21st Century education?

A quiet change is happening in the way we see and deliver or provide education. It is encouraging.

We look at education in different ways – monastic, secular, and non-formal. Secular education has seen rapid growth over the years. Number of schools in the country today is testimony to it. Non-formal education has been a huge success. Monastic education has also come a long way with inclusion of English as one of the important subjects. But education is education. It’s about broadening one’s circuit knowledge, one’s expanse of awareness. In the world we live in, awareness is more important. That’s real education.

Picture this. A 12-year-old nun, Ani Choni Tshoki in Trongsa, carries a backpack filled with English, Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics books, and leaves her nunnery hostel. She goes to Kuenga Rabten Primary School. She sits in Class VI. And picture Kuenga Rabten Primary School. Students who pursue “secular” education and those that come from the “monastic” are learning together. This is a brilliant merging of ideas.  Those who come from monastic backgrounds are competing equally with “secular” students. Ani Karma Yangzom, studying in Class PP, topped the mid-term exam.

Time has now arrived when there is a need to look at education differently. Let’s measure it by the opportunities that the State makes available for all – jobs in the civil service and private sector. What we need is people who are aware of the events at home and abroad besides specialisation that they have undergone. Do we give fair ground to fight?

Let’s recall our national dream of becoming a knowledge-based society. Information Technology  (IT) is good. That’s not enough, though. In order to make use of the full potential of IT, which is immense, we need awareness. Awareness can be had only when we can walk out of prejudice. Education is about creating awareness.

A new education system is begging to be recognised this day.

We have wholesome education system, but that hasn’t done us much good. Our education could be failing perhaps because we aren’t focused on the “real” wholesome education. There are education systems where bechelor’s degree is taken not as lightly as we do. It’s all about expectations. And here we are talking about creating this little home a knowledge-based society. It’s all about raising standard.

There was a time when the “secular” students had to familiarise themselves with critically important Buddhist texts like the Thenchoes and Sheting. Thankfully, Shakespeare came back. In between, science and technology has ruled our world. How do we understand and accomodate them?

The way our education system is set up, things are difficult to change. But earnest effort has to be made to give equal opportunities to all. This is our education narrative in the 21st Century. Or what is it?

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    A wise looking person told me this once. Education is about keen observation, analysis, reading, reasoning and recording of our environment. I said it’s probably science. Then he did a bit of correction saying probably it’s observation, recording, reading, reasoning and analysis in that order. And I just enquired whether to call that arts or simply commerce. In short, I still find it confusing to define the term, ‘education’.

    The education today is mostly about certificates, examinations, admissions, results and preparation of the syllabus, both for the teachers and the students. The biggest challenge with education today is with its appropriate application. If students know their tasks in day to day classes, they are not aware of the entire framework in place called ‘education’. So the objectives are all about doing the home works regularly and then doing well in the examinations.

    In other words, it’s become more result and performance oriented than education oriented. And still, we are trying to define education for 21st century. It’s difficult. Knowledge today is easily accessible, it can be even be measured in megabytes and gigabytes. Even if one copies everything in the name of ‘education’, one needs to learn where eventually to paste it for the application part. And it needs to be meaningful and fruitful to service education a purpose.

    That purpose is missing. It has become truly job oriented, students know which job to apply with which educational qualifications. If there are competitive exams involved, like the upcoming civil service exams, the students know how to prepare for it for success. So from just results, the system has moved to rate of success. Quantitative performance matters now as even qualitative tests are done just to decide success rates against the rate of failure.

    Education has become a body of numerous systems of learning in phases, climbing up the ladder all the time. Somewhere, the process itself has lost its soul in the methods of learning for a purpose. Application of knowledge are mere experiments now and we even want to accept that as applied research. So education is research for the faculties or teachers; and it’s analysis and recording for the students. That’s of course in my very personal opinion.

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