Fr Carlos Luis SAC
It was very heartening that Justice Mahesh Sonak while delivering the valedictory speech at the First Goa State Level Moot Court Competition at Govind Ramnath Kare College of Law stated that the purpose of education was not to fill an empty mind but to replace it with an open one, perhaps quoting Malcolm S Forbes. An ‘open mind’ means the willingness to be ready to learn and know every perspective about what one is curious about. And the NEP 2019 is the way forward.
We were so lost in a certain format of education, but the new policy shows us how teaching can be inclusive. The policy has a strategy in place to include SCs, STs, OBCs, women, transgender and other marginalised communities.
But the quandary has always been, how is the policy going to be executed? Three issues can be foreseen. Firstly, the necessity to spot and empower the marginalized sections of the community. They should be made aware of the opportunities and encouraged to come forward to avail of them.
Secondly, the infrastructure that is currently in place would not suffice for the huge turnout that we will see in the years to come. Thus, institutions considering education important should be open-minded to a proactive strengthening of infrastructure as well as the teaching fraternity.
Thirdly, the teaching fraternity will be overloaded with varied subjects as well as documentation for which utmost care will be needed. For an open mind to be formed and inclusion to happen at various levels in education there is a dire need to form Socio-Economic Disadvantaged Groups (SEDG). These groups in turn will help bring to the forefront the requirements of these communities and aim at fulfilling them systematically.
There needs to be an identification of Special Education Zones (SEZ) so that the government can focus on these zones and provide for an equitable educational system. Thankfully the NEP 2019 speaks of creative pedagogies which will be beneficial not just to the privileged but also to others. The inclusion of varied out-of-the-box pedagogies will give students, who cannot afford formal education, a chance to opt for distance or correspondence learning.
The one area that our state and the country at large needs to work on is the mission of gender and social equity. And this will not just happen with the inclusive language that is being enforced but it will happen when the government seriously embarks on being open-minded. Measures will have to be taken not just to create an inclusive or equitable syllabus to discuss in the schools and institutions but to act responsibly to create awareness in its citizens to be open-minded. This could be best done with the help of the entertainment industry which has a drastic influence on a larger audience.
Then, what is taught in schools or institutions will become believable for the students to practice and make a change in the world that they live in. Education should undoubtedly create open minds but it creates rigid and hard-to-crack mentalities at times.
Education, thus, will be the only medicine that will solve the conundrum of justice and other issues arising from our religious differences, social standing, and language chauvinism. Therefore, education that creates open minds is important given the current day and time.
(The writer is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine) and currently the Mission Secretary of the ABVM Province, Bangalore. He comments on Literature and Films that mirror life)