Implications of Education : The Present and the Future
Written by Tirthankar Chakraborty for Techkriti Blog for a Cause Contest
“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
– Albert Einstein
Or, at least, it has been attributed to Albert Einstein and is frequently used to criticise the education system by the internet. Though appeals to authority are tasteless and fallacious, the internet has a habit of using Einstein like a last word for justifying all types of personal opinions. But, regardless of the origin of the quotation, it does make sense at some level. Education is a system of learning, which is perceived as an effective means of imparting knowledge to individuals. Its efficacy, of course, depends on the individuals in question and their method of acquiring knowledge. This impartiality is the key reason why education is easy to disparage.
One of the primary reasons for the success of human beings, as a species, is the transference of knowledge through the generations. Humans aren’t genetically predisposed to using tools; it is a trait acquired during a person’s life. Also, given how important social constructs are in human society, conforming to them becomes a major part of the development phase in humans. Though this phase is also seen in chimps, where the infants are made accustomed to the ‘laws’ of the tribe, humans take it a step further by maintaining the preliminary part of the education system for this very purpose. This is not a criticism or a belittling of primary education. It is essential to circumvent the nuances of human society as an adult. But, factual knowledge rarely comes into the picture. It is used like a tool to get people ready for social incarceration. In the later stages, it is used to get individuals ready for the second part of the education, technical incarceration, or, as it’s commonly named, college education. Though this pertains to the majority of college education systems in India, there are some exceptions. The exceptions seek to emancipate individuals of that social incarceration by teaching them how to think beyond social constructs, or at least, identify with the subjectivity of those constructs. But, unfortunately, for the majority of cases, colleges become employee factories, ready to churn out semi-automated tools to jump into menial labour for the sake of economic stability. The system works, if the system is enforced upon the public. The professional ‘integrity’ of the different classes are sustained and everybody continues running along the hedonic treadmill till they die. This is why I have a problem when people equate going to college to receiving education or success. That would rarely have been the case, if social constraints were less apparent. Employers seek individuals with college degrees, regardless of the knowledge or intelligence of potential applicants. This holds true for practically every field and becomes the primary reason for going to college for many individuals. Yet, a large part of those individuals complain how they never utilize any of the knowledge they acquired during college for their professional careers. That is because the knowledge is a farce, used to motivate individuals while indoctrinating them to the ways of professional conformity.
We should be much more concerned about what the 10% college enrollment rate implies. In the country, 4% never start school, 58% don’t complete primary schools and 90% don’t complete school. This is the reason for the 10% college enrollment rate. They are not deemed qualified for college education. However, at the moment, the concern should be more on people completing school than people going to college. The difference in employment rate among college goers and high school graduates has more to do with social perception than actual competence. This social perception needs to change if we are to see any significant progress. Underemployment is more of a problem in India at the moment, with 85% of the youth considered overqualified for their positions. Moreover, the lack of primary education, which imparts the social conditioning we need to survive the myriad of seemingly arbitrary protocols, which define human society, is important for the existence of a well-adjusted society. But, there is a desperate need to change the system and make education a tool to incite critical thinking skills in youngsters. India, being a democratic country, needs the majority to have these skills to assess the effectiveness of the policies, which affect them the most. The method of education currently in place create sheep, ready to be manipulated into whatever belief system the ruling power considers convenient. However, some things have changed for the better. People are now considering alternative career paths, things that were considered to be immature and asinine even a few years back. However, these options are mostly available to the youth of the upper class and upper middle class. The majority still toil under the constraints of illogical social beliefs. Education fails to arouse interest in things, instead relying on spoon-feeding information in the hope of turning people into living hard disks.
India is a highly populated country and fabricating a system to accomplish these things through education is ambitious to begin with. However, its benefits can truly turn India into a paragon of social systems. The emancipation of the youth through proper education can lead to a generation of rational adults, which would reduce the illogical prejudices that permeate society, leading to even more freedom and choice for the next generation; a cycle which can only lead to the intellectual growth of the nation. Think about it – a reduction in biases, homophobia, gender-based discrimination (all genders, not just female), superstitions, religious fanaticism, cast-based clashes and corruption. The journey will be long and arduous. But, won’t the benefits be worth it? In the information age, we are no longer constrained by what is taught in classes. Be interested and start learning; and most importantly, learn how to learn.