‘Education’ happens to be the best-loved answer to the questions demanding solutions for societal problems. While this response cannot be challenged, there can and should be some curiosity regarding the nature of ‘education.’
What Is Education?
Is it the possession of institutional certificate?
Is it the development that an individual undergoes?
Or is it simply an instrumental condition that facilitates the acquisition of economic resources within a competitive framework?
I am inclined most towards the second definition. Education is a continuous process of creation of an empowered and enabled personality through exposure to institutional training and experiential conditioning. As such, education reflects an enriched quality of human personality. The lack of this quality reflects the lack of education.
Education Covers A Lot More Than Literacy
One must maintain caution while talking of education. There is a typical tendency to equate education with literacy. But in reality, education and literacy are two different terms. So, before we talk about literate vs educated, it’s better to understand what they actually mean.
A literate person is someone who can simply read and write, make cognitive sense of words and patterns, and use this sense to express themselves or comprehend the world around them. But an educated person is capable of all of that and more.
An educated person possesses and professes a rational outlook. He maintains a critical curiosity and harbors a healthy attitude towards the maintenance of intra and inter-personal relationships. He has respect for others. All these qualities nourish a personality and empower it to proceed further in a progressive journey.
There are many other characteristics that one may find suitable to be squeezed into the list of educated traits.
In the battle literate vs educated, an educated will always have a whip hand.
Education, on one hand, is a life-long process with different experiences contributing to the molding of personality. Whereas, Literacy is merely a part of education and in no way, guarantees a state of being educated.
An example might help in understanding the difference between education and literacy better-
If a researcher, possessing a Ph.D., rapes his maid, he, by no means, can be considered educated. Had he been educated, his rationality and sense of respect for another human being would have prevented him from engaging in this heinous act. However, there can be no suspicions regarding his qualifications, for he is very much literate, a little too much, perhaps. But the possession of a degree did not ensure educated conduct.
Therefore, education and literacy are two completely different terms.
Does it not point towards a very serious disease that ails our society? A disease which instead of attacking the body is attacking the cure, thereby precluding any chances of relief? The education system is the cure which is being afflicted by the ills such as of – restricted instrumentality, corruption, vested interests who would register loss with the popularization of education- and many others that are beyond the scope of this humble article.
While a lot of discussions have already taken place regarding the other factors, the restricted instrumentality factor deserves a little more light. Restricted instrumentality is an attitude, a belief which first equates literacy with education. Secondly, it views education merely as a facilitator in the process of securing a good job and hence, a stable economic future. Thus, it limits education within a strict economic framework.
Therein lay the problem.
It is not an entirely unjustifiable thing to desire and hence, it cannot be targeted to be routed like the factors of corruption and such. But it is harmful, nonetheless, because firstly it leaves no scope for the growth of that personality which has no profitable chance in the job market. It ensures that those conditions in terms of institutional facilities and even social support, which allow for the grooming of those personalities that are not economically profitable, are routinely targeted, if not repressed outright.
Consequently, it is able to transform the educational system into a production factory with cautious supervising, which systematically produces the type of product that is in demand and selectively pushing out and at times, destroying the undesired.
Restricted Instrumentality- An Obsolete Concept
Restricted instrumentality has escaped popular scrutiny primarily because it arises from the universal security complex. All of us wish to be secured- physically, economically, socially, and in all other ways. While the everyday person has surrendered to the possibilities of incurring physical harm, he/she is forever anxious about economic security.
Because economic well-being governs not only their prospects of leading a comfortable life but is also the major determinant of their social statures.
Since economic security gained such paramount importance, there was the need for a mechanism that would ensure the sustenance and continuation of this attitude, whereby the posterity is not given to being distracted from these primary ambitions. The education system fulfilled this need with utmost efficiency.
Also, the promotion of the need to pursue particular disciplines of training in order to have a ‘secure’ future became the super-attractive product from the Educational Advertising Agency, which the masses inculcated with amazing promptness.
Thus, by emphasizing on particular forms of training, it provided ample to satisfy the market demand, sometimes in surplus, and by promoting those forms, it ensured that this attitude persists over time.
The most notorious consequence of this attitude of restricted instrumentality is not the popularity, forced or otherwise, of particular disciplines and professions. But it is the corruption of the meaning of education.
Young children, who are mere beginners in the process, are made to understand that education is simply a way to secure a good job. If this is not stopped, they will lose all the desire to groom their multi-faceted personalities. Education will become a lifeless medium and the students its mechanical users.
The corruption of the meaning of education is concealed under layers of stories that this system has propped up to show its effectiveness. Its strength lies in the fact that these success stories are not entirely hollow.
But the problem lies elsewhere, not in the effectiveness of the system. The problem is with the restriction of the system, which if unleashed will assume an even greater form, with success stories far exemplary than the ones it has produced now. The need of the hour, therefore, is not to turn the tables, but to re-set the tables.
The original meaning of education needs to be revisited. Grooming of different forms of talents and personalities must be promoted. And the shackles that have restricted education should be broken. Only then, can we hope to develop not literate, but educated individuals.