Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture. (SAIIC) Shillong workshop, 26,Oct -7 Nov, 2006 - 29. Core Program for Value-Education

You are preparing education for animals, because animals are only living for jeevika. If that is our goal of life, nothing great about it, even without preparing anything, God sees to it that everyone is provided for, in some way or the other. But if you want to do something, as a human being himself said, man is more than animal. In what ways is he more, therefore, if we are only to have economic power as a goal, we are creating a nation of animals. This is what Sri Aurobindo calls economic barbarism. A barbarian looks after only his health, his longevity, hunting, eating, sleeping, procreating, that is all. It’s not difficult to make it, even by plundering you can do it, but man is something else. He is not here for that purpose and that aim, if you forget it and she agreed with me, I’m very happy. She was so much consonant because she was a real pupil of Tagore. I tell you, from all my talks with her I found whenever I spoke to her, she was talking in terms of Tagore. She was vibrant; people do not know Indira Gandhi as an educationist. Even an extempore talk on education, she was profound. Unfortunately, we have not collected her speeches on education anywhere. I wish we had. It would have been a great gift to India. She agreed fully. So I said I will write speeches for you. You kindly broadcast at least six speeches and she agreed on one title: Sovereignty of the Child. Just to indicate that not only for teachers, child is the focus, but for the whole nation, everywhere, wherever you go. The entire society should so live that children are educated properly, a pledge to be taken by every citizen, every citizen is accountable for the education of the children. And secondly, I told her, we should have a tremendously powerful training program of teachers. One of the weakest points in our whole planning in our country is the poverty of training. There is no institution in our country, if, for example, you want to give a message to all the teachers of Meghalaya state. Supposing you want to do it, one message, one day, you want to bring all the teachers at one place. We have no infrastructure for that, and this is true of every part of India. One single day can make a difference to all the teachers of the country, provided your infrastructure to bring all the teachers in one place. I would like millions of teachers to come together and speak in one voice and see the vibrations and thundering that can come out for the whole nation. You bring some profound teachers to train; even one million teachers can be taught in one single time.

Yesterday, Dr Verma demonstrated how he made all of us work like children, one single day of a training program ‒you can never forget, finished. Now what she can do for 20 teachers here can be done for millions at the same time, there’s no problem. You organise the whole thing in such a way: pre-arrange everything and your message is ready and one million teachers can be trained. There are many ways of training teachers and we have no infrastructure anywhere in the country, because you never thought that teachers are so important and the teacher training is so important and she agreed with me. She said. Yes, we should create very great infrastructures, but she said what I want is to create a program of teachers training, so that the teachers who become teachers first, pre-service. So I prepared a report for her, she approved of it, till today it remains unimplemented. I told her the teacher's training program should remain for five years, after class 12, and students should decide whether he wants to be a teacher in his life.

Dr Khothari, I had a lot of discussions with each other, one of my great friends; we had meetings every day actually. He was a great teacher himself, but this five years training program I had envisaged, surpassed all these calculations of training programs, therefore, people don't take it up easily. Because it is a costly affair I had proposed. But I have said: unless the nation is prepared to pay heavily in training of teachers, you are not making investment properly in education. You can build thousands of universities, but if your teachers are not well trained, all your universities are waste, it's unproductive. So five years training program, and each one should be given a stipend during five years time. It’s a costly affair. If you want the best young students to come to the teaching profession, you should give a kind of a stipend, so that they can sustain a five-year program of learning and teaching. But during this five years program, you give integral education, education of the body, education of emotions, education of aesthetics, education of morals, education of scientific temper, education of philosophic temper, education of the soul of man. An integral system of education should give to every teacher in our country. A sick and unhealthy teacher coming to a class, what kind of inspiration you can give to the children, if you want children to be strong, to be the best, teachers should be even better, only they can inspire. I must tell you that she had agreed to all this, even though it would have meant a tremendous burden on the exchequer. But why it was not accepted, because other people are worried about the finances, the Prime Minister was not worried. She knew that money, if you have a good plan, money can be obtained just as Dr Abhay Kashap said: money is available. And as Prime Minister she knew money is available, but other people, no, no, no please it is such a heavy expenditure. Like my education minister said: Dr Joshi, you give me a program but see that it doesn't cost anything; wonderful ideas but see that it doesn't cost anything. I said, thank you, you have no lion’s heart. If you are really a good parent, you will not say this, you will say let me spend all my energies, but let my child grow to the highest perfection. If you are a true parent, what is a parent living for, if not for the best welfare of the child? If the nation says: I cannot pay for my children's education, it's a shame on the nation. You promised children and you say: I cannot educate. This is the basic problem of India.

Even now I would address everybody, please see to it that our country comes to a point where all teachers receive all-round education, at least for five years, before they become teachers, whether they teach kindergarten or PhD. All teachers are alike. Basically, remember this: actually, it is said that only the best teacher should be given to the children, because child education is the most difficult thing.

We have to envisage also a new curriculum. We had here plenty of food, ‒ Gandhi on education, Tagore on education, Gurukul on education, Swami Vivekananda on education, all the modern ideas of UNESCO. Two reports of UNESCO were reported here, Learning to be, Learning:Treasure within. Many, many, good ideas have all pulled together, but if it doesn't result in the development of a new curriculum, we shall go on talking for 100 years of all this, what we are talking now, nothing will go because Macaulay has seen to it that Indians do not think beyond language, history, geography, mathematics, science, education means this. Everything else is extracurricular, you may do it, you may not do it. It does not matter whether you learn the heritage of India or whether you are taught what is the ideal of life or meaning of life, it matters little.

Why our education policies remain so lame. It is because the best educational thinkers of India, even today, do not think beyond these five subjects and whenever they think of new subjects, they dovetail one way or the other and one answer is, but all subjects can be used for this purpose. When I speak of value-education, they say: don't touch this subject as a separate subject. Why? Because, then, you have to work very hard. To produce a curriculum for value-education, concentrate on value-education is very difficult. Don’t do that. You see all NCERT books, ‒ one lesson in science book, science and values. One book, Gandhi's talisman is given there that is value education. Then you take English language courses. One lesson, you dovetail value education in every subject, and how can you do it? It’s impossible in mathematics, what value system will you teach in geography, what will you teach in value education?

People are not thinking seriously that if I want to teach value education, I have to have a curriculum for it, in a very meaningful manner, even if I have to dovetail it into other subjects, it's a much more difficult task. We have ultimately to create a kind of a curriculum. Now considering all aspects, I would only like to suggest to you in a few minutes, a new concept of our curriculum, which I think our country should develop. At the base of it, first of all, we should have a campus of education of such a nature that no school has more than 800 students. 800 students is an optimum number from kindergarten to the highest level, in a school. Why, because the headmaster has to know every student personally and a headmaster cannot know all the students, if he does not know everyone. If there are too many students, you cannot know physically. 800 students you can. The headmaster should also know many, many parents of all the children then only you can be a good headmaster. Even if you want to have many schools in the same campus and I’m in favour of many schools in one campus. Instead of only one school, you should have 10- 12 schools in the same campus; so that facilities can be greatly shared between 10 schools and then the choice that you can give to your children will be an enormous choice. One of the most difficult things in our country is what is called skill oriented education, and today everybody demands, my child is absolutely without skills. You teach history, geography, science, but he doesn't know skills. How can you do that? The answer is that if you have 10 schools side by side, and if each school specialises in one skill, because one of the most difficult things for skilled education is equipment and teachers for skill oriented education, because skill oriented education cannot be done in the ordinary academic manner, you cannot come to a lecture and give a lecture. You have got to be on the table and toil with the wood, toil with the metal, toil with the soil.

Fine, you should have therefore, at the bottom line a small course of teaching three R's. There are languages, reading, writing and arithmetic just three R’s, but through agriculture and craft. This was the Gandhian idea, basic education, and this is a truth in it. In India, agriculture and craft are so important that if you take away the child from the soil, he refuses to go back to the soil and it's a loss to the country. Therefore, you should have a campus in which there is an agricultural plot available to the school. Today morning she was talking of floriculture, and I was so happy; floriculture is extremely important. Gardening is extremely important. Creating an orchard is very important. Child should know what are the different crops, what kind of soil, how to make soil so fertile and not by pesticides by organic farming.

Now, if you want to teach craft and agriculture the tools of education, there should be what I call the basic core of education. On top of it, there should be one core program: a core program will be connected with the science of living. This was our famous Taittiriya Upanishad's idea that every child should have god knowledge, world knowledge, self knowledge and, don't dovetail it. You may study world knowledge by astronomy, many things, and yet what is world knowledge in essence, also has to be captured separately, you know the essence of world knowledge, essence of self knowledge, essence of god knowledge. So a full course of 12 years from class 1 to class 12, I have already prepared a course on this subject, I have given to her; a core program of 12 years. Now this should be available to all the students, three hours and this core subject. Apart from this, there should be no compulsion but many options, and if your ten schools are running at the same time, each school can specialise in one and there can be pooling of facilities and every course, including cooking, designing. We had 64 sciences and arts in India bring all of them back, because they're extremely important. Every individual should have that course, which was designed by India, 64 sciences and arts should be available to children, not compulsory. You may like one of them or two of them, or three of them or five of them according to the choice let them develop it. And every course should be at three levels ‒ an average level or what is what I call ordinary level, then advanced level and special level; three levels and you can easily migrate from one to the other, depending upon your developing interests. You may start a school, a particular school of a course at O-level, but if you find very much interested, you can go to A-level and if you are still more interested, you can go to a special level. If you want to specialise in something you can easily migrate from one to the other, make the whole program so flexible.

And finally, the methodology of education should be such that the contemplative consciousness, mind should be very, very quiet, receiving to the knowledge, serenity of the mind, peace of the mind, everywhere, wherever you go in the schools, you should have classes, rooms of silence where children can go anytime they like. And, as I have explained here, you can do away with timetables, except for lectures, general lectures, which you can organise properly the methodology should be self-study. You should have library classes, attached with laboratories and project rooms. These three methods of education, every subject can be learned through self-study or if you need a help, you can go to the laboratory, and if you need teamwork, you need project work. If you can organise the entire course and cast the whole study in this manner, a new integral education in the country can flourish. This is the goal towards which I would very much like Dr Dutta to develop here, an institute which can demonstrate what kind of new curriculum our country needs, and then we can give to the others in our country. I am very happy with the program that you read out, as a conclusion of our seminar and workshop for so many days, and I think it gives me personally a great hope that if you can sincerely work it out, a tremendous possibility awaits us. Thank you.