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The Dilution of Learning!
|by Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam|
Learning has two senses. One is mere learning of languages and other disciplines. The other is scholarship. In both the senses it is has been and is highly diluted in our country. The purpose of education as different from mere literacy is to become adept in the three Rs- reading, writing and ‘rthemetic. But present generation of schools are not capable of imparting these three minimum essential requirements of learning.
The reason is obvious. Most of the parents want ranks to their kids and do not know the pleasure, beauty and usefulness of learning. They want their children to settle in good jobs. Some parents want to show their status by joining their offspring in “prestigious” institutions.
Earlier generation of students and teachers were keen about the acquisition of good knowledge also in addition to imparting the contents of the syllabi. Every science student also was well-versed with the literature in one’s own mother tongue in addition to English literature. And humanities students were having a reasonable general knowledge about science.
For example when we were doing degree course we were having three papers in English language-old poetry, modern poetry, two full-length dramas of Shakespeare (one tragedy and one comedy), modern prose, select one act plays and non-detailed. And only essay questions and annotations are asked. One has to write descriptive answers. Of course many students were not able to complete degree because they could not pass in English. That was having a filtering effect.
Now it is completely opposite. And also there is a misnomer that students other than English literature need not be proficient in English. Many do not know that one must be proficient in the language of instruction and learning. It is not an exaggeration that we find today ninety percent of school - and college - going students not adept in any language even in mother tongue.
The misplaced obsession with computer in learning from UKG itself is unfortunate. The managements of the schools are catering to the “ambitions” of the parents. The primacy of the education is to train the mind and not stuffing the brain with information is long forgotten and neglected. The ability to write a few sentences in any language learnt including mother tongue is becoming rare.
The privatization of education at all levels has attracted intelligent businessmen to the field of education and transformed the auspicious learning process into another industrial enterprise. Hundreds of crores of rupees of business is done in the name of imparting education. As the privately run educations are run as commercial enterprises the teachers have lost their significance, relevance and importance. It should not surprise any one if a lecturer in a privately run college is drawing a salary of a mere Rs. 4000/- a month. A laborer is getting more than that. Utter disregard is shown to the teachers by most of the privately run educational institutions.
We are only boasting when we say that we have so many schools, colleges and universities. The mushroom growth of deemed universities is another face of the commercialization in education. If many of us not associated with the field of education are thinking that by sending our children to these institutions our responsibility as parents is over are sadly mistaken.
A degree without proficiency in language and knowledge in chosen discipline is the norm of the day. We are all, including every responsible person associated with the field of education, like the proverbial cat which thinks no one is observing it drinking the milk if it closes its eyes. The reality is glaring. The words bioinformatics biotechnology and nano-technology have become famous. The privately run colleges and universities are making money on our craze of such words even though a degree in these fields can not and most of the times do not guarantee a job.
Fascination and fashion are consuming us as our “lust” for modern gadgets. Entertainment is dominating our lives and no enlightenment is available and we are not caring for getting enlightened. We being well-versed and acquainted with day to day happenings on the globe alone is not enlightenment. Enlightenment is a more sublime process and progress of human intellectual and emotional make-op. The role of radio (FM broad-cast)), TV (cinema based programs) and the like are having more influence on youth than the teacher in the class. Some students are getting plum jobs in IT industry but rest of the students are in the lurch. There is no hope to get a good job and a decent living. Most are not able to manage to make both the ends meet. Especially the youth are wasting their lives in private concerns with meager salaries.
This should be taken note of by the concerned. Else we will be a nation of highest degree holders in the world without any reasonably decent employment to our youth. Another craze is naming the institutes. Now we are going to have IITs, IIMs and AIIMS like hospitals every where.
An institution is made by a combined effort of the faculty and the students. Just naming new institutions after famous institutes will not and can not guarantee excellence in these days of pampering. Learning in the sense of scholarship is out of fashion now. Rarely people are applying their minds to learn in depth in their disciplines. Everything is going on the periphery. Understanding, getting insight, experiencing the acquired knowledge are becoming rare or even extinct in many cases. Mere ornamental writing and lecturing are dominating and actual scholarship is missing. Also the entrance tests for admission into higher studies or job opportunities have turned out to be tests of elimination rather than tests of selection. The understanding and insight of the individual and other faculties other than logic and reasoning are not tested at all at these tests.
Education in the sense of acquiring positive qualities and become a humane person are completely out of the radars of almost all the educational institutions and parents also. Every one wants good job without deserving and mentally equipped for the tasks associated. A lot of pampering is taking place around. It is of no use to any one; definitely not to the nation. Even though this description of education scenario is disturbing and pessimistic, it is the reality.
We must be alarmed of the situation. But who cares. We are all divided into various affiliations. We can not tackle united any challenge. The divisions among us by various realities and their perpetuation with immunity and impunity are not good for the nation.
Citizens have to make a nation. A nation cannot make citizens. We will really progress when this reality dawns in the hearts of all Indians and they do not confine to their narrow divisions of all kinds. Very few of us are pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Many are in academics and are studying degrees to get a job. But this type of academics can not give job opportunities, is not known to and realized by most. Even if they know they do not have any alternative. This compulsory adherence to academic studies is diluting the learning process and learning. This dilution in and of learning is not good for the individual, society and nation.
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