Gandhi’s Concept on Education and Its Relevance in the Present Day
V.N. Rajashekharan Pillai The Purpose of Education
have been involved in the university system for more than 30 years. I used to interact with a large number of under-graduate students in the colleges and universities. I used to go to the colleges and universities to address students as a Vice Chancellor. Society has always been criticizing and doubting the purpose of education. What is the purpose of education in society? Dr. Radhakrishnan in his address today discussed the relevance of Gandhism and Buddhism in the cyber age. I used to talk in my lectures about the dehumanizing and alienating aspects of education. I used to tell students, particularly high-school and college-age students, about the dehumanizing aspect of the established types of education being offered. In my lectures, I used to give an example of a highly educated brother and his almost illiterate brother. When something unpleasant happens, such as a ﬁre or a bus accident, in the immediate vicinity of this illiterate brother and the highly sophisticated and educated brother, the moment the illiterate brother hears about this accident, he will run to that place as a sort of reﬂex action. The educated brother, he will ponder the situation and remark, “I will not go at any cost.” He will even try to prevent his illiterate brother from going to that place and offering help to the victim. He will say, “Don’t go there as there will be problems.” The educated brother probably will not go to that place: He will wait to ﬁnd out what happened the next day: Probably he will send a condolence message to the family of victim, or if he is one of the highly educated and sophisticated types of people, he will send a condolence message through the newspapers. That is an example of the type of education we are offering. Today, I will concentrate my remarks on Gandhi’s views on education, with particular reference to India, and I will touch on some aspects of the Buddhist view on education. This alienation, this dehumanization aspect of the established types of education is happening in India because we do not understand Gandhi’s views on education. Dr. Radhakrishnan has also made passing remarks 71
GANDHI’S CONCEPT ON EDUCATION
on the tension being created among the educated youth because of the established types of education and the over domination of science and technology. It is not the over domination of science, but it is probably the misinterpretation of science and technology that is the underlying cause for much of the tension. We have heard about several of the educational reports contained in the UNESCO Report on Education that examines the different types of tension that are being created in educated individuals. The tension that exists between tradition and modernity is a very signiﬁcant tension. This tension between tradition and modernity is not a new thing. Right from the start of the industrial revolution, this tension between tradition and modernity has been there. Not only in education, but also in the Arts, Literature, and our day-to-day dress, these tensions exist. Then there is the tension between materialism and spirituality, or you can call it the tension between science and religion. There is also a tension in the area of development, for example our view about long-term development and our short-term requirements. There is a feeling that science and technology can solve our problems immediately, and naturally, we resort to immediate, short-term solutions, neglecting the long-term views on development, thus, naturally causing concern in realms of the environment, ecology, and other areas. If modern education is creating tension between these areas of concern, we deﬁnitely need to build consensus because of the way in which education is imparted. When people ask me about the purpose of education, or to deﬁne education, I refer to what Mahatma Gandhi said...
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