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Education For Social Transformation

Education For Social Transformation

The corporate sector has entered the field of education and many companies are investing heavily in educational institutions with the expectation of making huge profits. It is very sad to note that education in India is becoming a profit making business. Years ago many charitable and religious organizations in India started educational institutions with the pure intention of expanding literacy and education as a means for the development of the nation and a vehicle for human progress and social transformation. For them education was a mission.

Presently the main focus of those who run educational institutions is getting the best possible result in the board and university examinations.   In order to attract students to the schools various co-curricular activities are also added to the academic sessions. The noble ideals of education as a means for forming responsible citizens and bringing about change in the society are often missing. Before explaining how education can be made an effective tool for social transformation, it is important to know what should be the direction of social transformation or what kind of social transformation is needed. It is equally important to know what education means.

Direction of Social Transformation

The kind of social transformation we need in India is succinctly explained in the preamble of the Indian constitution. The vision of India and the means to be adopted to realize the vision are contained in the preamble.

The constitution of India envisages a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic and in order to realize this vision the people of India should be able to enjoy justice, equality, liberty and fraternity.  Once addressing a gathering of Christians, Justice Kurian Joseph told the audience that the values enshrined in the preamble of the Indian constitution are nothing but the values of the Kingdom of God, envisaged by Jesus. Education in the context of India should enable the students to contribute to build an India as envisioned in the Indian constitution. For Christians in India, education is an effective means to realize the vision of a society as envisaged by Jesus as well as the Indian constitution.

Outcome and Impact Orientated Education

If education is to become an effective tool for social transformation, the educational institutions have to focus on the Outcome and Impact of Education. According to Result Based Management (RBM), three levels of results are expected when a project is planned, implemented and evaluated. The three levels of results are Output, Outcome and Impact. Output refers to the immediate results; Outcome refers to the medium term results and Impact refers to the long term result. All three levels of results are different from one another, but they are inter-related and one leads to the other.

If we apply these three concepts to Education, Output refers to the achievement of a student in the public examinations in the form of marks or grade he/she scores. The achievements of a student in co-curricular activities like sports, games and cultural and literary spheres are also part of Output.

Outcome refers to the overall development of a student by the time he/she leaves the educational institution. Outcome specifically refers to character formation. To what extent a student has become a responsible and socially conscious citizen by imbibing the core ethical, moral and human values is the indicator of the Outcome in a student.

Impact is the change or transformation a student brings out in the society when he/she enters the public life as a professional or a government employee or a business person or an entrepreneur.   The crucial question is how a school knows about the changes its alumni are making in the society. Today technology has become handy to be in touch with the alumni. Whatsapp groups of the students passing out from the school every year can be formed and the school management can have frequent communication with the alumni. E-mail is another means for communicating with the alumni. The school can send at least two e-mail communications in a year to each alumnus: one on the birthday and another on an important festival day. Majority of the alumni will definitely respond and thus communication channel with the alumni will be made dynamic. They will communicate to the school authorities how they are contributing to the society through their professions and social interventions.  

Forming alumni association and holding meeting of the association regularly is another means for being in touch with the alumni. Each school or college shall have at least a part time person to communicate with the alumni. A senior teacher or a retired teacher who is well versed with internet and social media can be entrusted with the task of communicating with the alumni. But all communication to the alumni will have to go in the name of the principal of the school or college.

Social transformation through education can be realized mostly by focusing on Outcome and Impact. Unfortunately, at present large majority of people involved in education are mostly concerned about Output. Their investment on Outcome and Impact may be less than 10 percent in terms of time and other resources.

Steps to Make Education a Means for Social Transformation

If education has to become an effective means for social transformation, the focus should be on developing visionary leaders. Presently the whole concentration of schools is scoring highest mark by the students in view of getting admission to a prestigious higher education institution. The students are in a highly competitive atmosphere in the schools, which drains away many human qualities from them. Hence there is an urgent need for grooming visionary leaders along with academic excellence of the students.

The qualities a visionary leader has to imbibe are altruism, being original and creative by setting new trends, standing differently from the crowd, becoming spiritually oriented, sensitive to the poor and the marginalized in the society and commitment to the core values of Indian Constitution, particularly pluralistic democracy.

In view of transforming education as a means for social transformation the educational institutions, particularly schools may adopt certain policies.

·       The students are to be assisted to develop a broad, lasting and inclusive vision by organizing sessions on vision formulation. The management and the teachers have to give special attention on value formation in the students through various programmes.

·       The students should get opportunities for exposure to the life situation of the poor people and approaches in social transformation, which are being undertaken by individuals and organizations.

·       The students are to be motivated to pay back to the society for the opportunities they have got. It is very sad to note many individuals, who have got educational and financial support for their studies from the Catholic Church, forget even their own community members who are in dire need, when they are well paced in life.  

·       Maximum number of students should get opportunities when cultural programmes and sports are being organized.

·       Teachers, parents and student representatives are to be involved in the planning of various activities in the school. Each educational institution shall become role model of team work with participation, transparency and accountability.

·       In a context of increasing hatred and violence in the name of religion, one of the focus areas of educational institutions should be promoting pluralism by providing opportunities for students to learn about the basic tenants of all religions, celebrating the festivals of different religions, exhibiting quotes in the school buildings from different religious scriptures, related to universal values and conducting inter-religious prayer.

·       The vision and values of the Indian constitution are to be disseminated and promoted among the students, teachers and parents through various programmes. A constitution week with various kinds of competitions related to the constitutional values can be celebrated.

·       The teachers should have sufficient time to interact with students and parents.  

·       25% of admission to the economically poor students as per the Right to Education Act is to be implemented in all private schools. The Christian schools in India, which took exception from this obligation under the provisions of minority rights, should voluntarily give at least 25% of admission to the economically poor students.

Those who are responsible for running educational institutions have to ask themselves constantly: What are we doing? Is this what we should be doing? Is there a better way of doing? This questioning will lead to reinventing education through innovative means for bringing about transformation in the society.

(jacobpt48@gmail.com)

(Published on 05th August 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 32)