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Emerging Role of Quality of Higher Education Institutions in Indian Education Ecosystem

A Note based on the deliberations and ideas generated in the “BW Higher Education Conclave” held at Bengaluru, on 1st September 2017.

BW Conference1 01092017

I must congratulate the organizers of “BW Higher Education Conclave” to catch the latest conceptual phrase of ECO-SYSTEM. We have gotten into the habit of thinking in clichés and this one is the latest one. Probably it means ecology of education, Or the interconnections, connectivity and inter-relationships which affect each other at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of all happenings in education in the country. Let me divide this dynamic structure in three parts for the sake of understanding:-

1. Environment that impinges upon higher education;
2. Factors impinging upon the quality of higher education; and,
3. Cultural factors encouraging or retarding the needed change.

As far as the Environment of education is concerned we have the following;
1. UNESCO statistics state that India has enrolment number of 28.6 million students against the US number of 20 million and China number of 34.1 million. A good number indeed. But when you break the Indian number of students you find that of the total enrolment number, 79.87 are enrolled in the Under Graduate classes and 11.45 % in the PG; only 0.34% are enrolled in M.Phil. and 0.10 are in the Ph.D. This is a strong indication of the dismal position of research-led educational degrees in the country which stands always, in every society, in direct proportion to the scientific research being conducted in the country. India shows a big time lag in its educational achievements, and that is where we all have come here to think where to go.

2. What affects economy of the country also affects the education. What the mixed economy did to India in the sixties and the seventies in the context of development; and which perhaps was the most needed thing for a newly independent nation like India to do; it also did to education. As a result, the country rightly has the right to boast about excellent beginning in engineering education, medical education, number of institutions etc. but all under the government investment but with the happy trend of free education. This investment is paying off today in having a vast army of our engineers and scientists nourishing a global economy, which is slowly turning in favourable aspects of the Indian side. But as much as the Indian economy remained under the control of the government, so has the education administration. As a result of this, private education could not be profit-oriented; and to this day remains an area of charity, free social work or an action of altruism. As a result of this, many times professionalism and economy of such ventures suffer.

3. Historic changes and impacts of technology on every aspect of individual, social and national life resulting in:-
a. Overall heightening of aspirations of the dominant population which is constituted of youth. Never ever before in the country’s history has there been so much HOPE; yes, hope of perceived opportunity with which comes a vibrancy in society that constitutes a formidable social capital;
b. Industrial growth, mainly in the small and medium industry- sometimes organized but mostly unorganized sector;
c. Widening of services sector of economy, and of Commerce; not only in their economic aspects but also of the initiatives linked with legal and legislative measures;
d. Changes in Lifestyle with new dimensions in entertainment, expenditure, consumption patterns and informal spread of knowledge and technology-savvy interaction and communication; and,
e. Several connected issues of transformation and change in society that all converge on the need and result of more education, information and knowledge.

4. The great divide. The great Digital divide; Technology divide; Literacy and Education divide; Prosperity divide etc. All these divides show up in widening of disparities in the country resulting in angst living side by side of the great Hope in this great age of Anger today.

5. Changing economic and employment relationships; and,

6. Assertion of the felt need of Quality Assurance, Accreditation, Ranking etc to mark, indicate and create a hot environment of competition, quality assurance and new compulsions to survive in an atmosphere of faster life style. It is also visible quite blatantly in the matter of higher education today.

Factors impinging upon the quality of higher education are too well known;
However it would be useful to revisit them not in a way of what lacks in our universities and higher education by way of measuring lack of quality but by reviewing on factors that lie behind the success of world class universities. Literature on education have mentioned time and again several such factors. However, the most important ones that have a way of providing high inspirational impetus to our institutions are:-

1. Pursuit of excellence; pursuit of the most ideal forms of learning, teaching and doing research. And here by excellence I mean what I said in an interview with Competition and Success Review sometime back:
“…….. excellence in education lies in our ability to elicit students’ quality response to our teaching. And in order to have better student response, the teacher will have to connect himself with students. … The intervening factors between a teacher and a student are not ignorance or lack of information alone, but a lot of other factors like culture, values, methods and above all integration. So the connection, the integration, ought to be complete…”
Student’s response to teaching carries whole gamut of possibilities and norms like questioning the cause, existence, volume of education, extant of possibilities to do more in one’s chosen field; and Research. Education is for the student and the researcher. It is all about making a student capable of crossing the Rubicon of one’s ambition or life goal. This is possible when the STANDARDS ARE VERY HIGH. So comes with “excellence” in education is the standard that our society will set with education. If our standards remain frozen for a long time, and if we do not revise our syllabi, modes of learning, interactional patterns, collaborations with other institutions of excellence and funding structures and methods, then we simply go “out of date”. Nothing in the world is worse than being called outdated! So, the first lesson lies here: GO FOR A NATION-WIDE REVISION OF SYLLABI AND RESEARCH NEEDS.

2. Finding new avenues of research; and being probing and creative in finding leading positions in our Science and Technology research. If we do not have this culture and apparatus of research, then we lag behind. Time, in the manner it is moving in the field of technology, is in utmost shortage today. Any time lag between our knowledge load and the best that has been achieved already, will put your institution down not by the measure of the lag but many multiples of that. Time lag works in its result in geometrical proportion. So, the second lesson is: BE LATEST. Revise the books, collaborate as much as possible; get, import or buy the latest knowledge posts and train our teachers to avoid time lag.

3. An excellent university selects, retains and incentivizes best teachers, researchers and students. Means are important for doing this. Let there be a nation-wide debate about how it is to be done. If there is a shortage of teachers in the country on a subject, we find ways of getting more.

4. Excellent institutions of higher education are not objects or products. They are evolving beings in an ecosystem of mutual benefit and cooperation. They have certain integral system of competence and capability of not only creating knowledge and information but also wealth. Patents, industrial inroads and collaborations, research-for-profit, knowledge production in forms of papers and books are some of the hallmarks of a productive ecosystem of knowledge and wealth. This factor of excellence in education demands a very intelligent policy response from the government and a positive attitude of civil society towards the profession of teaching. Do we rate the teachers high and give them the respect in the manner Germany and Japan does, or we treat them like salaried employees come to teach as the last resort of failures in the job market? Or have we created that situation for them?

5. Excellent institutions stand in a society that gives them full autonomy to work, to plan, to think and to execute their plan.

6. Excellence in higher education also demands excellence in education at primary and secondary levels of schooling. So, by implication, the factor that impinges upon the quality of education is a holistic way of improving education from the beginning.

Cultural factors encouraging or retarding the needed change in quality;
1. Attitude of society to education. This factor can best be dealt with by answering following questions:-
a. How do we rate our teachers? How do we rate them in terms of their salary, respect, autonomy in decision making and pursuing of excellence?
b. How does society- including government-respond to the new investors in education by law, by new legislations and by the proposition of equality in status Vis a vis the pre-established set up of higher education. Do we make the private universities- comprising whopping +31% of the total number of universities- feel at home in status and government rules! Here, while I maintain this question, I am also aware of the fact that excellence of its own has a strength of attraction. Some private universities in the country have begun well in the quality measure of education and standards. So, given the space, private investors in education have been able to create a new environment of excellence in education.

2. No change in any society is possible unless there is a consensus on what we wish to achieve. This consensus is somehow implicit in our democratic set up where legislation is done in the state or in the centre and initiatives are taken by both- the government as well as the people. Nothing works more and better than the collective will of the people which eventually turns into cultural mores. Agreeing with Dr. Mashelkar who in his famous book Re-inventing India gives a wonderful recipe for creating world class Research-led universities and institutions in India, I’ll list out a few cultural imperatives for our society and government to follow:-

a. High Political Will, Ambition and massive Funding like China has done;
b. We have got to agree that India needs still more than 31% investment in education to make education sector as a creative and self-sustaining for-profit sector of economy as well, and not just a matter or part of residual social work. Yes, the matter of plentiful of scholarships can be made a matter of not-for-profit especially for a number of students who do not wish to avail loans. India must be open to the idea of having more university campuses of excellent foreign universities.

3. Innovation is the key of Science and technology research. Society, industry and the University together will make a network of efforts to create demand for this, so that, in turn manufacturing can be augmented. So there will have to be ways of such collaborations as will dovetail our research and development into the industrial output.

4. Quality education demands quality teaching. As I have said earlier, if we do not have enough of quality teachers we should be open to hire from other places in globalized society. No globalization is complete unless the global ethos comes closer to portals of learning.

5. Inclusion of the kind suggested above, excellence of the kind demanded of the time, and expansion of the kind envisaged in the demand of education for the burgeoning youth population in the country—are all possible only if there is collective and political will in our governments, in our administration, and in our economy.

I have come across recently a paper circulated by the Yes Bank that emphasized on the term Glocalisation for quality improvement in education. This term GLOCALISATION, I think means thinking global and doing local simultaneously. You may find any number of votaries on this thought. However, we must be on guard about one thing, that the knowledge in its ultimate and eventual manifestation may not always be euro-centric. It is often said and emphasized on the name of quality excellence in teaching that the teachers are responsible for creating universal values among the students. Some modernists argue that the teaching should be value-neutral and that the teachers should most (and at least) fill the student’s mind with clarification about values while emphasizing that the facts ought to be value-neutral. But we also know that science and technology is value-neutral. Hence the only value that eventually ought to prevail is the value of unity in diversity where the world is one big family: vasudhaiva kutumbakam.

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महावीर… महावीर स्वामी

Navkar-Mantraआज महावीर जयंती है… एक सवाल मन में चल रहा था सुबह से ही – एक व्यक्ति जो अहिंसा की बात करता है, जिसने कोई युद्ध नही लड़ा वो महावीर क्यों कहलाया?

पढ़ने बैठा तो ध्यान गया कि नमोकार को जैन परंपरा ने महामंत्र कहा है। नमोकार नमन का सूत्र है, यह पांच चरणों में है। समस्त जगत में जिन्होंने भी कुछ पाया है, जिन्होंने भी कुछ जाना है, जिन्होंने भी कुछ जीया है, जो जीवन के अंतर्तम गूढ़ रहस्य से परिचित हुए हैं, जिन्होंने मृत्यु पर विजय पाई है,जिन्होंने शरीर के पार कुछ पहचाना है- उन सबके प्रति नमस्कार… यहां नमन है पौरुष के प्रति।

महावीर का मार्ग तो साहस का है… एक छोटा बच्चा मां की उंगली छोड़ कर बीहड़, निर्जन मार्ग पर अकेला चल पड़े; आपदाओं, बाधाओं से जूझता हुआ, अंत में गंतव्य तक पहुंच जाए। महावीर ने समस्त सहारे तोड़ दिए, महावीर ने समस्त सहारों की धारणा तोड़ दी और व्यक्ति को पहली दफा उसकी परम गरिमा में और महिमा में स्थापित किया है। और यह मान लिया है कि व्यक्ति अपने ही भीतर इतना समर्थ है, इतना शक्तिवान है कि वो वीर से महावीर बन सकता है…।

पौरुष के अप्रतिम प्रतीक महावीर की अहिंसा में भी स्वनिर्भरता है, निर्भीकता हैै। महावीर स्वामी के ‘अहिंसा परमो धर्मः’ सूत्र के मूल रूप को समझने, आडम्बरपूर्ण पलायनवादी प्रवर्ति से बचने तथा अहिंसा शब्द को अपनी मानसिक कायरता की ढ़ाल न बनाने का राष्ट्रीय संकल्प ही श्री महावीर स्वामी जी के प्रति सच्चा भक्तिभाव हो सकता है।

शुभकामनायें!

 

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Time to rediscover Gandhi and to redefine Non-Violence.

My dear friends,

I am thankful to the members of Gandhi Peace Mission 2015 for inviting me to attend the inaugural session of International Peace Summit at Beliaghata, Kolkata, a place which symbolizes inter-community harmony and coherence.

International Peace Summit 2015

To stand and speak in this historical Gandhi Bhawan, where Gandhiji lived during his visits to Kolkata and where he fasted for 25 days from August 13, 1947 during the partition riots, means a lot for me. Thank you once again.

Hope you will agree with me that whenever we talk about Gandhiji, we project non-violence as a weapon against violence. But we forget that if non-violence is a weapon, then it shall not be with individuals, not with common men. Weapons are the tools of violence, all decent men detest them. As a weapon shall be with the government, with the law enforcing agencies only; this is exactly what happened – for us it has become the task of the government, of the law enforcing agencies to ensure non- violence, peace, equality and brotherhood in the society without the contribution of the society at all.

Standing here today, I wish to ponder over Gandhi ji’s role and his philosophy of non-violence in bringing peace in the riot affected Kolkata of August 1947. Once the struggle for independence was over, and the nation was preparing to celebrate its first Independence Day, instead of participating in celebrations, Gandhiji went to Kolkata on a new mission – a mission against communalism, a mission against violence, a mission against hatred. Gandhiji’s Kolkata mission and his fast was not meant to activate the government or the law-enforcing agencies, but to convey the message that non-violence, peace, harmony and brotherhood are our Dharma. As Buddha said ‘अहिंसा परमो धर्मः’, the same thing Gandhiji said again and again to all those who were killing fellow Indians in the name of Dharma itself. He knew that what no army could do, feeling of dharma could. And the miracle happened. The city of hatred became the city of joy. This miracle of Kolkata needs to be propagated, the word “non-violence” needs to be redefined from the perspective of Dharma rather than a weapon. Then only we shall be able to achieve our goal of universal peace and brotherhood.

One more thing I will like to emphasise upon from this platform; we need to understand that no growth is possible in isolation. For growth, for development different factors are required to be there. The government has to realize and understand it. The policies shall be such as will promote interdependence in society. When a seed is put in the ground, and earth and water and air are placed around it, does the seed become the earth, or the air or water? No, it becomes the plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into its own life-material and grows into a plant. Similar is the case with religion. A Hindu is not to become a Muslim, or a Christen; nor a Muslim or Christen has to become a Hindu to live peacefully in today’s world. But each one must assimilate the spirit of the other and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth. Then only peace will prevail in our world.

The Kolkata period of Gandhiji was his best period as a Satyagrahi, when at 77 he without any purvagrah (prejudice) was on a mission of peace and love. I personally feel that here in Kolkata, Gandhiji was acting greater than Bhishma Pitamah of Mahabharata. Bhishma was keen to follow his dharma only, but Gandhiji was not only fulfilling his dharma by fasting, by praying but with those actions of his was morally forcing others to follow the dharma. This face of Gandhiji has been neglected by the history. May be we never wanted to tell the world that Gandhiji was not happy with the blood –soaked partition, and he refused even to participate in the ‘celebrations’. This act of courage, where insistence with love, faith and trust brought peace, needs to be shared with our children.

The time has come when we need to ensure that Gandhiji is not deified to be worshipped as a deity in an alcove but that he was always a teacher, with enormous moral compulsion, and we and our children know him as a teacher of immense persuasion. I wish to request all my friend here to take this magic of Gandhiji to schools, colleges and universities using modern technology. Having Gandhi Centers alone will not serve the purpose, we need to take Gandhiji to the masses again. I believe that this summit will ignite a new spark in the nation, especially in the young generation to understand the meaning of peace and brotherhood, and to rediscover the real Gandhi. I am thankful to Dr Sankar Sanyal and Prof Radhakrishnan and all of you for your sincere efforts that Gandhiji remains alive where it matters most—in our heart and mind, and in action of love and peace. May this mission be a success, may we shine in unity, and may we live in peace and remain in harmony with each other always!

Thank you!

(Excerpt of the Inaugural address delivered in International Peace Summit organized by Gandhi Peace Mission 2015 at historical Gandhi Bhawan at Beliaghata, Kolkata on 02 February, 2015)

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Speeches and talks

 

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Time to redefine education: Children need to be taught ‘How to think’ not ‘What to think’

Time to redefine education:  Children need to be taught ‘How to think’ not ‘What to think’

 “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

“Education” means: to draw out that which is within you, to make your potential actual, like you draw water from a well. Education should prepare you to be yourself. Education is a bridge between the potentiality and the actuality. Education is to help you to become that which you are only in a seed form. Education should give people better ways of life, how to live more totally and more intensely; better ways of loving, better ways of beautifying existence — without any comparison with others — just for your sheer contentment.

Swami Vivekananda points out that the defect of the present-day education is that it has no definite goal to pursue. A sculptor has a clear idea about what he wants to shape out of the marble block; similarly, a painter knows what he is going to paint. But a teacher, he says, has no clear idea about the goal of his teaching.

Right now education prepares you to be an imitator; it teaches you how to be like others. This is miseducation. Right education will teach you how to be yourself, authentically yourself. You are unique. There is nobody like you, has never been, will never be. This is a great respect that God has showered on you. This is your glory, that you are unique. Don’t become imitative, don’t become carbon copies. But that’s what your so-called education goes on doing: it makes carbon copies; it destroys your original face. But never, even by mistake, does it says to you, “Just be yourself; relax and enjoy your being, and bring your potential to its maximum unfoldment.”

Today, all education remains part of the mind; it does not make you more alert, more conscious, it simply fills you with information. It treats you like a computer. It gives you a livelihood, but it does not give you life, and it does not give you love. Our whole education system is based on giving ready-made answers. Because of those ready-made answers you never develop your intelligence; there is no need. You ask the question and a computer teacher answers them.

Education is not bringing peace and silence and blissfulness to people. There is something missing in it; it is only education in subjects which do not touch your interior being at all. They may make you doctors, engineers, professors, but they do not give you the insight that can create a good human in you. Why from outside, borrowed knowledge is being forced into the minds of innocent children.

You go on accumulating degrees and inside you remain empty. Your degrees can befool people, may even befool yourself, but you cannot have the joy, the blissfulness, the peace, the silence, and the compassion. And unless education has two wings, it cannot fly in the sky in total freedom. Right now it has only one wing; the other wing is missing. Why is it missing?

We need an education which is nonviolent, education which is not only informative but also transformative, an education that will make you more of an individual and bring the best in you to its flowering. “Know thyself” must be the most precious education, and then you can become acquainted with everything else.

One-third of our education should be concerned with livelihood; one-third of our education should be concerned with our well-being — body, health, ways to stay younger and live longer. And one-third — the last and the most important — should be concerned with love, with death, and the secrets of life itself. Only then will we have a wholesome education. And through that education, we can create a man and a society which will be healthy, youthful, loving, soulful, overflowing with joy, always ready to share with anyone — because nobody is a stranger on the earth; the whole earth is one family.

An education is complete when it is inner and outer both. We have to find a human kind of education in the world; the education that exists is very inhuman. We have to find ways so that children can play in the sun and still learn a little arithmetic. That can be done — once we know that arithmetic is not so important as playing in the sun, once that thing has been decided, then we can find ways. A little arithmetic can be taught, and a little is needed. Everybody is not going to become an Albert Einstein. And those who are going to become Albert Einstein, they won’t bother playing in the sun — their joy is arithmetic, that is their poetry. Then it is different, then it is totally different; then the growth is not hindered and guilt is not created.

“Real education need to bring out what is hidden in you… what God has put in you as a treasure… to discover it, to reveal it, to make you luminous. Education is to bring you from darkness to light.”

(Inspired by the Talks of Swami Vivekananda and Osho on education)

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2014 in Speeches and talks

 

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From Teaching to Thinking

We can learn from anybody and everybody in life.

Kunwar Shekhar VijendraKnowledge is not to be found outside. No teacher, no scripture can give it to you. It is inside you and if you wish to attain it, seek your own company. Be one with yourself.
Be curious… eager… and probing. Those who gone deeper have found the pearl.

Unfortunately, today our entire education is past-oriented. All our doctrines, ideas and ideals are taken from the past. That is what is dead and gone. We are trying to impose thousand years old things on the minds of our children.

There was a king who wanted to appoint a minister. An announcement was made that anybody who would solve the puzzle given by the king will become his minister. And
the puzzle was simple- there was a lock on the door of the Darbar, and the candidates were supposed to open that . But the lock was an odd one. Quite big and of such a shape as nobody had seen earlier… very futuristic. No teacher had ever taught about such a lock, no book had ever mentioned such a lock.

There was confusion now. Fear too. All three candidates who reached the final round wondered what to do.

The first one got up and asked the king for some time, as he wanted to go through his books; his notes that his teacher had given him in the class. But the poor chap never realized that he was taught only a part of the past.

The second one also asked the king for more time, as wanted to go and meet some lock picker… Some thieves, who knew how to break a lock and find solution to this enigma. But he too forgot that no one had ever picked a futuristic lock.

The third one was free from the pull of the past. He had a futuristic outlook towards knowledge; and he decided first to look at the lock. He wanted to feel the lock; he wanted to understand the problem more clearly. And then he touched the lock. And lo and behold! It was unlocked!! As if it was never keyed on!

We need to develop such an environment where past does not dominate the future; we need to provide an opportunity to students to think, to learn, and to experience on there own.

We need to stop teaching the story of hare and tortoise where the consistent but the slow one could only win. We need to teach the story of how we can win by identifying and utilizing our own unique inner strength.

I remember a story of the frog race. There was a race where the frogs had to run and climb a tree…. Frogs climbing trees is something unbelievable. Everybody was ready but had fear… and the race started….

All frogs were running fast, jumping high…. but there was a crowd, a crowd of those who never believed that frogs could ever climb. The crowd was shouting slogans, displaying their disbelief about the climbing ability of the frogs. “Stop you idiots… you can never climb a tree”, some shouted.

And suddenly frogs stopped. They were standing, they were confused and even some were smiling by themselves as if asking – `what an idiot I’m, how could I believe that I can climb a tree’.

But there was one… who was running, who was jumping and whom everybody in the crowd thought was gone mad. And to everyone’s surprise he climbed up the tree…. Yes, a frog climbed on the tree. An utter silence prevailed. Nobody could believe it. And then, suddenly everybody was clapping, everybody was shouting slogans that yes we knew that frogs could also climb the tree. They asked the winner how he could climb but the winner frog was not listening, and he actually didn’t listen because he couldn’t. He was deaf.

This is the secret of success, believe in yourself, don’t listen to the crowd, do what you are doing with confidence and you will win. Learn to speak dreams loud and share them with the world with proud.

Same is the case with the teachers, with administrators… Stop being critics of your students, of your team members; let them work, let them perform and they will give results for sure.

I have also observed a new behavioural tendency. If I am close to the boss I am also the boss. It is just like my driver claiming to be a boss as he is one person who works closely with me, who moves with me. Stop this approach. It will harm you. Be your own boss, be your own servant and you will find the results. You have to prove your worth to yourself. You have to be responsible to your responsibilities; don’t try to be a boss of others.

I thank all the teachers and my wonderful students to be a part of this journey of empowerment. Your success will only make us proud. You are our ambassadors and please ensure you remain one worthy of praise always.

My best wishes to all of you on Adarsh Teacher’s Day.

No, explanation is not needed – only exclamation, a wondering heart, awakened, surprised, feeling the mystery of life each moment. Then, and only then, you know what truth is. And truth liberate ~ Osho

(Excerpt of the talk delivered on Adarsh Teacher’s Day at Shobhit University Gangoh on 05 September, 2014)

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Speeches and talks

 

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Quotes I Quote: a reflection of my learning journey

Since last few years, I had been sharing quotes on my Facebook wall.

Every quote has an originating past and a history behind it.

Recently, I compiled 365 of my favorite quotes.

On New Year, I am sharing the same with my fellow travelers of this virtual world…

you have helped me in learning a lot new in my life.

 Quotes I Quote” is a thankful note

to all teachers of my life!

QiQ (Quotes I Quote) - An eBook by KSV_Page_001

 

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Spread of Education by Prophet Mohammed’s Companions

The only way to empower the human race is by educating them. The first word revealed of the Quran was “Iqra” – Read! Seek knowledge! Educate yourselves! Be educated.

In Islam to seek knowledge is considered a sacred duty. The acquiring of knowledge is worship, reading the Quran and pondering upon it is worship, travelling to gain knowledge is worship. The practice of knowledge is connected with ethics and morality – with promoting virtue and combating vice, enjoining right and forbidding wrong. This is called in Quran: “Amr bil-l ma’ruuf wa nah-y ani-l munkar”. It is obligatory on every Muslim, male and female.

Kunwar Shekhar VijendraProphet Mohammed through his companions wanted this message to spread throughout the world. Prophet Mohammed and his companions laid very much emphasis upon the importance of education. As the Supreme Head of the first Islamic State, Prophet Mohammed decreed education as incumbent on all people, male or female. It is on record that with a view to spread education
at a mass level, he declared it compulsory immediately after the establishment of the first coalition government at Madinah. It was in the very second year of the regime that his law regarding compulsory education began to be implemented.

His companions followed him in laying emphasis upon education. It is also on record that some of the Prophet’s companions visited Malabar in India even during the Prophet’s lifetime and spread education in that part of the land. They didn’t only strive for primary but also higher education, and established a number of internationally reputed seats of learning there.

For Prophet Mohammad Saheb, education was a weapon to liberate humankind and rid the world of the human suffering caused by ignorance and other societal ills. The companions of the Prophet spread such education which helped a person to be a whole man. The true goal of education was the cultivation of individual character on the basis of respect for humanity. The education was
guided by the principle of -Totality.

A lot of efforts are made even today but somehow the totality is missing. Since I am not a specialist in the field, I have no intention of discussing individual education methods or the various aspects of the educational system that require reforms but will like to speak on the big concern of missing the Concept of totality.

When I speak of totality I mean interrelation. Nothing or event exists in isolation; everything is interrelated in some way with everything else to produce one great total
image. To take an immediately apparent example, I might cite the human body itself in which the head, hands, torso, legs, internal organs and all individual cells are intimately intermeshed to form the whole. And we cannot overlook the connection between the physical and spiritual.

From ancient times, the ability to perceive the invisible threads interweaving all things has been considered a kind of wisdom, but today’s education system has turned its back on this wisdom and has pursued a continual course of fragmentation. A person who has technical education today does not know anything about religious education
and vice versa. The education we are spreading today is an education in piecemeal. We are forgetting that an educated and informed person who does not know the connections among things differs from a dictionary only in that he eats and the dictionary does not.

We all know that the future depends, for us, on education. We know also that this education, to be of any avail, must extend through all degrees, from its lowest and humblest applications, up to the highest and most disinterested grades. We must have technical education and we must have a higher research also. We must have education of women, as well as education of men. We must have secular education, as well as religious. And, almost more important than any of these, we must have education of the people, and for this, we must depend upon ourselves.

Education separated from society can have no vital force; likewise, there is no future for a society that forgets that education in totality is its true mission. Education is not a mere right or obligation. I believe education in the broadest sense is the mission of every individual. To awaken this awareness throughout society must be the highest priority.

If a religion is worthy of the name, and if it is one that can respond to the needs of contemporary times, it should be able to nurture in its followers the spiritual base for becoming good citizens of the world through education in totality.

The crisis of education is a crisis of life. The crisis we face today strikes at the very roots of education and learning. And yet it is in education and learning that we will find the doorway to the future.

I request that we accept responsibility for the future of humankind. From the bottom of my heart, I ask the members of Markazi Jamiat Ahl-E-Hadees Hind to do all within their power to make fine whole human beings of our youth. I shall conclude my remarks by expressing my hope for and pride in the part that the Prophet’s Companions played for humanity by spreading education of love, peace and empowerment.

Jai Hind.

(‘Prophet Mohammed’s Companions and Spread of Education’, excerpt of the speech delivered at a public meeting at Ramlila Grounds, Delhi at the invitation of ‘Markazi Jamiat Ahl-E-Hadees Hind’)

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Speeches and talks

 

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