Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Development of Indian Education

 The Development of Indian Education

A review of the history of Indian education and the number of researchers involved in studying students’ learning styles demonstrates the importance of the topic. The beliefs of the majority culture can impact a student’s learning style. In the case of India, Hinduism is the majority religion, and the literature shows that strong Hindu values, and in particular the value of Karma in the culture, has penetrated Indian education over the centuries and up to modern times.

Traditional Indian education was viewed as the instrument for self-realization and is related to early Hindu culture.An archaeologist discovered an early city on the river Indus in Sind. This period is called the Indus Valley Civilization. Archaeologists found some early figures of goddesses and a seated figure of a male god.The valley civilization did not leave any inscriptions describing their society and schooling, but scholars think the early discovery of the Hindu god and goddesses give meaning to the forms of traditional education. The Valley Civilization, or Harappa culture, lasted for a thousand years until the Aryans invaded India.

The most important traditions of early Indian education began with the Aryan period. It was during this time that people were speaking Sanskrit, an Indo Aryan language. Education in the Aryan period was exclusively for the Brahmins, known as the priestly class. Later this was extended to Kshariiyas (soldiers).

One traditional Hindu ritual is the Upanayana, or thread ceremony. This ceremony is described in early Hindu literature and was required for all Aryans to learn. The local people were called Dasyas or Shudras, which means “servant,” and Aryans looked down on them. Under the Aryans, the Shudras had no right to education. The priests usually kept busy with performing ceremonies. The priests were also teachers. Usually young students had to stay with the priests to learn to recite the hymns of the gods and goddesses, which are called Vedas. The collection of hymns is known as the Rig Veda, and it was memorized and recited by one generation to the next. There were also long poems written about warriors and kings, known as the Ramayan and the Mahabharata. Because it was compulsory to recite the Vedas, Aryan students practiced and had good memories. During the Upanayana (thread ceremony) all the children, including boys and girls, began their education.

The family would invite a guru (teacher) to come to their house and teach their children. The teacher system was introduced, but usually all education was related to learning the Vedas in order to praise their gods. The Aryans believed that the gods would be pleased by worshipers singing religious hymns and offering sacrifices. The children had to learn with their guru until they reached marrying age. Then some men became the priests of their family and performed all the religious duties and sacrifices. Students at that period spent a large amount of time as apprentices.

In the Vedic period, education was available for only three classes: priests, soldiers, and craftsmen. The fourth (untitled) class was not entitled to the vedic ritual. Brahmin refers to a very pure caste, and the untouchable refers to the most polluting caste. The system forbade any social interaction among different castes. There was no mass education. The Shrudras and untouchables were denied this right, and many low caste and out caste people were illiterate. Aryans used the caste system to create a superior position. The Hindi term for caste, varia, also refers to color. It indicates the high castes were
white. Aryans despised and looked down upon darker skinned natives.

The caste system hindered the development of education. The early caste system was quite complex and rigid. Certain jobs belonged to certain castes, and a person’s name, norms, and conduct would indicate their likelihood of obtaining an education in the future. Gradually, Aryans dictated that only the high caste Brahmin had the right to practice Hindu ceremonies and sacrifice offerings. This severely limited anyone else from having a chance at education. The characteristics of the Vedic age’s education focused on the following: 
(a) The role of the teacher was like that of a god. The teacher was a priest and helped the student to fulfill the religious duties. 
(b) The teaching content was focused on the Vedas, religious hymns, and books. 
(c) Students learned from rote memorization. 
(d) The opportunities for learning were meant only for the upper priesthood caste. 
In the Vedic period, the aim of knowledge was to obtain the higher knowledge of reasoning in order to achieve self -realization. Worldly desires and enjoyments were viewed as ignorance and were discouraged. “Ignorance is the cause of human bondage which can be dispelled by wisdom alone. If all the worldly desires are given up, a mortal becomes immortal. There were three clear steps to higher knowledge according to the Upanishada, or Hindu scripture.

The Brihadaranyak Upanishad clearly states that education in the highest knowledge depends upon three processes, in order: 
(1) Sravana, 
(2) Manana, and 
(3) Nidhidhyasana.
Sravana is listening to what is said by the teacher. Mancina is defined as constant contemplation of the one reality in accordance with the ways of reason aiding in its apprehension. Nidihyasana is concentrated contemplation of the truth so as to realize it. The purpose of education was to help students develop analytical skills that would lead to a good life.

After the Vedic age, Buddhism and Jainism came into focus, changing India’s education. People felt dissatisfied with Hinduism because the Vedic religion focused on many rites and sacrifices. Worship became a big show, and people followed Buddha and Jainism or became ascetics. School at this time was centered around the monasteries. They found Buddha objected to the caste system, and when their people preached, Jain followers used the common language of the local people. This opened the door for more people to receive education. Monks became teachers and monasteries became schools. Furthermore, the monks of Buddhism and Jainism liked to travel from place to place, and wealthy merchants donated money to build monasteries. This enhanced the education of different castes in many parts of India.

Jain followers insisted that their faith should be based on right faith, right knowledge, and right action.This led education to emphasize the student’s character development. At that time, several kings, such as Ashoka and Gupta, loved poets. They also encouraged poets, writers, scientists, and artists to contribute to society. In their view, education should not consist only of reciting rituals. Multiple intelligence development began to be promoted. The most distinctive elements of the education in this period were: (a) Monks were teachers and monasteries were schools; (b) education was more common and open for all; (c) character development was of the same importance as reciting and chanting hymns; and (d) students started to learn science, art, writing, and poetry.

After the popularity of Buddhism and Jainism, the Brahmins tried to improve and strengthen Hinduism. In that period, the Indian kingdoms were divided into the North and South, and the Chola kings were the most powerful. The kings and rich people tried to restore Hinduism and contributed a lot of money and land for building temples in every village. The temples were not only used for worship, there were also used for schools. The schools were held in the courtyard of the temple, and the students used two languages to learn their lessons. One was Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas, and the other language was Tamil, a very common language during the Chola kingdom. The famous Ramayana was adapted to Tamil, and many poems were also written in Tamil. New teachings about Hindu worship were introduced by Ramanuja. He taught that the worship of god consisting of Bhakti (loving other people and devotion to god) and loving others rather than only reciting the prayers after the priest. In his teaching, there was no high caste or low caste.

During the Chola period, the character development of students emphasized Bhakti and the purpose of education still focused on their knowledge to praise and to love others. Religion and education could not be separated. At the same time, the education in the north was very similar to the south. However, only the high caste children learned from the priest during this period, and science declined because of superstition.

Astronomy was mixed up with superstition and became astrology. Medical knowledge was stopped because it was said that anyone who touched a dead body would lose caste. Superstitious ideas penetrated into Indian education. Because the northern kings built a lot of temples, the insides and outsides were filled with images of Hindu gods and goddesses in painting or carvings. Therefore, the paintings and architecture were famous, but the student’s learning was mixed with superstition, because fear was a part of their learning. Priests as teachers could bruise the student’s soul and punish their physical body if they disobeyed the teacher’s rules.

When the Arabs invaded Western India, Islam was brought to India and opened the tension between Muslims and Hindus. The impact on Indian education under the Mughal rulers dictated that no Muslim could attend an institution run by Hindus. According to Alexander, Muslim education was similar to Hindu education. The school was usually within the mosque and was called the maqtaba. The purpose of teaching children in the mosques was similar to the Hindus—to educate their children in their own religion. The boys and girls learned the Holy Quran. There was a place of higher education called the madrassalis. This was for training professionals such as priests, judges, and doctors. At the time of King Aurangzeb, Muslims were forbidden from attending a Hindu educational institution.At that time people used Hindi and Urdu, the new language that was understood by both Hindus and Muslims. The court used the Persian language.

Alexander summarizes the similarities of Hindu and Muslim education as follows: (a) Education was religion centered. (b) The forests and the countryside were the centers of education. (c) Though primarily devoted to the study of religion and philosophy, it encouraged the study of many intellectual and aesthetic activities like mathematics, astronomy, grammar, and politics. (d) The system laid down certain well -defined norms of behavior and patterns of thought; it strove to build up the personality of the student and infused in him a sense of character. (e) Teachers took to teaching for the love of learning. (f) There was no set machinery of educational administration.

India entered into the modern period at the time of the British conquest. From that moment, Indian education turned a new chapter as the British brought their own educational system into India. There were some new types of schools introduced at this time. English was the medium of instruction, especially in the southern part of India such as Madras, Bengal, and Bombay. Most of these schools were run by Christian missionaries, and the old education system suffered under the new British company rule. The old system focused on training students in classical languages such as Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persian. There was tension regarding what would be the medium of instruction and a debate on the issue of whether to have mass education or education only for a certain class of people.

From the Indian perspective, the coming of the British brought the decline of the goal of mass education. At that time, the government took over land from Indian rulers that had previously been used for education. The land being taken away was considered the reason that mass education was neglected. It was argued that the size of the population made it impossible to adopt mass education. Some people suggested the government should allow the upper class to receive Westernized education first, and then it would automatically trickle down to the masses. This theory was called the Downward Filtration Theory.

In 1813, the government sanctioned one lakh (10,000) rupees per year to the development of education, but Indians still continued to debate with British administrators over the type of educational system. Some favored a traditional way, and some favored Western learning. An Indian named Rammohun Roy insisted that only learning could modernize India. In 1835 the government made the decision that English would be the main medium of instruction in a few of the best schools and colleges. The British education system became known as English education. English schools, many of them sponsored by the Christian community, began to mushroom in the major cities of India.

The British perspective was that using an English medium could help communication and help the new government. Thomas Macaulay’s Minute on education reflects their way of thinking about education for Indians: The aim of the British Government was to create a “class of people who would
be Indians in blood and skin but English in spirit.” To achieve this aim, the government would educate only select upper class people who had the leisure and means for thorough English education and only Western sciences and English literature would be taught in Indian schools. English alone was fit to be the medium of instruction.Macaulay was one of the aggressive advocates of British education for Indians. He presupposed the superiority of Western education compared with non Western education and said, “Having become instructed in European knowledge, (Indians) may, in some future age, demand European institutions . . . the imperishable empire of our arts and our morals, our literature and our laws.”

The government made English education more popular, and government jobs were only offered to Indians who knew English. Many Indians postulated that the new educational system only produced government staff for the British. The majority who spoke their mother tongue were neglected. At that
time, 90 percent of Indians still remained illiterate. Indian education in one way tried to shift to the British system. More emphasis was put on teacher training and a grading system and class structure were also introduced. However, traditional rote memorization and the role of teacher as a god still remained. The government continued to reform education. In 1854, Charles Wood advocated the grading system through introducing the examination system into India. He encouraged education for girls and established teacher training institutions. This led to systematized educational activities. Indian education was to a great extent an imitation of the British system. The British believed that an English-educated Indian would be more cooperative and support the British rule. English education brought Indians into modem ideas of equality, justice, democracy, and nationalism. It also led to the fall of the British rulers.

In the British period, education was similar to education in other colonized countries. Education served the needs of the colonial hierarchy and was not identified with Indian culture. Critical thinking was introduced and tests were emphasized. The examination continued to be the focus at the time of de-colonization. Education was only for the elitist, and only the best could survive. Bray and Lee state, “The de-colonization of India was abrupt and chaotic, driven by urgent political expediency and with no time for long-term planning of education or any other sector.”Education became mixed with
input from Hinduism, Islam, and the British.

Illiteracy was a longtime problem of India. During British rule, four out of five villages were without a primary school, and three out of four children did not go to school. Primary education was obviously neglected even as higher education continued to develop. The leaders of the freedom movement created and set up the National Council of Education to oppose British education. In general, English education contributed to the freedom movement by being the link language that brought the different language groups of India together and connected India with the outside world. The involvement of missionaries in education opened the door for girls’ education. Many girls were taught by female missionaries or missionary wives. Also, more girls received training as teachers. English education continued to foster the values of equality and liberty. This inspired India’s independence movement.

At the time of independence, Gandhi believed that the goal of education was to create a truthful and non-violent person. The foundation of education was a path to self-realization. The aim of education was to seek the truth. Gandhi criticized the educational system’s neglect of building a student’s character. Manohar considered Gandhi’s criticisms of the educational system at the time of independence: Gandhi held that the educational system alienated students from their own traditional occupation, natural surroundings and indigenous culture. He believed it developed an inferiority complex and self-alienation. Undue emphasis was put on literacy education, at the exclusion of the culture of life-sustaining human values. It ignored the culture of heart and hand. It was too materialistic and hence failed to arouse a sense of social service.

Gandhi promoted mass education. He believed that all people should have a basic education, and he advocated using the mother tongue for the medium of instruction as a way of preserving culture and tradition. He also promoted craft education to enhance students’ abilities and to learn a skill for survival.

He also redefined the role of the teacher, pointing out that a teacher was a guide, friend, and philosopher to the students. This view put the teacher and student closer together. Because of Gandhi’s philosophy, free education was introduced, but the illiteracy rate was still high. At that time, only 14 percent of the population was literate, and only one out of three children were enrolled in primary schools.State schools were usually poorly equipped in comparison to private schools.

In the modern period of India, Swami Dayanand and Rabindranath Tagore contributed to the focus on Hindu culture in education in order to balance the development of Western education in India. Tagore believed education was an inner freedom that enlightened everyone: “The activities of the educational institutions should preserve the cultural heritage of the nation.” Swami Dayanand’s perspective was that the aims of education were to lead to moksha, or salvation. Swami Dayanand put knowledge into two categories:  “knowledge helps to distinguish between the permanent and temporary, the true and the false, the pure and the impure.” Swami Dayanand also believed in the transmigration of the soul. He believed that because of ignorance, the human soul is in bondage and needs education to gain freedom from the bondage of the world.

In India today, about 80 percent of the children go through an education process of inferior quality provided mostly by government schools, and about 20 percent benefit from a comparatively higher standard of education offered by private agencies. The children from the poor families in some rural and in all urban areas go to inferior schools where they are made to see themselves as less well dressed, as belonging to a lower level of education, and as ones who will not do well in exams. The advent of English medium schools prevented upper caste students from mingling with the poor, thus dividing the society into a hidden caste system.

India has just recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of independence. The educational system now is more focused on the examination system. Some students vomit at the time of examination because the pressure is so great. Many students cannot eat or sleep before exams, and many students take extra tutorial classes to prepare for the examination. Manohar called this educational system a textbook-oriented educational system. Students have a very heavy load of textbooks, which they are told to use to memorize all the facts without understanding the text.

Parents and schools place a lot of pressure on students to get good grades. Parents want their children to be competent to make money. The future social status of their children depends greatly on English medium schools. Gaining status in society is given priority over service to society. Material success is viewed as the most important acquisition. Manohar believed these types of schools prepare children for these types of success but do not teach them how to face a failure or disappointment.

Research supports that culture and family expectations make the student change his style of learning even if it is not the style of learning the student follows naturally. From the Western point of view, learning styles are related with the brain system and the external factors of culture. To Indians, cognitive process is related with Hindu belief The following literature on the development of Indian education examines the Hindu cultural impact on education.

No comments:

Post a comment