From the previous issue
Making Education: The Policy Requirements
Besides the argument of the theory of educational jurisdiction of the notional-nation as above, education has to be devised at the level of individuals, as individuals are the ones in whom education creates change. The change is nothing but enabling an individual to think, and as a result make him or her conscious (self awareness), so that the learned individual would reflect and make right judgement. This does two things; one, to make the individual to be self-conscious, and two, to enable him/her to produce/learn truth (knowledge). However, educationists and policy makers so far have been and even today are pursuing the agenda of education under the illusion that tweaking cognition would improve consciousness, and accordingly they suggested recommendations on curricular and learning aspects, whereas neuro scientists have long back proved that consciousness is independent of cognition, as without cortex, which was so far believed to be the centre of consciousness, individuals could be conscious. This warrants a relook in the way in which individuals are involved in the educational process including teaching, learning, pedagogies, and curriculum, which the policies so far never addressed. But, is consciousness purely innate and independent of the objective world or society? The philosophies evolutionarily, one after the other, including those of Descart, Kant, Hegel and Dewey have consequentially resulted in the idea that consciousness constitutes the outside world and the outside world constitutes the consciousness. This idea concurs with the latest neuro science and quantum mechanics that the mind is independent of material brain. Consciousness is a product of mindfulness which is largely objective in nature and is a journey through experience in the entire realm of truth of mind. As objective experience (and consequent reasoning) happens in a social setting in the realm of society, the society’s structure and its ability to allow all social units (groups or individuals) to freely exercise their ‘free-will’ will only enable the individual units to be conscious. For this to happen, the fore most character of the society should be ‘democracy and equality’, as this character only helps individual social units to share experience among them and reflect on otherness so that a perpetual movement in self consciousness becomes possible. This way the knowledge observed is universal and becomes a collective representation of the consciousness of the total society, which eventually becomes valid to the whole society. This means this resultant consciousness will get social validity and thus the social unit responsible for that consciousness will be empowered. This is one way of emancipating the socially oppressed units from the clutches of social order. Constructing such an educational framework that enables the learners to overcome the impediments of undemocratic and unequal social system over a period of time would empower those that belong to the indignant social units and thus pave the way to annihilate caste system. The education policy should be devised in such a way that this minute function of human consciousness is infused in all facets of educational endeavours if education is to yield its desirable objectives. But the aforesaid vital character is absent in the Indian society, and it is largely undemocratic and unequal, which is what education should resist and struggle against. In this compelling situation, what is staggering is how education can best be reasonably dealt with when the society has a conflicting social structure whose dynamics is diametrically opposite to the idea of education. The education policy should answer this question by finding the ways and means to enhance the educational process, at least, by tweaking it to take cognizance of the social structure and translate it to have the necessary conditions and mechanism to blindly aggregate the human experience, without any exclusions and segregations in favour of any one elite community, and make that experience as subject matters of studies and instructions for all walks of life without any discrimination. An ideal society that promotes education will have adequate space and opportunity for individual units (individuals or groups) of the society to freely exchange or share the ideas, experience, problems, beliefs, and values and will allow education to play its original role that aggregate, without segregation, those experiences collectively in which the widest groups share and transmit them to the learner. More the free flow of experiences happens among the social units higher will be the educative capacity of the society. The ‘educative capacity of the society’ means the society’s capacity to raise above the social impediments and enable it to function optimally and fulfill its needs continually through development of knowledge – the indigenous knowledge – by having a social structure, system and bondage that improve exchange of ideas, information, experience and culture among all different segments/units of the society. Ensuring this must be the goal of the education policy. This will also ensure protection and propagation of the indigenous knowledge amidst the turbulent wave of global knowledge. While there is no such demarcation between global and indigenous knowledge, and knowledge means only universal, the issue of indigenousness comes into existence as the experience (knowledge) of the socially deprived or depressed units hardly receives social validity, without which it cannot become part of the collective representation of the consciousness of the total society. On the other hand, indigenous knowledge does not mean the so called ancient knowledge of the school of thoughts of the specially cultivated mass that had the privilege to say so. It is but the consciousness achieved by the indigenous social units through reasoning in response to their social demands and different environmental encounters, which collectively is called ‘knowledge’. If education fails to cultivate this knowledge in its educational endeavours then it will lose its sight in the resultant human potential created by education. Cultivating such knowledge naturally implies that education simultaneously cultivates all forms of knowledge including relevant culture, values, language, natural resources, environment, and other eco systems. The above argument shows that individuals and society are inseparable in the function of education; both are essential and contributory to each other in making education workable, but the other agents like the nation-state, market forces and educational institutions are only facilitators, which the policy makers and law makers should understand. This basic phenomenon of education is what Indian education ought to inherit in every aspects of its implementation and thus the Education Policy ought to be framed accordingly. Whereas, in 70 years, the Indian polices have tried to make education serve the purposes of the aforesaid agents – governments wanted education to create a loyal citizenry, market forces wanted education to satisfy its demand of its narrowly skilled manpower, and those in the higher level of the social order wanted education to maintain their social status quo and authority.
Modern consumerism as inculcated by the patronage of the triangulated collusion between agencies like the World Trade Organisation, nation-state and neoliberal market forces has become a great cause of concern in the function of education. It largely has disregarded the ‘free-will’ of both the individuals and society which are the subjects in any educational endeavours. It has shifted the focus of education from people to market and from knowledge to material. It took education as a mechanism to dispose individuals in the market eco system by grooming them as job seekers or entrepreneurs as opposed to the widest spectrum of education as discussed above. The individuals need not require disposal as they are not commodities to dispose. As a result, new forms of educational outcomes like ‘employability’ was invented in the higher education sector, which grossly have violated the concept of education. Because the learners are narrowly groomed with a set of skills desired by the markets, which is not education. Policies of the past and present have emphasized the same and suggested several recommendations to both achieve the requirements of the market and diffuse the individuals in the market. Several recommendations for improving employability and vocationalisation are different forms of market orientation of education. Beyond this, descent based vocationalisation is another form of discrimination inculcated by these policies. No doubt that the human capital should be continually groomed per the needs of the industry and society, but education should be blind in that grooming and should not be selective and descent based.
While disruptions like the Indian socio economic conditions, modern consumerism and neoliberal markets have had a great influence so far in the human reasoning and knowledge creation, major technological interventions like Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Machine Learning, Cyber Physical system and Quantum Computing, on their part, have already paved a way to disrupt the human intelligence and knowledge propagation in favour of some vested forces. It would further make education undemocratic which has been already undemocratic in impating, handling and/or producing knowledge. As education has a greater role to cultivate the positive role of these disruptive technologies, while simultaneously deterring the negative disruptions, these technologies might bring in knowledge evolution and socio economic transformation. Recent Indian policies have never foreseen this dimension but knowingly or unknowingly kept silent on this. Especially, laws of modern physics and quantum mechanics have started yielding technologies like quantum computing, quantum teleportation and quantum information channel which are expected to interfere largely into human intelligence, which might in turn result in a pattern change in the life style and societal discourse. Metaphysical expositions and their spiritual implications have been largely nullified and science has started answering almost all questions which were thought beyond human intelligence. Therefore, the matter of ethics and value are no longer to be discerned within the ambit of spirituality and religion but can be traced within the known science and human consciousness. This is what education should facilitate; it should be made to operate within the known horizon of science and human consciousness, it shall not go beyond this. The policy initiatives shall reflect this if it is to really alleviate millennia old social and economic problems facing the Indian society and make the human potential and human capital synchronized in the twenty first century and beyond.
The foregoing discussions espoused some of the major themes and philosophies upon which the education policy of Tamil Nadu shall be built so that it will make education constructive, productive and reflective of the society. It seeks, in a larger context, a multitude of interventions in and solutions for various aspects of education. Tamil Nadu, as a notional-nation, representing its unique recognisable society, needs an exclusive education policy considering the demand for new knowledge and skills caused by both the current and future state of affairs of the society and its social order, social transformation, economic order, technological disruptions, environmental changes and new economic activities that are expected to shape the twenty first century and beyond.