Deep changes are needed in our schooling system
Everybody doesn’t need to become an Einstein or a Newton. But each and every human, in order to get the society going, has to play their own role. And being able to contribute rightly to society’s advancement requires the right kind of education for becoming the right fit, for adding the right kind of value. I believe this is what our government kept in mind when it came up with a new education strategy. This was long overdue.
Our focus on education is far from appropriate. We have emphasized on the glamorous aspects of education rather than moral and wise applications of it. Showing and boasting about our educational achievements are more important to us than utilizing our learning in order to develop our minds for positive contribution. To us, education is the gateway to find a job that pays well.
This consciousness may not be sustainable, and may not help in collective development. We need to change. While I thank the government for its new thinking, I would also like to suggest a few elements to be incorporated in the policy.
Leave them behind
For a long time, our attention, in matters of education, was to ensure literacy -- we wanted each and every person to read and write, to be able to put their signature on a piece of paper. That’s it.
An enormous number of people, who we consider educated, belong to this signature group. Have these signature-capable people brought any change in their lives? I mean changes in their financial status. We wanted them to learn how to sign and boast about the rate of literacy, but we still needed them to remain poor so that they can serve us who are better off in terms of wealth.
If our chauffeurs, housemaids, rickshaw-pullers, and many others are equipped with skills, we the elite would be in trouble. Our paradise would be lost. If they don’t exist, where would we get workers to work in our factories? Where would we get workers whose wage-bracket would be Tk3,000 to Tk15,000?
We actually don’t want them to prosper as we did. And our education system is aimed at keeping that segment of human products uneducated so that we can keep earning the desired GDP.
Now, do we really want to leave them behind from the education march with which we aspire to become a middle-income country?
Our education has failed to instill smartness in us. By “smartness,” I don’t mean digital knowledge. I mean, first, are we manually smart? Has our education taught smartness to us? Look at the number of MBAs and BBAs in the country! Anybody and everybody is an MBA and BBA these days. The question is: Why, then, are our businesses so poorly managed and administered?
The same question could be asked about the learners who graduate from engineering and medical institutions. Our capital city is jam-packed with people who have graduated from schools, colleges, and universities. Why can’t these people manage the traffic system of the city?
There are many such questions which don’t have any answers. But we must find those answers. We cannot sit inside a well perpetually and look at the unending vastness of the sky through a tunnel.
Our education should truly need to make us smart.
Philosophy and the environment
In order to be smart, we require thinking. Unfortunately, our system of education doesn’t lead us to think. We’re not taught to think. We’re taught to memorize. We’re often told that universities are the places where we would be able to think and open our minds.
In real life, the thinking isn’t happening. The university graduates are imprisoned in a deluge of thoughtless textual delivery that they too can’t see the sky.
Why can’t we start the process of thinking right from grade 6? We often neglect and ridicule the subject called philosophy. We have assigned this subject for the non-science students and that too in the ninth grade. The business graduates do study some philosophy, but that’s not enough.
Why don’t we value this subject as many societies have for thousands of years? I believe this is the mother of all subjects, that leads us to think about morality, values, and responsibility. Philosophy forms the basis of our character, which would determine our behavioural beliefs.
At the primary level, we’re taught quite a lot of history, geography, and religion? For what? Has religious learning made us morally rich? Has our knowledge in history, geography, and religion taught us how to preserve the environment around us? Rather, with the help of all that knowledge, we’re militantly ensuring the death of Earth, our home, the deterioration of which would lead us to extinction.
Don’t we need to introduce a subject called “sustainability” right from an early age?
Teachers and their psychology
Now, who would teach us? Who would impart the lesson on the subjects that we choose to reach our children? The teachers, of course. But do teachers like their work? Do they enjoy teaching as a profession? We’re often told that those who fail to get employment in business organizations take up teaching as a profession, but they don’t enjoy their profession. I don’t know if that’s true, but this is the perception.
If we’re strategizing an education policy, we must think about the teachers -- the level of their education, their maturity as educators, and finally, their well-being.
How many teachers understand the minds of our children? How many of them are equipped to understand the psychology of the students? This is a grave matter. I believe the teachers, first, must be the best of psychologists who would instill values in the minds of students, and at the same time lead them to have a happy life.
The end note (for today)
I really don’t want to end here. My expectation from an education policy is to introduce an education system that would create an intellectually evolved society. And that’s not impossible -- all we have to do is to wish for it and want it.
Unfortunately, we want to ride an eternal rat-running wheel.
Ekram Kabir is a story-teller, a yogi and a communications professional. He is just an email away: [email protected].