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Education is More than just number of Schools

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education and language

By Dr. Kallol Guha

education and language

Future of a community or a nation, to a large extent, is determined by how their educational institutions are run. It cannot be ascertained by the number or type of buildings and infrastructure but by developing the quality of human resources and conditioning them to become a tool for meaningful national development. Educational institutions ultimately decide the quality and sustainability of growth and development of a given nation. No special inquiry is needed to see that during the middle ages all-round glory of ancient India and its share of 25-30% of world GDP must have been derived from the quality of training in the universities like Somapura and Munshigunj Vihar of Bengal, Odantapuri of Magadh, Pushpagiri of Kalinga, Valabhi of Gujrat, Vikramashila of Bihar, to say nothing about Nalanda and Takshashila and numerous others. By 1947, India’s share of world GDP came down to less than 1% . The figure has not changed much since then, though Macaulay type education which replaced indigenous education in vernacular medium-specially designed to breed (clone) Englishmen through English-based education, is spreading rapidly and its acceptability is being consolidated by fierce and widespread marketing.

What is the worth of education system(s) that does not facilitate in-depth understanding of one’s ancestral contribution to knowledge and civilization and does not make the nation aware of the greatness, if any, of its own heritage? Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore stated that Shiksha ko dohan karna nahin, vahan karna chahiye’. It is tempting to speculate whether widespread Macaulay type education explains why during the last 65 years India has not made any contribution that is remotely comparable to that of the ancient saints?

112 crore Indians who are unable to communicate in English Language are, for all practical purposes, excluded from the scope of higher technical education and consequent decent living. Unnoticed amid these indigenous Indians, undoubtedly, there are traits of great soldiers and athletes, brilliant professionals and administrators, genius scholars, performers etc., but their talent could never find expression through use of their own languages. Native languages are now being reduced and demeaned as the language of backward and underdeveloped masses whereas English is symbolized as the language of superiority and aristocracy. Instead of being concerned about such wastage of human resource, the prevalent system has developed numerous arguments to justify blatant discrimination of regional and national languages alike.

english language vs native langauge

Let it be emphasized that a language may flourish and develop when linked to the means of livelihood. Single most dominant factor for widespread influence of English is that it has been made a key toward earning a decent living. De-linking of regional and national languages from the means of livelihood is being made acceptable through highly sophisticated and subtle marketing to favor use of the English language, at the expense of indigenous languages. Any topic pertaining to linkage of indigenous languages to the means of livelihood is instantly interpreted as plot against English.

State and central administration are neither willing nor honest in their intention of allowing masses to earn a decent living by using local languages. Hence common people, in order to restore the disrupted link between language and means of livelihood may consider taking two useful measures:

First: Mobilize Public Opinion. Initiate a campaign- at first- through social media- propagating the viewpoint that language is not just a means of communication but is linked to the sense of both self- and national respect. Perception of pride and identity-crisis are linked to language. Issue of culture and heritage is linked to language. Since higher technical knowledge is best absorbed through native language, material and spiritual development at individual and national level is linked to language. One of the most effective measures a victor takes against the vanquished to subjugate is to de-link the masses from their native land by not allowing to make a living in their native language. A task accomplished through specially designed education as it is the case with India.

Second: Higher Technical Education in Vernacular. Public opinion has to be mobilized to compel and/or persuade government and private enterprises to employ graduates of vernacular medium schools by allowing tax deductions. Government and private initiatives must be mobilized through public opinion to install higher technical education in vernacular medium.

Basically, mobilization of public opinion in favor of opening up educational and economic opportunities to all those who are from vernacular medium is the first initial step towards a long and arduous task.

The author is a Chicago-based entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Image/s Credit: Sean MacEntee

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West Bengal Topper’s name Archisman Panigrahi Appears in Jadavpur University Merit List without Applying

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Jadavpur University
West Bengal Class 12 topper Archisman Panigrahi tops the Jadavpur University merit list without applying to the varsity. Wikimedia

Kolkata, July 14, 2017: West Bengal Class 12 topper Archisman Panigrahi is in a unique predicament, his name tops the Jadavpur University merit list in four subjects without him ever applying to the varsity.

“I never applied to Jadavpur University but I came to know through a friend that my name figured in the top in the merit list for physics, chemistry, geology, and mathematics. The marks and birthdate were not mine,” the student said.

He said he has informed the varsity authorities.

“I have written to the dean highlighting that I had not applied and I can see my name on the top,” he said.

According to varsity vice chancellor Suranjan Das the matter will be taken up with the cyber crime department of the police. (IANS)


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Indian Students from Dehradun University win Global aerospace competition CanSat in Texas, US

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Indian Students, Dehradun University
Indian Students from Dehradun University win Global aerospace competition CanSat in Texas, US (Representative Image). Pixabay

Dehradun, June 28, 2017: Students from University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) here have left behind 39 teams from across the world by winning the first position at the global aerospace competition CanSat held in Texas, US, this year.

The 23-member multi-domain team included students of Aerospace Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Computer Science Engineering, Material Science Engineering, Instrumentation and Control Engineering and design studies.

The winning team had worked under the guidance of their professors — Ugur Guven and Zozimus Labana.

“UPES students winning CanSat parallels the recent successes of the Indian space programme and prepares students for the role they will have to play when they eventually join the booming aerospace sector,” Guven said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Organised by American Astronautical Society (AAS) and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), CanSat is an annual design-build-fly competition with space related themes.

ALSO READ: Muslim Women in India Can Become Change Agents With Education

It tests students’ analytical, creative, decision making, problem solving and collaborative skills besides their domain knowledge and expertise.

It also calls for the utilisation of unique skills from different disciplines, which help to augment the multi-disciplinal skills of the contestants.

CanSat 2017 saw participation of institutions like Princeton University, University of Manchester, University of Alabama, VIT University and National Aviation Academy. (IANS)

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Skip English, focus on Indigenous Languages for India’s Development

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By Harshmeet Singh

“A common perception in India is that Indians need English to succeed. But is it the other way around in reality?”

The sky high vision and aim of becoming a world power that we carry with respect to our nation, are based on an extremely shaky education system which considers mimicking western theories the best way to impart knowledge.

With such a rich culture which is renowned worldwide, you would imagine that Indian students of social studies and humanities would carry with them enviable knowledge of Indian traditions, language and vedic sciences. But unfortunately, all our education system offers to them is western ideas and western thoughts.

Our Anglophonic education system is majorly responsible for a continuing colonized mindset that regards English as a mark of superiority. As the African and Asian nations tread the path of development, their share in the global GDP will see a surge in the coming decades. The economic influence of the English-speaking nations is set to dip in the near future.

With Spanish giving a tough competition to English in the US, English is looking for an emerging economic power that would save its status as the global language. In order to rope in Indian audience and viewers, a number of US and UK news channels have now started covering news from the Indian perspective.

India adopted a three-language for its education system in 1960s, when the Indian economy looked up to US and UK. With English taking the center-stage in this policy, the regional languages started losing ground. Despite vast changes in the economy and India’s global standing, we never thought of re-visiting our language policy for education to save our indigenous languages.

English

Some of the most renowned scientists in the world have taken birth in non-English speaking nations, thereby ruling out the perception that English is necessary for professional success in the field of Science and Mathematics. Though knowledge of English, like any other language, is certainly a handy skill to have, it is a myth that English is ‘necessary’ for professional success.

There are innumerable examples to break this myth. The onus of breaking this myth for the Indian youth lies with the Government which needs to ensure that there are ample employment opportunities for those who chose to give English a miss, and rather concentrated on other skills.

The first step in this regard would be ensuring that there is high quality educational material in indigenous languages for the students at all levels. The UGC initiated Bharatvani project is a major step in this regard. Proposed to be developed as the largest language portal in the world, the Bharatvani project aims at delivering knowledge in almost all Indian languages, with the help of multimedia formats. It plans to aggregate multimedia content from the government, writers and other non-governmental organizations and put it on a common platform. UGC also plans to rope in publication houses and different universities to make it a success.