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Paper on Education

Paper on Education

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Published by Kc Pandey

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Published by: Kc Pandey on Sep 11, 2010
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09/16/2010

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Is Higher Education a Profession in Crisis?
Dr. Kali Charan Pandey
Associate Professor Department of PhilosophyDDU Gorakhpur UniversityGorakhpur – 273009Email: phkc@rediffmail.com &kcpandeyp@yahoo.comPh. 0551-22003490-94510-50-439
“Imagine a young head, without much experience of life, being stuffed with fifty systems…andfifty criticisms of them, all jumbled up together – what an overgrown wilderness it will come to be! What a mockery of a philosophical education! It is, in fact, avowedly an education, not for  philosophy but for an examination in Philosophy.”Friedrich Nietzsche,
Thoughts Out of Season, III 
, p. 8.“The present system of education is all wrong. The mind is crammed with facts before it knowshow to think.”Swami Vivekananda,
CW 
, 8.280.
A recent evaluation report of the world’s universities and research institutions did notcome as a surprise to most of us who are in some way related to the higher education.The report envisages that none of the Indian institutions of higher education figured in thetop 300, while six Chinese institutions did.
1
 It is insignificant to illustrate that the quality of an institution is measured in termsof various factors such as research publications, patent, employability of its students,research facilities and output, emoluments of academics and academic ambience. Theseingredients of quality of education to a large extent have been ignored in such a way thatthey have become marginalized. It is this state of affairs which is the cause of crisis inhigher education.In this background, this paper is an attempt to delineate those constituents of crisisin higher education in India which are although important but unfortunately have beenrelegated to the margins in such a way that nobody seems to bother about them as if theyare not issues at all.1
 
The higher educational state of affair in India is like many scenes of a commercialcinema. Ordinarily many scenes of a commercial cinema appear unrealistic. Whilewatching such a cinema we doubt the credibility of the happenings on screen, however,that doesn’t cause us to stop watching it. That is to say, the doubt about the unrealisticnature of the cinema is not exclusive. It is partial. Somewhat similar can be said about theconstituents of the quality of education. When one is face to face with such a constituentin real life one may, many times, be surprised to note that how could that happen! Onemay doubt the fact itself which constitutes the – cinema - education. We keep on livingwith such doubts and let the disbelief be part and parcel of our routine life whether it iscinema or education. In our discussion on education, we shall come across many suchfacts which are not imaginary but which generally many of us are doomed to livethrough.The higher education constitutes of academic workers, administrative structures,systems, and conventional procedures. Academic workers or educationists includeteachers, teacher trainers, academics and policy makers. These all are responsible for thecrisis in higher education. The crisis is multi-faceted such as institutional mis-management and structural rigidity, financial constrains and commercialization of higher education, equity vs. quality debate, political interference, undue emphasis oninterdisciplinary and applied study and syllabi’s irrelevance,
 
and
 
integrity of academicworkers, and issues about moral basis of education. Notwithstanding ubiquitous presence of these constituents of crisis, which have been either ignored or not given due attention, by and large, there is a general agreementthat current state of affairs of education in general and higher education in particular inIndia is not only at its cross-roads but also passing through a worst phase.
2
It is a crossroad from where one can either move upwards to achieve a higher point in one’s attemptssuccessfully or slip downtown where remains nothing but despair and further inputs of degradation of the individual as well as the community. So the question is: why not moveupwards? Well, the answer is straightforward: for moving upward one needs to put muchefforts as compared to those needed for slipping downwards. It’s easy to succumb toshortcuts and populist measures and not to pay heed to what actually needs to be done.2
 
However, prior to our discussion on crisis in higher education in India, let us begin with conceptual treatment of education. The questions arise: What is education?How does education make a better human being? No one can deny that education canmake a better human being in the sense that man gets transformed into a superior reflective being. The mental and physical well being depends on the quality of education.As Vivekananda puts it: “Education, education, education alone! Travelling throughmany cities of Europe and observing in them the comforts and education of even the poor  people, there was brought to my mind the state of our own poor people, and I used toshed tears. What made the difference? Education was the answer I got.”
3
 It’s a well know fact that Plato’s
 Republic
, which elaborately for the first timedeals with the philosophy of education, is concerned with educating people in such a waythat justice prevails in the society. Plato’s famous ‘allegory of cave’ shows that human beings are living in the world of ignorance. Education enlightens and brings us out fromthe cave of ignorance. In brief, for Plato the basic purposes of education are that (a) it isrequired for society as well as for the individual, (b) the education builds up character aswell intelligence, and (c) the education is capable of transforming individual in a bettehuman being. A similar point of view can be found in Vivekananda’s thoughts oneducation. For him, “We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s ownfeet.”
4
And further, “Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.”
5
 There is no doubt that education transforms human beings. Locke regarded themind of an infant as
tabula
 
rasa
– a blank sheet/ dark chamber - which is written withthe experiences of life in due course of time. That is, the child learns through her ownexperiences. The education is different from one’s own experiences as it is intentionallyand purposefully directed to transform the individual in a certain way throughintroduction of some skills. Better educated person is different from a poorly educatedone as former has been trained and exposed to better skills and therefore supposedly has become better work force.However, gathering information is not education. It “is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. Wemust have life-building, man making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have3

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