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Is Education Helping Create Responsible Citizens Or Has It Just Become A Business?

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Has Contemporary Education Wandered Away From Its Course?

Imparting education in a systematic way was started in Ancient Greece around 2400 years ago. Philosopher Plato is credited as being the first person who proposed a methodical approach towards scholastic learning. He categorised education into three parts: primary education, medium education and, higher education. It was Plato who emphasised and supported the cause of educating women. According to Plato, who was famously taunted for being a braggart and a chaotic man, women play an equal role as men in nation-building. In his literary prose Republic, Plato puts forth his policy on education. Though his policy was beyond his time, it had one major shortcoming – it was against education for people belonging to the manufacturing sector, such as artisans, farmers, labourers, etc., for which he is heavily criticised.

It is believed that contemporary education began from the institute which Plato opened near Athens. According to Plato’s treatise on education, the main motive of education is creating superlative citizens. He believed that disseminating education is the role of the ruling class. He deemed that it was education which could groom able citizens and philosopher kings. He believed that the resolution of global issues and problems required philosopher kings. According to him, there would be no end to any worldwide concerns as long as philosopher-kings are absent. Accountancy, math, geography, history, civics and science were some of the main subjects taught in his academy. Sports were also an integral part of his educational curriculum. Education was passed on to prepare children with good character, physical and cognitive development.

Where is that education system today, which had its roots in building physical fitness, cognitive development, and moral character? While a lot of good has happened to the education sector, it has quickly evolved to become big business. The intent of education is no longer producing only good citizens.

We, as a society, are moving in a direction, where education is being used to generate consumerists. Today, the education sector is seeing the prioritisation of certain choices, in an attempt to produce such citizens who can fulfil the materialistic needs. The major concern with contemporary education is that acquiring it, does not result in the lessening of internal corruption, but inner conflict and vice only rise.

In my opinion, a substantial portion of the educated class regards the immoral ways of earning money as their achievement. From my observations, surgeons performing surgeries when the ailment can be remedied without it have become commonplace occurrences. ‘Gentlemen’ who deceive people to make money have now become respectful. More number of cases of feticide are reported in areas with higher literacy rates. Is modern-day education really fulfilling its purpose?

According to me, religion, politics, etiquette, and education are the four pillars that are necessary for the creation of an ideal society; market effects come afterwards. The market operates these in various possible ways. In this era of consumerism, a human is not regarded as a human but a genus of the market. In the field of education, marketplace policies are being put forward with the aim of generating maximum possible income.

Our education is not concerned with the basic problems of mankind. Our real problems are not being addressed. Our issues are apples and we are being told about oranges. In this situation, which is marred with an air of vagueness, the domain of the duties of a teacher has become very vast.

What Is The Role Of Teachers?

Today, it is the need of the hour that the teachers must come forward and play the role of leaders in society. The teacher must stay associated with good, unbiased and unprejudiced books for his intellectual development. The teacher ought to play a role like that of Dyuyshen of the Russian novel The First Teacher, written by Chinghiz Aitmatov. Earlier, pupils used to learn from their surroundings and society; today, the case is different. They have other various sources of learning. Mobile and internet have changed the scenario. Today’s kids are very different from those born thirty years ago. Technological advances have enlarged the scope of a teacher’s function.

The need of the hour is that education must strengthen a student on physical, mental, emotional, and financial accounts. His/her personality should be developed. The right use of money and sources has become a major issue for the society; curriculums related to such matters must be developed.

In my opinion, unnecessary and jittery topics which are not related to the betterment of mankind should be removed from syllabi. Another point of concern, upon which no work has yet been done, is that children must be made curious and eager learners for them to be educated in the true sense. Curriculums must be reformulated in such a manner that they inculcate in the mind of students the eagerness to learn more. It is time that the focus is shifted from studying to learning.

Matters such as superstitions are a menace for the society as they keep the human mind in their vicious grasp. Our books must be filled with chapters of scientific and technological themes. The young minds must be taught that mobile, internet, and TV are contributions of science to the humankind but using these as a medium to sell miraculous stones is superstition. Schools and colleges must have syllabi that cater to the interests of the students. For example, if some student excels at making paintings, then he must be given some relaxation from the burden of other subjects, and he must be provided with facilities to hone his craft.

Education must be provided by the government and must be same for each child, irrespective of his social and financial standing. Educational institutions must be immediately prevented from turning into political battlegrounds. Education should be about learning, but unfortunately, it has been limited to obtaining a certificate. There is no doubt that our society is more literate now, but we have lost the essence of life. Today, it is needful that every student must understand contemporary concerns. It would be possible only if the unnecessary burden in the syllabi is replaced with curriculums that suit the modern circumstances.

Nitish Kapur

नितिष कपूर 

ਨਿਤਿਸ਼ ਕਪੂਰ 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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