Schooling for Peace and Harmony

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, EDUCATION, 11 Jan 2016

Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

All over the world there is stress on universalising schooling – in other words children must study to at least secondary levels or till the age of about 16 years. Education not only helps to develop children into good citizens but also helps society to become more just and humane. Education is recognised as an indispensable means for emancipation of not only the individual but also for society.

It also promotes understanding of the world and makes us more tolerant. We learn about other cultures and religions that help develop amity and harmony.

All economically developed countries whether in Europe or the Americas or Asia such as Germany, UK, Canada or Japan have almost 100 % literacy levels among the younger generation of peoples. Less advanced countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Kenya have various policies to promote education among children — both boys and girls.

The UN Charter of Human Rights passed in 1948 has recognised education as a fundamental right in Article 26 of the Charter that states, “Everyone has the right to education. It should be free at least to the elementary and foundational levels …” Similar legislations have been passed by other countries also.

In India, the Supreme Court had in 2002 ordained that free and compulsory education was a fundamental right of all children up to the age of 14 years . A suitable legislation was subsequently passed by Parliament to this effect.

But retaining children in schools is not possible just by legislation or good ideas. Having teachers who are effective in teaching young children are pre requisites. A proper infrastructure such as laboratories or libraries apart from decent buildings and playgrounds has to be developed. Another requirement in several schools in India is the provision of free mid-day meals to children. This policy promotes both nutrition, cognition and proper development of children.

Apart from promoting logical thinking or mathematical techniques, education broadens one’s mind and attitudes by reading about our history and heritage. We learn about our own as also about other cultures and religions of the world. An educated person can access good literature of the world including works on peace by Mahatma Gandhi, Johan Galtung, Martin Luther King. One can enjoy literature of brilliant writers such as Marcel Proust or Gunter Grass, the Hindi writer Munshi Prem Chand or the Japanese Nobel prizewinner Kenzaburo Oe and countless others.

Schooling also helps in learning foreign languages. Knowing a foreign language and speaking it helps build friendship and amity. Who has not experienced the help and warmth in France if you speak in their language? I myself have found immense pleasure in meeting foreigners from Japan and England speaking in Hindi even if it is slightly accented and has a few grammatical errors.

I end with the following quote of Edward Everett: Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.

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Dr Ravi P Bhatia – Educationist and Peace Researcher. Retired Professor, Delhi University. ravipbhatia@gmail.com

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Jan 2016.

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