Monday, April 28, 2008

Negative Aspect of Education

There is absolutely no denying the fact that education is a great leveller and gives immense opportunities for a person along with wider choice to choose from, in his/her life. But as with everything else, education has a negative aspect which is completely neglected.

Last friday I attended a meeting organised by the southern centre of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) at Bengaluru. Various scholars and researchers from across south India attended the meeting to discuss traditions that are fast disappearing. I went there with R.G. Singh who gave a presentation on the 'Traditional Board Games of India'. This meeting was an eye-opener regarding the negative aspect of the present education system as practised in India (which is an hangover from our colonial past where British wanted to create a class of white-collared indentured labourers to serve their mighty empire and rip India off its riches accumulated in the primarily agrarian society).

The tradition of chanting Jaimineeya Samaveda in a remote corner of Kerala is virtually dead with only three men, in their eighties, having the knowledge of entire text and no youngster is interested to learn. Among 70 families in a hamlet of Andhra Pradesh, only three remain who can recite 20 different variations of Telugu Mahabharata. These oral traditions involve learning thousands of verses by heart along with unique way of rendition. This means that children have to learn these daily from an early age.

Nowadays children are sent to schools to be formally educated which does not allow them time to learn their hereditary traditions like chanting, recitation etc. Once children are educated they are no longer interested in learning the traditional chantings and rather work as either an engineer or doctor and earn loads of money.

The current schooling system is single dimensional in its approach and does not make room for the multi cultural and multi traditional backgrounds from which students hail from. It is wiping clean the rich, innate, culture-scapes and tradition-scapes from each student and etching common and mundane things in the name of education.

Thousands of years of ancient knowledge systems are being wiped off with a stroke of common education system. Unless checked in time, this will render our society shallow and heartless.


SandyCarlson said...

Your commentary on British colonialism struck a chord with me, Raghu. I used to live and study in Ireland, where the British used the education system to create an underclass and to rid Ireland of a sense of its history.

We also have the class issue where different neighborhoods in the same city get amazingly different amounts of resources. An educated working class is a very dangerous thing.

Sometime I think the tourism industry makes up the difference by preserving cultural heritage sites and the like. We make sure we get to them with our daughter, though we spend time looking in on what was rather than continuing what is.

Thanks for alerting me to this post.

God bless, friend.

Tourism attempts to make up the difference in what

Raghu said...

@ Sandy: Tourism can only sustain cultures upto one point, but for any culture and tradition to stay alive it needs its own unique contexts.

For example the tradition of oral knowledge flowing from one generation to next can happen in the context of no formal education like that of today, if not it will die as we are seeing now.

Also tourism is a passive indulgence. Tourists become audience and the keepers of tradition become mere performers. This scenario kills the original context of a ritual or tradition. This proves to be disastrous in the long run for the culture.

Thanks for your comment, Sandy..

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