As we are drawing nearer to the close of the century, we seem to be reaching a critical turning-point. This criticality will be, it seems, highly acute in countries like India where, on the one hand, the demands for an early fulfilment of ideal dreams are insistent and persistent, and where, on the other hand, the physical potentialities for early In India, actualisation do not easily obtain. In India there was, during the struggle for freedom, a mighty awakening and Indian leaders thought and dreamt boldly and courageously. In the deeper
layers of the Indian consciousness are, therefore, lying embedded these great thoughts and dreams and they are creating imperative demands upon But the resources policy makers and executives.
But the resources that we can mobilise are far from adequate, and this creates a formidable and acute disequilibrium.
During the past 30 years of plan development in India, more than Rs.1,30,000 crores have been spent. But implementation of plans has taken longer than what was imagined. Inspite of our best efforts, our capital-output, ratio has been high at 5:1, and our G.N.P. growth has been low at 3.5%. Our current per capita income has been raised only up to Rs. 1800 per year. Also our actual experience has shown that none of the current models will actually suit the peculiar demands of Indian aspirations. Even a mixed economy or a model of social democracy requires in India a dynamic spiritual motivation, the sources of which are not easy to tap. Again, at the root of all our dreams has been a faith in the power of education to transform men and to transform society. Great leaders in the first decade of the century electrified the country with the idea of national education, of man making education and of creative education. Many bold experiments were undertaken, and yet, when India became free and had the possibility of a large-scale radical change, the task was found to be too difficult. The heavy weight of the past has been found irresistible, and instead of creating something new, we are still perpetuating the old with almost insoluble difficulties. India is thus in a mood of a deep self-critical appraisal of its economy, sociology, polity and strategies of education.
It is against this general background that we need to study some of the major problems of education and consider some realisable prospects.
Our educational effort since Independence has made a significant thrust in three main directions. In the first place, there has been a great endeavour to realise the goal of universalisation of elementary education. In the second place, there has been a multi-pronged effort to improve the quality of education at all levels. And in the third place, there has been an arduous exercise to infuse a new spirit among the youths and the teachers. And to sustain these efforts, larger and larger budget provisions are being made both by the Central Government and State Governments. According to the figures for the, year 1983-84, the total budget provision for educational development, both on revenue and capital accounts, works out to be Rs. 6132.03 crores. In terms of the state budgets, the budgeted expenditure for 1980-84 was estimated to be of the order of Rs. 5610.25 crores which constitutes 18.5% of the total states budgets. (The total number of students is more than 120 million and the total number of teachers is more than 3.5 millions working in more than half a million educational institutions).
The present All India School Education Survey, seventh in the series of All India Educational Surveys (AIESs), was conducted with reference date as September 30, 2002. The data from States/ Union Territories were collected with the active participation of States. The survey covered 10.31 lakh schools functioning in 5.87 lakh villages and around 5.3 thousand towns/ urban areas. It also provided information about 55.3 lakh teachers imparting education to more than 20 crore pupils in the country.
At the lower rung of our educational problem is the need to realise the aim of universal education, and, at the minimum to realise the aim of providing education to all the children in the country up to the age of fourteen. It is universally admitted that we should have realised
this goal long ago. And so, no matter what difficulties on the way, we must realise it now at the very earliest. This is a matter of the first priority. For even today, nearly 5% of the children between 6-11 and more than 50% of children between 11-14 remain to be enrolled in our schools.
It has now been acknowledged that the failure in regard to the universalisation of primary education has been largely due to rigidity and inelasticity of our formal system of education. At one time, the argument had been that our first task was to attend to the question of large numbers rather than to that op reforming the rigid and inelastic system of education. But now, the argument is that if we are serious about educating large numbers, then, this can be done only by changing our It is now proposed rigid methods and adopting new ones.
It is now proposed that a good deal of full-time institutional instruction should be replaced by a large programme of part-time education supplemented by non-formal education and self-study. It has been suggested that the "single-point" entry system should be replaced by a "multiple-point" entry system. The "sequential" character of the normal system has been questioned, and there is a proposal to modify it. And there are a number of suggestions to utilise educational technology in such a way that a new kind of mass education could be evolved. It has become evident that innovation is necessitated by the very circumstances of the practical demands of our educational situation.
According to the targets of the Sixth Five Year plan, it is proposed to cover 95% of the age-group 6-l1 and 50% of the age-group 11-14. Even then, nearly 30 million out-of-school children will be left out during the Sixth Plan as a backlog to which another 4-5 million of this age-group will be added with the growth of population. As a result, a total of about 35 million out-of-school children will have to be covered by 1990, if we have to plan for achieving 100% universalisation. It is obvious that some special measures and strategies will have to be evolved, and there is no escape from undertaking a vast programme of non-formal education.
The Indian schooling system is one of the largest in the world and caters to over 250 million students. 2020
According to the latest education al survey (Fourth Educational Survey) nearly 40% of the total number of about half a million elementary schools require durable school buildings, and this is a problem which is taxing the educational planners in our country.
According to an overall view, we are in an urgent need to have additional one and a half million classrooms which would cost more than Rs. 2000 crores. Frankly, we do not know how to find such a huge amount of money. On this dimension alone, our prospects are dim, and we are anxious to find ways and means by which we could tackle this problem effectively and expeditiously.
While these are all gross problems and prospects of elementary education, there are deeper and subtler problems which are being pressed forward almost everywhere in the country. These problems relate to what may be called the discovery of the child. They issue from the growing recognition that the child is an inexhaustible entity of mystery and delight. They issue from the discovery that education must be a bringing out of the child's own total potentialities to their highest possible value, and that it must be based on the psychology of the child-nature. It is increasingly recognised that children are the most important people, that everything must be organised to suit the demands of their development, that we must ensure that children blossom like flowers, petal by petal, spontaneously, freely and happily. We are asked to attend to the child in the process of learning, in the process of relating itself with the environment, in the process of continuous self-exceeding. We are required to be with the psychology of the child, with the dreams of the child, with the problems of the child's every day battle and friendships, with the sights and scenes in the environment, with the stories that are read, with the influences that mould the habits, interests, character and decisions, with the methods of encouragement with the very structure and the aim of child's education, It is expected that these problems will come to occupy a central place during the next two decades, and we shall have to pay a greater attention to the creation not only of special institutions of training and research in the field of child education but also to the production of learning materials, picture books and films meant specifically for children's needs. This is one very vast area of work which is holding our attention today and promises to be an exciting field of activity for prospective teachers and educators.
In the higher belt of our educational problem, we have issues that relate more directly to secondary and higher education we have here problems of diversification of courses, vocationalisation, raising standards of education, equalisation of opportunities, the pursuit of excellence, advancement of science and technology, research, training, new roles for teachers, students welfare, modernisation of syllabi, reforms in the system of tests, and of creating right motivation for education.
It is heartening to note that the modern educational though has made a powerful impact on our approach to these issues. A number of new ideas have gained currency, particularly, in the introduction of what has come to be called 10 plus 2 plus 3 for the school and under-graduate education. A new idea of "units" of studies has been proposed, and there is the Corresponding idea of "unit" tests, evaluation and feed-back. The recommendations of UNESCO in regard to international understanding are being integrated in the curriculum. The idea of life-long education and of learning society are being increasingly understood and accepted. An attempt is being made to formulate the idea of work experience in the light of the new trend to relate education to life. Aesthetic education is being given an important place in the new pattern. And a healthy stress is being laid on physical education. There is evidently a new orientation.
It must, however, be admitted that university education is passing through a heavy tempest. There are increasing and unbearable demands for admission in spite of the fact that we have today 140 universities and institutions deemed to be universities and about 6000 colleges catering to about 4 million students. There is an urgent problem of providing trained personnel, facilities and equipment.
There is a terrible phenomenon of large-scale cheating in examinations. There is the harassing problem of violence and indiscipline in the campuses. There is a delicate and tenuous problem of the constitutions of the universities under which authorities find themselves too crippled to deal effectively with the problems they are expected to handle. And, finally, there is the uneasy problem of relating the educated youth to the world of employment, of work, of creativity, and of some possible fulfilment. And indeed, some or all these problems are related to the problems of finance and planning, and some or all of them are again related to the problems of political, social and cultural milieu.
It must also be admitted that there has been too much reliance on piecemeal thinking and ad hocism rather or a global thinking and a right co-relation of various issues. There is also a tendency to look to the past for guidance, instead of opening to the irrefutable fact that our situation cannot be compared in any way with that of the past, and that we must revolutionise our way of thinking and action. There has been too much attachment to the old methods of teaching and testing, instead of eagerness for experimentation and research in the new methods of education. And, finally, but most importantly, we must admit, regretfully, that we have failed to keep the youth in the centre of our thought, care and attention.
There are three levels at which various solutions are being contemplated in India to meet the specific situations in colleges and universities. It has been pointed out that one of the urgent needs of our education is to appreciate the significance of certain combinations of tendencies and circumstances that are developing in the world today and to allow them to determine the necessary changes in the objectives and contents of education. It has been pointed out that there is today a phenomenon of unprecedented explosion of knowledge, which necessitates a continuous or life-long programme of education. There is also today, it is underlined, an unparalleled width and depth of enquiry, which necessitates a new kind of education that would be at once comprehensive and yet peculiarly specialised or varied so as to suit each individual. Finally, it is urged that the modern man is today, as never before, subject to psychological turmoil, necessitating a new dimension in education that still remains undefined and insufficiently explored
At a deeper level, we are asked to examine new trends of world thought and experience and to allow them to have a profound bearing on higher education. There is, it is argued, a great quest all over the world towards the synthesis of knowledge and synthesis of culture.
Ancient knowledge is being recovered in the context of the modern knowledge. The humanist and the technologist are finding themselves in greater and greater need of each other; the moralist and the artist are obliged to understand each other; and the scientist and the mystic are getting ready to embrace each other. It has been contended that the educational implications of these developments must be understood and implemented. It has been advocated that our educational syllabi must reflect the latest trends of synthesis and that our educational objectives must include the idea of preparing a new kind of man who can harmonise in himself consciously and progressively the wideness of the humanist and the skill of the technologist, the disciplined will-force of the moralist and the refined imagination of the artist, and the scrupulous knowledge of the scientist and the sublime vision, wisdom and ever-growing perfection of the mystic.
There is still a deeper level at which a profounder solution is being suggested. It has been contended that man is undergoing today a crisis which is evolutionary in character, a crisis that occurs in a species at a time when some kind of mutation is imminent. According to this view, education ought to be made a most powerful instrument of this evolutionary mutation. This view, therefore, proposes a thorough revolution" of education in which the aim would be to cultivate, sharpen and transform the faculties and powers of personality leading towards an unprecedented perfection that would enhance man's capacity to collaborate consciously with the upward march of evolution. This view advocates, in effect, revolutionary methods of education which aim at modifying or replacing the three main pillars of our ordinary educational methodology, namely, the lecture system, the syllabus system and the examination system. An insistence is laid upon a free choice for the student to choose his own subjects of study, his own pace of progress, and even his teachers. There is a pressing demand for the recognition of individual differentiation, necessitating Variation in psychological treatment, presentation of materials of study, and criteria of judgment of performance. There is also a forceful demand for new syllabi that would correspond to the psychological needs of the growth of the students.
In the welter of these ideas, it is difficult to predict in what direction will the Indian higher education eventually move. But it is obvious that in the coming two decades, there is bound to be a deeper and deeper churning of these ideas.
A significant fact in this context is that there have been in India some intensive experiments which embrace all these ideas and many more.
It is true that these experiments have not yet made any appreciable impact, but there is a growing need to recognise the value of these experiments and to allow their results to have an influence on the now orientation that Indian education needs so urgently and imperatively. The Indian Experiment began indigenously with the modern renaissance in India, and it was nurtured by the pre-independence nationalist movement. In due course, it absorbed deeply the western idea of new education. But, at the same time, it took a great care to integrate them with the profoundest concepts of our own educational psychology. For this reason, the Indian Experiment has been rather slow in showing its results. For its data were larger and the elements which had to be harmonised were more difficult and more numerous.
The mature fruit of the Indian Experiment is to be found in the concept of the four-fold personality. It has been pointed out that there are four central values and powers of personality, and, if these are rightly balanced throughout the process of development, and if healthy equilibrium of these powers is upheld progressively, then the youth could be assured of a continuous life-long integral development of personality that would constantly release freshness and creativity, enthusiasm and courage, and spontaneous dedication and consecration to all that is highest and noblest. These four values belong to the deepest and highest being, but their expressions are to be found in varying degrees, in all our instruments, body, life and mind. These four values are: Knowledge, Power, Love and Skill in works.
It is, indeed, recognised that this is an extraordinary programme, which implies a life-long process of development. But it is underlined that it must begin right from the beginning, and hence not only university education, but even earlier levels of education must be so re-structured as to permit the development of the student on new lines.
It is premature to say whether the ideas of Indian Experiment will be able to revolutionise the Indian educational situation. But there are bright prospects. Firstly, there is an irresistible demand among large sections of people to replace as soon as possible the educational system that the British designed for India. This demand is persistent, in spite of the fact that there is a wide recognition of the fact that the British system of education produced a number of distinguished personalities and that it has fostered the great and noble ideas of liberty and equality. Secondly, India cannot afford to perpetuate the rigidity and inelasticity of the present system of education, if India has to attend the needs of very large number of children and youths who cannot all be accommodated in the formal system of education. Thirdly, the Indian Experiment is at once Indian and international, and with the growing tide of radical ideas that are growing everywhere in the world, India is bound to look more and more searchingly within its own experiment where these radical ideas have been assimilated. And, finally, India needs a new kind of manpower both for its economic prosperity and for cultural efflorescence.
And it is likely to be recognised more and more increasingly that the Indian Experiment has a special relevance to the creation of the needed new kind of manpower.
These then are, very briefly, some of the important educational problems and prospects. And these must be viewed in the context of the totality of the Indian situation. A great limiting factor is the continued excessive growth of our population. The birth rate in seventies was 36 per thousand, and during the last decade, the total population rose from 548 million to 683 million, the decennial growth rate being 24%. If India is to have an effective framework of development and progress, population must be checked. At the same time, there must be a great care in the use and development of our resources. We have also to be careful about the ecological problems. And, finally, there must come about a greater international understanding which would allow freer aid from different parts of the world in our development programme. According to one optimistic but feasible reckoning, it is possible to achieve an annual G.N.P. growth of 6% and to hold our population down to no more than a billion by the year 2030. This would mean an annual per capita income of over Rs. 22,000 at present prices or 12 times what it is today. This, though still only about half of that enjoyed by the people of economically advanced countries today, will still meet the modest necessities of a decent and fruitful life, free at last from want and squalor. If we can at the same time effectuate radical changes in our educational system and programmes, we can hope to supply to the human race a large number of dynamic and talented youths inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
The radical changes that we can propose must underline certain basic thrusts. Among them, we can mention the following:
Children and youths of today will be called upon to shoulder the responsibility of shaping the 21st century. There is, therefore, a special need today to visualise a new order of humanity and to provide education that should be appropriate to the needs o that order. Global peace, human unity and a harmonious North-South cooperation can be expected to be the dominant themes of the coming day. Multi-faceted development, particularly in developing countries like India, will come to lay increasing stress on social justice in the framework of the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Economic growth should come to be increasingly perceived to be dependent on scientific and technological development as also on creativity and cultural efflorescence. Education for all and increasing stress on integrated rural development should no more be a mere promise but a rapidly actualising reality.
Appropriate to these ideals and goals, a major thrust of the education policy should be to evolve and execute programmes of education that should foster national unity and integration, international understanding, peace, mutuality and cooperation. Every effort should be made to liberate the educational system from the lingering influences of the colonial past. Provisions should be made for the development of skills and scientific temper at all levels of education.
And, true to India's inherent genius for synthesis, education should encourage the development of integral personality and a comprehensive synthesis of the values of physical, intellectual, ethical, Skill-oriented and aesthetic and spiritual culture. Skill-oriented and value-oriented education should receive special attention. The ideal of learning society should be pursued vigorously so as to coordinate and involve all sectors of society in the teaching-learning process. The child and youth should be kept in the centre of nation's care and concern.
One of the chief characteristics of the learning society is that it should reject the idea that only a few should climb to the higher levels of achievement and that the rest should remain content with lower ranges of activities and fulfilment. Education for all aiming at the integral upliftment of all is a natural corollary of the idea of the learning society. And the two basic requirements that follow, in the context of the Indian situation, are universalization of elementary education and elimination of adult illiteracy. Therefore, a top priority must be given to the realisation of the goals of these programmes within a fixed time-schedule. Programmes of mid-day meal and garments for girls should be adopted all over the country. A special emphasis must be laid on the education of girls and women. Special measures should be taken to encourage education among disadvantaged groups, particularly among the physically handicapped and scheduled castes and tribes.
While efforts should continue to strengthen and consolidate the gains achieved so far, a special emphasis should be laid on innovations and certain radical changes. While the formal system of education, particularly the pattern of 10+2+3, should be strengthened all over the country, non-formal education should be developed as a full-fledged alternative system at all stages of education. Suitable linkages between the formal and non-formal education should also be forged.
Non-formal education should encourage multi-point entry system, and it should be made flexible so as to suit the learners' needs from the point of view of space, time and curriculum. The formal system, too, should be so refined that it can provide to students of non-formal education a choice of lateral entry into it at appropriate levels of studies.
Harmony of Man with Nature has been the chief theme of culture, and the quest of man of himself and the universe has been the chief theme of education. These themes are closely inter-related, and it is increasingly realised that this inter-relationship needs to be effectively reflected in our educational system. Education promoting culture, and culture promoting education will characterise the new effort. Culture depends on large and wide strides of imagination, emotion and thought, on works of art and craft, on beautiful arrangements of things, plants and flowers. Therefore, facilities should be created, both at the national and local levels, to encourage teachers, students and educational institutions to promote fine arts and activities of imagination, local folklore, folk art and craftsmanship, and to weave artistic sensitivity and sensibility into every educational activity. Right from attention to the neatness and beauty of handwriting to the harmony of forms of thought and composition, various activities of learning should be encouraged so as to transmute them into experiences of creative expansion and progress. Cultural refinement will be sought not only as an aim of education but also as an integral element of the educational process.
That every Indian student should receive an adequate exposure to Indian culture seems obvious, and yet, despite previous efforts, much remains to be attempted and achieved to promote among students the study, understanding and appreciation of Indian culture. This involves an arduous task, as it implies not only re-orientation of textbooks but also preparation of new learning materials, promotion of exhibitions and films, and creation of proper environment and atmosphere arough which the aims and manifestations of ! Indian culture could be properly communicated to students at various levels of education. This task should be encouraged, and a special effort should be made to underline the need to study Indian culture not only to appreciate its past glories but also to chalk out the paths of Indian future. Not revivalism but rootedness, reconstruction and new creation should be the central motive. Considering the fact that the great values of Indian culture came to the forefront during the freedom struggle, a special emphasis should be laid on the study of the story of this struggle, portrayed both in the lives of its leaders and in its content, direction and thrust.
Study of Indian culture and promotion of national integration are intimately inter-related. Unity in diversity is the main theme of our national integration, and the values of synthesis and human fraternity transcending all barriers of narrow loyalties should receive special attention.
It is universally acknowledged that the educational needs of the rural India have not received the attention that they deserve, despite certain laudable schemes which have brought about salutary changes in certain aspects. The vast human potential in the rural India has remained untapped, although powerful currents of Indian culture have continued to irrigate the minds and hearts of the rural people. The Indian peasant has often been found to possess untutored wisdom and instinctive sensibility to realities of life. But what is instinctive in him needs to be brought out in awakened self-consciousness, and this demands a new approach. Learning materials have to be so designed that they are relevant to the rural environment and ethos. Technical know-how which needs to be transferred to the rural areas has to be judiciously determined. In particular scientific and technical knowledge regarding alternative and non-conventional sources of energy must receive highest priority in the educational programmes.
Consequent upon the increasing development of agro- industrial complexes in rural areas, there should be a growing demand for the relevant talent and skills, which, in turn, should impose a special dimension to education. This need must be met adequately and effectively. Rural employment schemes must also be linked with specially designed relevant programmes of education. And, over- arching these efforts, there should be launched for the youth in the rural areas a massive programme of education that would centre on activities of physical culture, general knowledge and basic skills. This programme should be promotes and monitored by a staff exclusively charged with it.
Considering that the mediocrity of linguistic competence obstructs the development of intellectual processes of thought and reflection, a major thrust of the new educational policy should be to promote among students and people increasing capacity of linguistic comprehension, articulation and excellence. Emphasis should be laid on correctness of pronunciation, spelling and expression in the languages learnt and taught at various levels of education, formal and non-formal.
Educational reconstruction should necessitate certain fundamental innovations. The following programmes should particularly be promoted:
a) Review and redetermination of the contents of education in the light of the emerging needs of the synthesis of knowledge and culture as also of increasing demands of scientific and technological skills, promotion of values and integral development of personality;
b) Lightening the burden of books on children and adolescents;
c) Changes in the methodology of education so as to meet the total needs of the cognitive, affective and conative growth of students;
d) Radical changes in the examination system so as to achieve the goal of delinking of degrees with jobs and to develop national tests that would be both objective and reliable and would test not only competence in a few selected subjects but also achievements in the fields of value-oriented education, physical fitness, skills for specific works and overall development of harmonious personality;
e) Development of centres of educational innovation and experimentation directly related to the emerging demands of the 21st century; and f) Programme of autonomous schools and colleges.
Research is indispensable, not only for attaining educational excellence but also for securing increasing rate of economic growth, productivity and development. High priority should be assigned to be promotion of research, both scientific and humanistic. The learned councils of research and institutes of advanced studies should be encouraged to coordinate their research efforts and to develop the manpower that can continue to remain at the frontiers of knowledge and lead the growing generation to reach these frontiers rapidly and fruitfully. In particular, encouragement should be given not only to discover new and rich contents of ethical and spiritual domains but also to open up a new domain where the modern trends of science can meet and coverage on the ancient and renascent knowledge of the secrets of spiritual perfection.
A new orientation in the teachers' training programmes 'has become inevitable. Consequent upon the explosion of information, increasing relevance of education in all domains of the world of work, and increasing stress on the themes of unity and integration, international understanding and peace, and individual and collective excellence, new demands are being made on the teacher. The role of the teacher is undergoing a process of rapid chance. The teacher as a task master is fading out of the educational scene, and the teacher is being increasingly looked upon as a guide and inspirer. The teacher is also expected to contribute significantly to the task of integrating education with development. He is required to become an innovator and inventor of dynamic methods of education. And he is also expected to become a leading agent of change. He is also called upon to play an active role in the fashioning of a learning society. It is against this background that major changes would be introduced in the aims, methods and contents of programme of teacher education, both pre-service and in-service.
Appropriate to the new and heavy demands on the teacher, working conditions of the teacher should be improved, and measures should be taken to raise the status of the teacher. At the same time, the teacher should be expected to set a high standard of performance and discharge of responsibilities.
A question may be raised if we have the needed resources, in terms of finance and manpower, to implement all this that we have conceived. The answer to this question cannot be given merely in terms of statistics. For me shall find that in the ultimate analysis much will depend on whether an optimistic psychology or a pessimistic psychology is likely to preponderate. Right now, be country seems to be in an optimistic mood. If we add to it a voluntary decision on the part of the leaders of thought and action in various domains of life to continue to generate and sustain voluntary optimism, we can visualise in the coming years a period of fruitful and successful implementation of the needed ideas and programmes. With this optimistic note, may I be permitted to end.