Dr Karan Singh, an articulate intellect and a Member of Rajya Sabha addressed the Madras Bar Association on the four pillars of education. Excerpts from his speech.
India is a country which respects knowledge. The Upanishads that we learn are a series of question and answers while the Indic civilisation itself was an interacting civilisation. We did a report for UNESCO on the four pillars of learning and fundamental principles for reshaping education.
First Pillar: Learning to Know (Dhyana Yog)
This is about being ready to learn from all sources by asking questions. This is really important as there is a tsunami of information today. One needs to know where to pick the right information. Learning is a lifelong process and life itself is a learning experience.
Second Pilla: Learning to Do (Karma Yog)
If you know a lot and do not know to do, then the knowledge is wasted. This is what is happening today. We have a mis-match between learning to know and learning to do. If a student turns out unemployable, then it is a waste of resource. We need thousands of technical training institutes where people can be trained to do productive jobs..
Third Pillar: Learning to live together (Saha Yog)
This is an important aspect of learning and requires proper value system. It begins with family values and is based on a parent-child relationship as well as man-woman relationship. In current times, we see this being disintegrated with old parents being neglected. The next part is societal values like cleanliness, punctuality etc. To one’s dismay, India is the biggest waste clutter in the world. As much as we demand our rights, we must know that we should perform basic duties of the constitution.
The third aspect is interface values. It is in making people understand that the truth is one but the wise call it in many names. By shunning teaching about religion in schools, we have left it to the hands of extremists. This has led to violence everywhere. The final aspect is environmental values. Our total disrespect to the environment is appalling. We should be proud of our planet and to keep us reminded of the same, every passport must have a stamp of the country as well as the earth to remind us we belong to a single planet and we should maintain it.
Fourth Pillar: Learning to be (Atma Yog)
We need to deep dive into life and not just skim through as life is a learning experience. One needs to develop consciousness before taking a decision. Life is not a meaningless journey from womb to tomb and it should be experienced.
Adding to these thoughts, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Chief Justice of Madras High Court pointed to the disconnect between education and literacy. He pointed out that education cannot be a strait jacket and it needs to be tailor made to individuals.
These four pillars are from reality of what today’s education offer. A relook will help us gear back on track.