Skip to main content

Why teaching 'how to make profit at the cost of human welfare' is not education

By Ekitha Gangavath, Ayush Bajpai, Amit Singh, Sandeep Pandey* 
The ideal of education... Unfortunately, this theme gets people’s attention only when some students commit suicides. As public memory is short things relapse to normal soon. The academic atmosphere becomes more competitive and then we have more suicides a few years down the line.
Actually, number of students’ suicides is pretty large but media notices it when it happens in some elite institution like the IITs. Recent discussion on this topic is also provoked by a suicide of a Dalit student at IIT Mumbai. But it’ll not help if we do not think about education in its larger sense. Trying to deal with it in piecemeal or ad-hoc fashion will not solve the problem.
The purpose of education is to instil wisdom and the belief in truth and objective world, in human beings so that they can learn how to live in a manner such that they can achieve harmony among different levels at which they have to live – the personal, which itself comprises of both body and consciousness, the family, the society, the environment and any larger reality if it exists.
The education should equip them with the knowledge, culture and truth created and discovered by historical wo(man)kind. It should reveal the class-caste-gender-nation-power character of society.
Needless to say that any human being who has figured out how to live at different levels in harmony will live happily. Anything which disturbs this harmony, for example, disease in body, estranged relationships, violence in society or damage to environment is failure of human intelligence in solving the problem of bringing various levels in harmony. Then the educated humans will strive to bring back the harmony among different levels.
Many a time an individual cannot choose living in harmony however (s)he tries or desires. Interests of different individuals may be in conflict with each other. The alignment of interests is an exception rather than rule because of hierarchical and hegemonic structures in the world. Out of these accidental meeting of interests and harmony found therein lies necessary laws.
The purpose of education, research and inquiry is to discover these laws and truths. The human beings who are seen doing this are described as wise, whether they have formal education or not it hardly matters. Hence anything which disturbs the harmony is not education. From this point of view quite a few academic programmes or the manner in which they are imparted will not qualify as education.
For example, any training in use of arms or science in the service of developing dangerous weapons cannot be called education as this training has the potential to create violence. All fundamentalist ideologies which provoke individuals to kill other human beings are not education.
All research and development of technologies which enhance carbon emission are not education. Teaching how to make profit at the cost of human welfare is not education. Learning how to use carrot and stick policies to keep people divided in order to govern them is not education.
Similarly, competition is something which brings out the worst in human beings and therefore cannot be part of any education. Using cooperation to solve human problems, as we always tend to do in real life, will enhance the harmony among different levels that we mentioned earlier and therefore is necessarily part of education. It is inexplicable how competition has come to be such an integral part of education that today we cannot conceive of education with examinations.
The purpose of examination is evaluation of learning, which can certainly be done in non-competitive ways. The process of education completes only when the learning has taken place. Until then the responsibility of neither the teacher nor the taught is fulfilled.
We have to work out a system of education so that every child is able to complete their education without facing the threat of expulsion. After all, we have the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in place even though India never implemented the Common School System, which has been a tried and tested method around the world of achieving 99-100% literacy rates.
No child should be out of school before they reach the Class XII stage. It is quite possible that different children depending on their socio-economic background as well as mental ability may have different pace of learning and therefore may take more or less than twelve years to complete their Class XII education. Now pre-school education has also become important.
After school education every child who wishes to pursue higher education in any field should have the choice to do so. Any competitive entrance examination should not prevent them from obtaining admission to a desired programme. 
Hence, if a young person wishes to learn engineering or medicine or law, they should get admission to some engineering, medicine or law institution close to their home. Of course, they should have the choice to learn at a far away or foreign educational institution if they wish to.
Any training in use of arms or science in the service of developing dangerous weapons cannot be called education
Now this requires that as many seats in institutions of higher learning should be there as there are aspirants to be accommodated. Fortunately, the number of institutions offering seats in professional education is roughly equal to the number of aspirants in respective fields.
Hence, there is really no need to hold any entrance examination for gatekeeping. The issue is the quality of a large majority of these institutions if we exclude the reputed ones like the IITs, AIIMSs and NLUs. This is not an intractable problem. 
If all the willing graduates from good quality professional institutions are employed as teachers in the ordinary colleges and universities it will have a twin desirable effect. The problem of unemployment will be addressed to some extent and more importantly the quality of all institutions will go up.
Right now, since the emphasis of most private institutions is in making money, they compromise heavily on quality, sometimes not even hiring the required number or adequate quality of faculty members. Second, every student will get to study what they want to and cases of suicide, etc., provoked by intense competition will hopefully subside.
Now comes the question of those students who are not able to cope up with the programme they have chosen. First an effort should be made by the teachers to see whether any remedial measures can address the problem. 
However, if it is clear that the students don’t have an aptitude for the academic programme that they have chosen for whatever , they should be guided to move over to a more favourable programme for them. Dropping out of higher education should be the last option.
The entire process of education from Kinder Garten to Post Graduate should be free of examinations. Evaluations of different kind can take place to assess the performance. However, in no case should the result of an evaluation be the failure of a student. There should be no quantitative or relative grading. The outcome of an evaluation can be only two -- either the student has learned or not.
If the student has not learned then it should also be considered the failure of the teachers and the whole society. Either the same teacher or a different teacher should then try to impart learning to the student. The process of learning will be considered complete only when both the teacher and taught are satisfied that minimum level of learning has taken place. 
There is no need for any certificates (as there is no question of any marksheet or gradesheet) at any level of education except for when the student has completed the process. Only then the student should obtain a certificate indicating the subjects they have learned or mastered and their levels of achievement.
Do examinations have no role? The role of examinations is only when a limited number of people possessing a definite skill set are to be chosen for a particular task. Except for this there is really no need to conduct examinations which take up huge amount of resources or energy which should be better invested in learning process or expanding the scope of education to include more number of students.
---
*Ekitha Gangavath and Ayush Bajpai are students of law at NALSAR, Hyderabad; Amit Singh teaches at IIT Bombay; Sandeep Pandey is Magsaysay award winning social activist-academic and general secretary, Socialist Party (India)

Comments

TRENDING

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.