Monthly Archives: August 2017

India’s Move to Right to Education

It was Saturday afternoon; the world seemed to be on vacation but me, as I was busy serving guests at a lunch party at my masters’ residence. Chatting and laughing was loud enough to be heard in every nook and corner of the house. But those were of least concern to me, because I had to respond to every single call for any requirement at the very word of the guests or the master in particular. It was 2009, and I was just seven, wearing a sweater and a half pant, watching a bunch of people boasting about the achievements of their wards and trying to prove ones child better than the other. When suddenly, an old man read from a magazine that the government was to pass a new act namely, Right to Education Act. But to me those routine talks about the household work made more sense than this new coming up topic, because neither I could read or understand there high-level conversation, which had diverted there talks from their children, on top of that I didn’t even understand, what the word ‘right’ meant. That elderly fellow said something like…

History of the Act:

The Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2003 was the first attempt of the Central government to draft a comprehensive legislation on education after the 86th Constitutional Amendment that made education a fundamental right. The Bill was an excellent example of bureaucratic empowerment, creating up to 6 levels of various authorities to ensure the provision of free and compulsory education. Furthermore, the reservation of up to 25% of the private school seats for the economically backward students to be selected by these authorities ensured that the Bill was a throwback to the old licence-permit-raj regime. Following widespread criticism, the Bill was discarded.

The Right to Education Bill 2005 is the second attempt by the Central government to set the education system right. Some of the important provisions of the Bill:

• Promises free and compulsory education of equitable quality up to the elementary level to all children in the age group of 6 to 14.
• Mandates unaided private schools to reserve up to 25 percent of the seats for students from weaker sections. The schools will be reimbursed by the lower of the actual school fee or per student expenditure in the government school. The aided schools will reserve “at least such proportion of their admitted children as its annual recurring aid bears to its annual recurring expenses subject to a minimum of 25 per cent.”
• Requires all remaining students to be accommodated by opening new government schools and within three years of the passage all students to have a school to go within their own neighbourhood.
• Forms School Management Committees (SMCs) comprising parents and teachers for state schools and aided schools. The SMCs will own the assets of the school, manage the accounts, and pay salaries.
• Establishes a National Commission for Elementary Education to monitor the implementation of the Bill, State Regulatory Authorities to address grievances under the Bill, and several ‘competent authorities,’ ‘local authorities,’ and ’empowered authorities’ to perform a vast number of regulatory functions and meet out punishment to defaulters.
• Assigns all state school teachers to particular schools from which they will never be transferred-creates a school-based teacher cadre.

The finance committee and planning commission rejected the Bill citing the lack of funds and a Model bill was sent to states for the making necessary arrangements.

Educational Leadership in the 21st Century

Education plays a unique role right from the birth of humanity in its onward journey. In the background of the emerging global country of 21st century, education has incomparably challenging roles to play. The ‘global family’ becomes a close -knit community, minimizing and eliminating geographic, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and all other barriers and the role of education has to undergo a conspicuous change. At this era of reconstruction and redefining, the very concept of education has to be reconstructed, redefined and modified assimilating the good elements of the past and discarding the bad ones. In fact, the basic concept of education remains intact in its mission but pedagogy and methodology have to be reviewed. That is what T.S Eliot said, “It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time — for we are bound by that — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time.”The educational leadership in this century is endowed with the noble role of managing these changes in an effective and appropriate manner.

The most important challenge of education is to keep pace with the knowledge society. The knowledge and information evolve, develop and are acquired at an alarming speed. The educational leadership has to help the institution encompass the exploding growth of knowledge lest it would remain obsolete. This emphasizes the education being technologically up to date and scientifically exploring. This paradigm shift is due to the giant leaps in communication and information technology that can be manipulated as an asset rather than a challenge. Thus, the real concern in education today lies in the effective management of this complex phenomenon. Therefore, the academicians need to be dynamically ultra paced in the pedagogic process.

The highest edge of competition is the talisman of 21st century. This quest for excellence prioritises the need for competitiveness in all fields. The quiescent knowledge imparted through conventional methods may leave the principal and the agent in the education far behind the signs of the time. The product of an alma mater needs to be equipped with the best to face the world ahead of it. Unless the institution succeeds in this noble mission, it will merely be added up as just one among the others in the list of the so-called millions of schools. Thus, leading innovation in education ensuring uncompromising quality in the minutest of details and at the same time being effective, the educational leadership makes an institution a pace-setting one.

An effective education is life education. Advancing one’s knowledge and imbibing competence become worthwhile only when it contributes to the emotional intelligence and quality of life of the individual. John Dewey defines,” Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”. 21st century has the biggest chaos in its values and priorities. Along with achieving professional growth in life, the overall development of the individual needs a special stress. Education should equip an individual to re-define and re-discover the culture and values for oneself. How an individual takes decisions and allots priorities depend on how well the education has expanded his/her horizons. To dedicate oneself to the service of the nation and his/her fellowmen, one needs to be reinforced by the quality of education he/she receives. The question is whether the modern education leads a learner forward along a path where he is enriched academically, culturally, emotionally, physically and spiritually or not. “The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Psychology of Education

On the need for an individualistic educational psychology emphasizing on the central role of the learner

Education and psychology are related in more than just one way and the psychology of education could be related to educational principles in psychology or how education as a discipline is taught within psychology as a subject and how these two disciplines merge. This is primarily the focus of educational psychology which studies how human learning occurs, what ways of teaching are most effective, what different methods should be used to teach gifted or disabled children and how principles of psychology could help in the study of schools as social systems.

Psychological education would be completely focused on learning methods as structured or imparted according to psychological and individual needs of the students. Education would differ according to culture, values, attitudes, social systems, mindset and all these factors are important in the study of education in psychology.

Educational psychology is the application of psychological objectives within educational systems and psychological education as I distinguish here is application of educational objectives in psychological processes. The first focus of using psychology in education is more general and the second approach of using education in psychology is more individualistic. However as far as present study of educational approach to psychology is concerned, there is no difference between individualistic educational psychology and general educational psychology and all interrelationships between psychology and education are considered within the broad discipline of educational psychology.

However a distinction between the more general educational psychology and more specific psychological or individualistic education could help in understanding the nuances of individualistic study and give a subjective dimension to the study of psychology in education. This could also help in making learning systems more student based and according to the needs of culture, society, individual or personal factors. This sort of study with a focus on personal/psychological aspects of learning is not just about social objectives and objectives within educational systems but also about personal goals and objectives and the psychological processes involved in learning. There has to be a clearer demarcation between education in psychology as a general study and individualistic education in psychology as a more specific and subjective discipline.

As of now educational psychology encompasses a wide range of issues and topics including the use of technology and its relation to psychology, learning techniques and instructional design. It also considers the social, cognitive, behavioural dimensions of learning but it would be necessary to make education more personal and individualistic through a special branch with a psychological focus on education so that individual needs are considered. There could be two ways in which this branch of knowledge could evolve – either by strengthening psychological education or individualistic approach to the psychology of education or by having two distinct branches of general educational psychology and individualistic educational psychology.

As in client centered approach to psychology, a psychology of education should also include further research that would highlight the need for individualistic dimensions in learning. Learning psychology is the use of psychological theories for example that of Jean Piaget and Kohler in the study of learning techniques, especially among children. I have already discussed Piaget but briefly Piaget’s theory higlights different stages of learning in children and Kohler suggested that learning occurs by sudden comprehension or understanding, however I will not go further into learning theories here. Whereas the focus of educational psychology is on learning techniques per se and the role of the learner is considered only secondary, a branch of individualistic psychology in education could help in emphasizing the role of the learner considering not just their disabilities or giftedness but also their personality patterns. This focus on personality patterns brings out the central role of understanding psychology in educational systems.

Educational psychology studies both the personal approaches to education as in giftedness, disability, learning theories applied to children and adults, and the more general objective approaches to learning as the role of schools as social or cultural systems.

The psychology of education could include the following branches:

General Educational Psychology

1. Learning Systems – As studied from individualistic learning perspectives and generalized learning perspectives, a discussion of the different theories, practices and systems or techniques of learning is an integral part of educational psychology and especially central to general educational psychology.

2. Social Systems – The use of education in social, cultural and economic systems could be considered within the psychological context and this relates to the role of education in society.

Individualistic Educational Psychology

1. Learning Systems – Learning techniques and systems or methods will have to be in accordance with the needs of the children or adult participants and according to skills of the teachers. Needs vary according to personal traits and abilities and individual needs will have to be considered during the learning process.

2. Social Systems – Individual learning psychology will have to be studied according to specific social and cultural backgrounds of the learners and thus a more subjective study of learning approaches and centralized role of the individual in the learning process considering their social, cultural or intellectual background will have to be considered.

Globalization and Changes in Education

Recent investigations in the study of demographic trends at global level are currently making light on a very controversial aspect, although ignored by global institutions, like O.N.U., U.N.D.P., G 20, same by organizations with attributions in the educational field (as UNESCO, Youth International Authorities and other). The so-called “demographic winter” phenomenon, which reveals the dramatic consequences of the “modern” life, marked by familial and moral decline, by miscarriage, vulgarization and the homosexuality “normalization”, by the poisoning influence of the majority of mass-media and the “Hollywood culture” are inoculating egocentrism, frivolity and irresponsibility. Considering this demographic trend offers a new dimension to the way in which abundance and resource of the world are distributed and also gives a new vision on elementary educational issues.

The globalization of education is reflecting itself in the extension and unification of educational practices, used by all those public or private entities, involved as active social educators. Over time, the public education systems in developed or emerging countries, which promote formal education, are illustrating with consistency the practice of a classical education system. In the field of non-formal education there are used more innovating and diverse methods of education, but unfortunately few of this are oriented upon individual behaviour reshaping in the global context, and they are looking only to proliferate consumerist habits, by preparing youngsters for a successful professional career start. The presence of NGO’s with international coverage and professional training companies has fixed the currently understood “development in education” in comfortable limits. This makes room for a reshape of educational fundamentals and, more obvious, for the ultimate purpose of learning.

Most people think that education should equip them with the proper exploitation instruments so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still other thinks that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end. The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

Socially speacking, the technological revolution, the broaden access to information and the modern lifestyle facilities have made possible the appearance of an irreversible phenomenon in the conflict between generations. In our present times, the children, “sons of globalization” have access to multiple sources of information, with the internet being most of the time an instrument of self-education. The balance is leaning in the favour of the power of informed youth, who become “the teachers”, explaining the new world order to the eldest. This theory takes into consideration the acceleration of technology and the way of our lifestyle, but, beyond its observational character, it does not bring up the discussion on the relevance of educational systems, visible outmoded, which attempts to destroy the moral and statutory principles. The wisdom is transmitted from the old generation to the youth, and not backward.

Therefore we are raising the question regarding the way organisms responsible for educational issues should reconsider the basic fundamentals of this basic activity, which clearly has guided the evolution of our world so far. It isn’t enough for organizations like U.N.E.S.C.O or U.N.D.P. to confront the absence of primary education and the discrimination regarding access to education in underdeveloped countries, to avoid resettling the educational needs inside an inappropriate system. It is necessary to deal with these aspects in proper time, because we consider education the key-element which can slow down the process of planet and people self destruction.