Even 69 years after Independence, India’s literacy rates are flaunted to claim that three-fourth of our countrymen are educated. The fact is that literacy or numeracy hardly amounts to education, is artfully dodged to cater to vested interests benefiting a handful but depriving most.
Education enables human beings to creatively process all kinds of data into knowledge and evolve that further into wisdom for meaningful application to life.
Literacy (the competence for reading and writing) and numeracy (the ability to grasp and work with numbers) are needed for education but on their own, neither constitute nor guarantee education.
Education is a process of individual transformation centered on creative learning, knowledge construction and constant enhancement of talents, skills, aptitudes and attitudes. Education from early childhood to the end of teens must focus entirely on the full development of body, mind and spirit which constitutes unique personality of humans and ensures that their abilities and potential are discovered, nurtured and sustained.
In the majority of Indian Day schools, whether government-run, aided, or privately managed, the six-hour schedule is barely enough even for teaching students subject-related content, all thanks to the competitive world, we live in. Even in most residential schools, education is focused generally on so-called ‘academics’ meaning the ability to memorize syllabus content. Games or extra-curricular activities are included more to utilize the time on hand rather than any commitment to holistic education.
Only a very few elite public schools and International Schools-either Residential or Day Boarding zealously promote the holistic philosophy and pedagogy of schooling. All national and state school boards prescribe on paper, elements to support a holistic school education but none of them has the will or the capacity to enforce them.
The holistic paradigm to educate the entire human personality must compulsorily be adopted in all Indian schools with systems to make them accountable for the same. Our children need to spend a lot more time in schools working on not only ‘academic’ subjects but also activities and pursuits like games and sports to empower physical fitness; different visual and performing arts to engender creativity and innovation, community service projects to develop empathy and relationships. The constant pressures and stress of having to be a consistent ‘achiever’ in ‘academics’ are eliminating all the fun, zest and wonder of childhood and youth. Moreover, it is high time we treat education as instilling a love for learning, discovering your self and world around us.