction. It is felt that what human beings really want to develop among children is missed. What is being given to children is wishy-washy: this is good, that is good, that is fine. But what we really want to develop among children, in fact each religion wants certain specific things to be developed with a special fervour. Each ideology wants certain values to be inculcated with a special fervour, and this in a common school in a progressive society is not possible because of opposition that will come from conflicting and rival theories. This is where we are.

This is complicated by the practical facts which were just now illustrated by Rooprekhaji, the hypocrisy in the society. She gave an example as to how a parent encourages a child into some kind of dishonesty, even by means of agreement when the child has cheated somebody and brought an advantage about of a few paisa from a shopkeeper. In the name of morality we tend to promote immorality and then she also pointed out the question of timetable. To imagine that, within one period in a day, you will be able to convey the moral fervour of the great dimension of human personality. Are we not cheating ourselves by making such propositions? In fact, she is not so drastic in her statement, but I can understand the thrust of her argument. Are we really sincere about all that we are talking about? She pointed out, and I particularly agree with it that if you want morality to be limited to a morning prayer and evening prayer, whereas we do not concern ourselves with what we do throughout the whole day and if this is the kind of pattern of life that we are going to prescribe to our children through educational system, are we really serving the country in the highest way?

I think the basic question is something of the kind, and I think this question is very sharp and has to be answered. It is in the search of a true answer to these questions that at least Indian Council of Philosophical Research should raise fundamental questions. For politicians it is quite alright to speak of this or that this ideology or that ideology, but as philosophers our duty is much more onerous. We have to be truly sincere in answering these questions and, if ICPR has undertaken this task of philosophy of value-oriented education, it is in that spirit and what was very valuable for me during this particular seminar, was that this seminar was not devoted to any particular ideology. In fact, this seminar has underlined the need to liberate value-oriented education from what may be called dogmas of all kinds. But the moment you speak of liberation from dogmas, the task becomes very difficult because normally many values have been so far advocated under the shadow of dogmas. Therefore, a fresh thinking becomes very necessary.

Let me conclude by saying that this exercise should continue to reflect on value-oriented education is itself a value-oriented task. The fact that there is a council of philosophy in India, which is seriously thinking and inviting philosophers to think on this question seriously and impartially dispassionately, is itself a very valuable exercise, what I call value-oriented exercise.

I am very thankful to all who have participated in this seminar. There are many more during the last two days than those who are present now, and I am happy that all of you came here spent your time with us and gave valuable suggestions and, more importantly, gave us the benefit of your high level thinking on this very important subject. We shall continue this kind of a program.

Personally, I am not disappointed in promoting the task of value-oriented education in our country. Value is a very important dimension of human personality, however difficult the task may be, that task must be performed and must be performed by the best minds of the country, and even though we may not be able to give answers to the questions now, even to raise questions is itself of very great importance. Once again, I should like to thank all of you and hope that when we hold another seminar of this kind, you will let us know if you can join us we shall like to invite you once again, and in fact this is only a consultation seminar, but we want to hold in Lucknow at least a major seminar on this subject for about three to four days, and we want to invite many educationists philosophers, psychologists and experts In pedagogy.

I think pedagogy of value education is a neglected subject. Just as pedagogy of philosophy also is a neglected subject. Even today we do not know how to teach philosophy. We are teaching in the ordinary manner as we teach every other subject, but I personally feel that philosophy requires a very special way, a special pedagogy, just as swimming cannot be taught by lecturing, every subject has its own pedagogy, swimming has to be taught by sending the child straight into the water and to be with the child. Similarly, in the case of value education, a new technique has to be evolved, a new pedagogy has to be evolved and I think maybe it may take 20 years, 25 years, the valuable thought on this subject should be collected. Certain ordinary subjects are very, very difficult.

For all your contributions I feel very thankful. On behalf of ICPR. I should like to thank everyone who has come here. Professor Mishraji, I would like to say that your lecture was so brilliant this morning and we were all uplifted. I should also like to thank Dr. Agneyaji, who also introduced the subject this morning so brilliantly. Many of you have put very striking questions, penetrating questions, and I welcome them also very much. Dr Mukherjee would like to present the vote of thanks.