Our Education System Is So Messed Up, We Might As Well Shut Down All Schools

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”– Nelson Mandela.

Many of us would concur with this statement. Education is the shining beacon which paves the path to one’s glory and most importantly, one’s stomach. While a few of us are deciding between Harvard and Yale to fulfil the dream of becoming the next Sundar Pichai, a few of us sweat it out to procure a seat in the IITs which will set one up for life. There are others who fret about the lack of education that is still rampant throughout the country, and we wander around the country seeking to ‘enlighten’ the illiterate.

It is a noble cause, and I am very happy at the initiatives being taken to promote literacy. Whether these measures are any effective or not, remains a subject for another debate. The question is, isn’t it necessary to look into our educational system before proceeding to enrol others in it?

Now, many eyes would roll. Oh, there she is, another one to rant about the infamous Indian Education System. Well, I am not the first one to fiercely launch into a lengthy tirade on the idiosyncrasies and pitfalls of the system and nor will I be the last. However, this is not even about that.

It is not the grades, marks, ranks, exams or so. It is high time the spotlight be turned on to that which has been shrouded in the dark for too long. The quality of education. Are we imparting wisdom to the younger generation? Are we teaching them to be responsible and kind denizens? Every institute proclaims that they aim to produce socially, ethically, morally responsible citizens who would contribute to the betterment of the society. But, judging by what is happening today, we seem quite far away from civilisation.

Young kids being murdered inside washrooms, juvenile crimes, terrible incidents which adorn the front page of the newspapers and social media are enough to give even the stone-hearted sleepless nights. On a less violent note, “middle class” people are not entitled to fine dining, and we fight with our neighbours for river water.

Is this what we have reduced to? Setting buses aflame for something that can be sorted by debate within the four walls of a room? Or keep reminding of the socio-economic hierarchy and the thick bold line between the classes that one should never cross?

Under the banner of “freedom of expression”, it is uncommon not to see someone getting trolled for their words, actions or external appearances. There is not a single person who is spared the brunt of self-proclaimed critiques. I shudder to think that we are setting such a horrendous example to the next generation.  This is definitely not being broad-minded, as our society so proudly claims that we are on the path of. Rather, it is a refined manifestation of a clash of wills and jealousy which could reach egregious proportions, in comparison to the raw, fierce battles between warring kingdoms in the yesteryears.

Is this what we were taught? Is this what we are going to teach this generation?  We might as well shut down our schools. It is precisely this attitude – education as merely a gateway for joining the higher ranks of the economy and social status- which gives one the ultimate power to contribute (read: dominate) to the society, which has been one big factor to this sorry state of affairs.

I am not going to deny that education does do that, but it does a lot more too. Sitting through several years of “education ” in pursuit of fancy degrees doesn’t mean one is educated. That is merely being literate.

Speaking of corruption and other social evils, it is no longer the “uneducated morons” who indulge in such activities. Ragging and harassment of students resulting in their deaths, heinous incidents of raping of infants (how worse can this get?!) and gruesome murders splashing the front pages of the newspapers every other day. How many of the preparators are uneducated?

The sceptic would argue that they wouldn’t have received “proper” education. What sort of an education is that which doesn’t teach its students to respect human life and dignity? How can someone be cultured if they do not know how to be human?

Fine, forget the big picture. Look at our world. What happens within the walls of this microcosm? Ego, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, inferiority complex, fear, competitiveness – all evils of Pandora box. Politics in schools, colleges, workplaces – all microcosms of education – which breeds desperation don’t seem like the type of places of enlightenment and creativity.

Our ideas of education are warped. Twisted. We focus on coming first. Carving a niche by being on the top rung – it doesn’t matter how many people are pushed down in the process. It is amazing to see the lengths that people can go to make you feel an absolute loser once they get the slightest hint that you are on the right track. Friends turn enemies, and the whole world around you is keen on bringing you down.

Is this what education had taught us? Competition is good. “Healthy” competition is a means of bringing the best out of us. However, we, the hot-headed generation, pride ourselves in living our lives in the extreme- win by hook or crook.

If this is what education has taught us, it is already too late to retrospect. We are witnessing evolution in reverse gear. From savages to humans, we are slowly losing that what identified us as humans – humanity, emotions, compassion. If years of “excellent education” has taught us to become dysfunctional humans, we don’t have the right to look down at the illiterate at all.

It is we who are the ill-literate.

Echoing Aristotle’s words, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

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