Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 11th, 2020

Forms and status of education in West and East


Forms and status of education in West and East

Education is undoubtedly a process to lead and guide a man well and continuously on the pathway to development. It plays a vital role in human development and the progress and growth of any country depends to a large extent on the quality and number of trained manpower available in different areas. It is an instrument as well as a catalyst of social transformation and is expected to bring qualitative change in man’s perception, attitudes, habits, priority and goals. With the development of society educational system develops and with the development of education society develops. In the sense education and society are inter-dependent. It is a two-way traffic in which while education preserves, transmits and stimulates the wholesome culture, the society also, according to its changed conditions expects the school to review and plan its work as per demands and aspirations of the changing society.
Education as in the West
The word ‘Education’ currently used in English is, in fact, derived from the Latin word Educare, which is further originated from Educere and in its basic spirit, is the manifestation or expression. In further depth it will become apparent that it reveals the inner capability of man that guides him continuously throughout at various levels in all walks of life. In the context, as to the meaning of education even there is no contradiction between the Western and Indian viewpoints. In the West the two great Greek Philosophers-Socrates and Plato remained identical from the meaning and purpose of education. Socrates has categorically said that education is to draw out what are already within while Plato states that it is the acquisition of virtue by child.  In particular, Plato has written extensively on education and his views, despite being relevant in circumstances of his own time have importance more or less, in one way or the other, in current perspective all over the world. His views on education occupied a significant role in his vision of the ideal Republic, wherein the individual could serve the best by being subordinated to a just society. Plato saw the development of an individual in a just society and therefore focussed on his plan of education accordingly. However, after Plato, Aristotle gave new dimension to education in theoretical perspective and stressed that education must not serve any mean or vocational activity as these activities are the functions of slaves. He laid emphasis on obedience and responsibility for those who are designated to rule in times to come. For the purpose he stressed on the curriculum of the Academy to impart the four type of education-basics, related to natural science, physical and humanities. In his view the development of character-building right from the childhood is an important aspects of personality and for the purpose he advised to censor that aspect of education, which could, obstruct the way to character building. Even at the time the dimensions of education could not be confined to Plato and Aristotle and throughout the West thinkers, philosophers, scholars and educationists accorded new horizons from time to time through their ideas, suggestions and works.
Education in the Eastern countries
Likewise, in the East and India in particular, the education systems existed in the Vedic and later Vedic periods were different to one-another. During the time of Tirthankar Mahavira and Siddhartha Gautama the education system seemed to be receiving a new dimension. Again at the time of Chanakya when in the Mauryan Empire the world renowned universities like Takshila, Vikramshila and Nalanda were flourishing, the basic spirit of education was imported liberally to an extent among women and common people by Jainism and Buddhism. Even at the time Kautilya-the great scholar declared education to be the best friend and says further, ‘An educated person is respected everywhere and education beats beauty and the youth. In modern India several contemporary thinkers-Vivekananda, Rabindra Nath Tagore and Sri Aurobindo have mentioned that education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man. Tagore while describing the scope of education includes the high head, free knowledge, truth coming from the depth, tireless striving stretching arms towards perfection….within it. In line Aurobindo has talked about the integral education which must help flourish the very best in a human being-the unique and exquisite, something, which every individual is born to offer to the world. Further Aurobindo has also pointed out that education is meant to bring out the best in man, to develop his potentialities to the maximum, to integrate him with himself – his surroundings, his society, his country and humanity to make him the complete man – the integrated man.
Gandhi’s blue print of education
However, the blue print of educational system given by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, is more relevant as it is job centered, value based and mass-oriented. It provides for manual work along with intellectual exercise a central place in the curriculum at all stages. From the beginning Gandhi realised that education is the pivotal activity on which not only the progress of the individual but moral, economic and political progress of the entire society depends. In his own words, ‘Education must be of a new type for the sake of the creation of a new world.’  Elaborating the idea he added, ‘Our system of (Basic) education leads to the development of the mind, body and soul. The ordinary system cares only for mind.’ His educational theory is “original”, “new”, and epoch making. ‘By education I mean an all round drawing out of the best in child and man’s body, mind and spirit….I would therefore begin the child’s education by teaching it a useful handicraft and enabling it to produce from the movement it begins its training.’ The aim of education in society is determined by the nature of society and man we cherish. Gandhi’s education aims apart from its social and economic bearing, transformation of the individual as well as the whole society. For him education is a means for the upliftment not only of the individual but of the entire society.
The new scheme of education which Gandhiji launched in 1937 and avocated widely in India was named “Basic Education” “Nai Taleem” or “Wardha Scheme.” Inaugurating the Wardha Conference on 2 October 1937 Gandhiji said, ‘I am convinced that the present system of primary education is not only wasteful but positively harmful.’ Basic stands for fundamentals and means that this scheme of education was based on the national culture and civilization of India. Its important features includes : i. Free compulsory education, ii. Craft as the centre of education, iii. Self-supporting aspect of education, iv. Cult of non-violence, Education for democratic values, etc. Thus, basic education as conceived and explained by Mahatma Gandhi is an education which aims at creating a social order free from violence and injustice. Therefore, creative, socially useful and productive work in the schools in which all boys and girls may participate, irrespective of any distinction of caste and class is placed at the core of basic education.

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is Professor and Head of P.G.Department of Political Science, BNMU, West Campus, P.G.Centre, Saharsa-852201- Bihar, India

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