BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Exams have begun. The end of an academic year is nearing, the first one after the pandemic. Children have been back at school after a break of two years, and the new beginning has been good.
The new academic year began with the Government of Goa announcing its intention of implementing the National Education Policy (NEP), which has not been clearly understood by many in the field of education.
Whatever NEP is, the truth is that education is not just about having a better understanding of the world around us, but about who we are, what we are capable of and how we go about organising our lives with others around us in mind.
Education is about encompassing essential virtues of the time we were born in. Education is about enhancing one’s capabilities which will later filter down to the people at large.
Many monsoons back, children were educated under trees and near rivers with flora and fauna around aiding the teachers of the day by adding a splash of colour.
A child in the sixties began his education by helping his mother or nanny to grow vegetables, bring back dry wood from the forest or walk to the river to wash clothes.
Then the child learnt the value of family life, fraternal sharing, giving, and, most importantly, the value of being content with one’s abilities. That was the time when education began with learning to value oneself and being self-aware.
If we are what we are today, it is because of what education was then. Simply put, education was entwined with nature. This led to the understanding of the natural evolution of human life. And so when death came, it was accepted naturally. There was no fight to stave off death.
Time always brings change – change that cannot be predicted. Change can be effected by good or bad choices, which depends entirely on the individual or individuals concerned and the circumstances around them. Education most certainly has a role to play in these choices.
Education, in many ways, as in the past, begins at home and ends at home. Our educational institutions are intermediaries or windows that allow us to grow into well-rounded individuals and solid citizens.
During the pandemic, a time when human contact, which is an essential part of the social element of education, was at its minimal, the worst to suffer were the children.
With schools shut, online education started. But online education does not require human interaction in close proximity which is foundational for humans.
Schooling involves a range of social interactions: chatting with friends on the way and in school, picking ripe fruits from trees, handling animals on the way and even sharing dreams before the school bell rings.
Although teachers did their best despite being new to this form of education, it was apparent to all that online education is not and can never be a substitute for the personal feel of interacting with one’s peers and teachers in a physical educational institution.
It is one year now that children have gone to school, without being interrupted by the dark shadow of the pandemic. In a few days, exams will be over, and the holidays will start. Life will at last appear to have come back to some normalcy.