Intro : In ancient times emphasis used to be primarily on building the character of a student. But today, right from the schools up to the professional colleges, emphasis is on acquiring techniques and not values.
Since about a century before Independence during the British regime, Macaulay System of Education was introduced and implemented. The object of which as stated by him in the British Parliament on February 2, 1835 reads:- “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this Country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”.
They were successful to a substantial extent. However, the fact remains that side by side our great national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, Madan Mohan Malviya, Arvind Ghosh, Dr Radha Krishnan and a few others like Ramakrishna Mission who established private educational institutions, made valuable contribution for resurrecting Bharatiya values in our education system as part of struggle for freedom. But unfortunately, after Independence though there have been a few private educational centres which continue to follow the same trend, by and large the Macaulay system of education has been continuing for about six decades which has disastrous consequences on our culture including National Education System.
Realising this, as also the absolute necessity of reforming our education system so as to fulfill the national requirements, particularly a Committee headed by SB Chavan, the then HRD minister made certain valuable recommendations which were accepted by the Parliament and the Government of India. The Constitutional validity of it was challenged before the Supreme Court of India by Aruna Roy. The Supreme Court on an elaborate consideration of the matter dismissed the petition. The long and enlightening and well considered judgment on the subject is reported in 2002 (7) SCC 368.
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In this public interest litigation filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, it has been mainly contended that the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE) published by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is against the constitutional mandate, anti-secular, and without consultation with Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) and, therefore, requires to be set aside. Admittedly, CABE is in existence since 1935 and it is submitted that uptil now before framing the new NCFSE, the CABE was always consulted.
Although there has been great advancement in science and technology, there has been a gradual erosion of values which is reflected in the day-to-day life of a large section of our present society. Our young generation under the growing influence of negative aspects of Western culture, is stranded on the cross-roads, not able to decide which direction to take.
In ancient times in Gurukuls, emphasis used to be primarily on building the character of a student. Today, right from the schools up to the professional colleges, emphasis is on acquiring techniques and not values. We seem to have forgotten that skills acquired on computers tend to become outdated after sometime but values remain forever. In other words, present day education is nothing but an information transmission process. Our educational system aims at only information based knowledge and the holistic views turning the student into a perfect human being and a useful member of society has been completely set aside.
Truth (Satya), Righteous Conduct (Dharma), Peace (Shanti), Love (Prema) and Non-violence (Ahinsa) are the core universal values which can be identified as the foundation stone on which the value-based education programme can be built up. These five are indeed universal values and respectively represent the five domains of human personality -intellectual, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. They also are correspondingly corelated with the five major objectives of education, namely, knowledge, skill, balance, vision and identity.
Primary school stage is the period in child’s life when seed of value education can be implanted in his/her impressionable mind in a very subtle way. If this seed is nurtured by the capable hands of dedicated teachers in school, if they insert values at appropriate intervals during a child’s school life, it can be easily said that half the battle in building up national character has been won.
The Committee is in agreement with the widely accepted view that value-based education should be introduced at the school level and extended to college and university level. In the secondary stage, some advanced values which are of vital importance for national integration should be integrated into the Syllabus.
Undisputedly, the aforesaid SB Chavan Committee’s report was placed before the Parliament for discussion. None can also dispute that past five decades have witnessed constant erosion of the essential social, moral and spiritual values and increase in cynicism at all levels. We are heading for a materialistic society disregarding the entire value based social system. None can also dispute that in secular society, moral values are of utmost importance. A society where there are no moral values, there would neither be social order nor secularism. Bereft of moral values secular society or democracy may not survive.
In the result, this petition is dismissed with no order as to costs. The aforesaid judgment of the Supreme Court is in conformity with the Samskrit sloka in Shikshavalli of Taittiriyopanishad which reads:-
Unfortunately, despite the aforesaid historic judgment of the Supreme Court, the UPA Government did not implement the aforesaid wholesome recommendations.
Now that a stable nationalist government under the dynamic leadership of Narendra Modi has come to power with absolute majority, those recommendations should be implemented and the most important part in our National Education which Swami Vivekananda called “Man making, character building education” which is also the recommendation of SB Chavan Committee and upheld by the Supreme Court of India, which was omitted, should be included and all necessary steps should be taken without any delay as that is an urgent national necessity.
M Rama Jois (The writer is former Member of Parliament and former Governor of Jharkhand and Bihar)