Development Education


I. The Role of Education in Civilisation

The institutions of family and education are the most important instruments of civilization. The role of family is to impart character and culture to successive generations of individuals. The primary aim of formal education is to abridge the learning process by communicating in a concentrated form the essential experience and accumulated knowledge of past generations at the levels of thought, information, and skills.

At the highest level education seeks to impart knowledge and the capacity for original thinking, but usually succeeds in developing the faculty of memory and presenting to it the original thoughts and theories previously discovered by others. Most often knowledge is transmitted at the level of information. The transfer of huge quantities of information in an efficient coordinated fashion is a major achievement of modern education. Training is given to teach skills for converting information into practically useful activities ranging from highly specialized skills like medicine and engineering to simple manual skills like typing and driving.

In undeveloped societies most knowledge, information and skills are transferred through informal education by apprenticeship or acquired directly through life experience. Formal education is available only to a very few and restricted to a small number of subjects. As civilization advances formal education becomes accessible to wider sections of the population, abridging the time required for learning, improving the quality of knowledge and skills, and replacing informal learning in more and more fields. Specialized training is introduced at higher
and lower levels of each subject.

Since Independence India's system of formal education has expanded in many fields in response to the needs
of the country. The expansion of agricultural departments into separate colleges and agricultural colleges into full-fledged Agricultural Universities provided the educational infra-structure that made the Green Revolution
possible. The establishment of Industrial Training Institutes provided the lower tiers of education needed to supplement that of the engineering colleges for promotion of industrial development. The founding of the Administrative Staff College at Hyderabad in the 50's to promote management studies has been followed by the establishment of management schools, departments, and courses throughout the country. Formal education plays an indispensable role in modern life, the extent of which can only be appreciated if we imagine the impact of withdrawing the system in one or more fields such as medicine, law, engineering, agriculture, management, accounting, etc.

Development is the key issue with which the world is grappling today. It needs the support of a formal system of education encompassing the entire spectrum of knowledge, information, and skills at the higher and lower levels integrated into the present educational framework of the country.

II. Development as a Science

Development as subject has emerged gradually in the last three decades as a specialized field within the broader discipline of economics. More recently sociology and anthropology have also specialized in the study of development, each from their own perspective. Development has not yet been recognized as a separate science distinct from the other disciplines with which it is related.

Every science evolves by a dual process of specialization and integration. Through specialization important topics or areas of study gain the status of separate disciplines, so that adequate attention may be given to research and education in these areas. Through integration each field of study is related to other fields of study which approach the same topic from a different perspective or which offer useful theories, methodologies, or tools of study.

The boundaries of any discipline are arbitrary. The division of the study of social life into several separate disciplines is based on the needs of society and the role of education in fulfilling those needs. Two hundred years ago economics was studied as a part of history. Sociology emerged as a separate discipline only in this
Century. Each of these sciences takes as its focal point one aspect of social life, and examines all human activities and social institutions from that perspective. Those areas closest to the focal point are most clearly and vividly illumined. Those at the periphery are left out of focus. New disciplines like management have evolved with focal points in these peripheral areas.

Development is a fundamental social process which can only be studied in a comprehensive and penetrating manner by taking the process itself as the focal point and discovering the evolutionary laws and principles which govern it. It must become a specialized subject independent of economics or sociology. It must be integrated with all the other social sciences to which it is essentially related. At the higher levels it should be studied as a specialized subject with emphasis on abstract knowledge of theory and law, and broad analysis of development as it has occurred throughout history around the world. At the lower levels it should be integrated with the other social sciences, focusing on information and practical skills relevant to the local area and the present day.

III. Development as a Process

Man alone among living beings has a mind capable of self-consciousness which enables him to develop knowledge of self as well as skills and techniques for mastery over his environment. The knowledge and skills form the basis of systems, organizations and institutions at the physical, social, psychological and cultural levels. The evolution of his outer social life is an expression of the awakening self-consciousness in man and his psychological self-development. The process of conscious planned evolution by mind as opposed to unconscious spontaneous growth by natural instinct is what we mean by development.

The study of this phenomenon can be done at many levels. The outer expressions vary, but the basic laws and processes remain the same whether we examine the individual, the family, the community, or wider social organizations. The process of creation is the same whether we focus on life at the level of survival, i.e. food, shelter, protection, or at the level of production, i.e. land, technology, institutions, or at the level of education, i.e. experience, family, training, tradition, etc.

Development involves the evolution of higher and more complex levels of organization. Energy is trained and channeled into skills. Skills are harnessed to serve the aims of an organization. Organised skills are coordinated and interrelated giving rise to higher order systems which form the basis of social institutions. Experience in the functioning of these levels leads to the formation of social conventions, beliefs and values. This hierarchy from energy to values can be discovered in all aspects and at every level of social life, and everywhere the laws governing the transition from one phase to another are the same. These points of transition are key areas of study where the essence of the process is most clearly revealed.

At the next higher level developments in each separate field are interrelated and integrated. The points at which two or more skills, systems, organizations or institutions interrelate are also fertile areas for study. At a still higher level society moves from one level of integration to another level, e.g. from primitive to tribal, from urban to modern, etc. For this transition to occur certain internal changes must take place within the group and certain outer conditions must be fulfilled which can be identified.

Each institution, e.g. family, education, banks, market, nation, etc. can be studied historically to identify the points where it has made an evolutionary growth. For the successful functioning of each institution there are indispensable contributions from other institutions, e.g. administration requires education, trade depends on transport, etc. which can be studied to reveal the complex patterns of interdependence.

There are certain conditions of maturity - in the individual, the institution, or the community -which make possible or compel change. There are psychological forces, at the level of the individual and group which make for growth, e.g. interest, enthusiasm, curiosity, imitation, competition, rivalry, jealousy, possessiveness, etc. They can each be studied in historical perspective to assess their contributions to development.

The processes of development are governed by certain laws and principles which lend themselves to observation, verification and research. The methodology for research is the same as that of the other social sciences, only the centre of focus and breadth of perspective differ.

IV. Development-Oriented Educated

Every educational institution has a purpose which it consciously or unconsciously serves. Christianity has spread all over the world, because Oxford and Cambridge were founded as seats of religious education 800 years ago. Modern civilization itself has spread to all countries because thousands of universities have been established throughout the world. For development to really take off in India, development-oriented education must be introduced at all levels to prepare the future generations for this achievement.

Already the importance of a relevant educational curriculum has been recognized in some quarters, and a few token steps have been taken in the right direction. University Grants Commission has recently introduced a scheme providing funds to colleges for restructuring their courses to make them more relevant to the development needs of the community. In addition a high level working group headed by Mr. G.Parthasarathi, Chairman of Indian Council for Social Science Research, has been constituted to identify means to achieve a better linkage between education, employment and development.

Farther from home, but perhaps even more significant, is an exciting experiment now underway in France, where UNESCO and UNICEF are co-sponsoring a four year project in Development Education in French secondary schools. The programme covers theories, policies, strategies and problems of development in the Third World as well as an historical survey of development in the West from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Research is underway to evolve a development-oriented syllabus for inclusion in the French national curriculum.

Educators in India today have an opportunity to make a bold departure from their unquestioning allegiance to an outdated, stale curriculum without relevance to the life of the country. A new development-oriented curriculum can be drawing up which stresses that aspect of each subject - be it history, economics, psychology, sociology, agriculture or engineering science - which relates to the phenomenon of development and its expressions in social life.

Though such a step will be highly significant, it cannot have the full desired impact so long as development is considered merely as one among the many social sciences. As agricultural education really received the recognition it deserves only when the 22 agricultural universities were established under ICAR, the best way to promote development-oriented education is by founding Development Universities in every state under a National Institute for Planning and Development supported by the introduction of new colleges, departments, and courses for development in existing educational institutions.

The purpose of the National Institute would be to draw together the best minds from every academic field, and through extensive study of past events both within India and abroad, attempt to evolve a new science of planning and development incorporating and integrating all the social and physical sciences, to produce a unifying perspective of the nation as it has emerged from the past and moved into the future.

The research could form the basis for a graded national development curriculum which varies in form and content according to the level of education. At the University level, the focus could be national and international with emphasis on the theories and strategies? The stress should not be on technical training as in agriculture or engineering but on a much broader-based study of development issues, successful models and programs, goals and limitations, and strategies for achievement. Other universities can also establish schools and departments for this purpose.

At the other end of the spectrum, there should be courses in the colleges and polytechnics which focus on the problems and potentials of the district and taluk in which the school is located, with a view to equip the student with both the motivation and capacity to contribute meaningfully to the nation's progress. Such courses can be made mandatory for all those seeking employment as government officials, bank agents, engineers, scientists, etc.

V. Aims of Development Education

1. The present system of education does not provide either the theoretical knowledge or practical training needed by administrators directly involved in supervising or guiding the course of development at the local or national level. A system of development education will aid the formation of a cadre of qualified development administrators.

2. Advances in any subject give a richer content to general education. Development education can contribute to the general preparedness of citizens at all levels and in all fields of society. The manager, the engineer, the teacher, the scientist, the entrepreneur, the professional can all benefit form a greater understanding of development processes, problems, strategies and achievements.

3. Each new subject before it fully develops serves as an auxiliary support to existing subjects. Development education can be read as part of the general curriculum to fortify it or it can be presented as a separate subject reaching the same heights of intellectual stimulation and academic rigour prevailing in other fields.

 

 


Future Education Conference

We are pleased to invite you to participate in a one-day conference on Future Education in India being organized at Anandha Inn, Pondicherry on January 28, 2018 to consider the changes needed in our schools and to examine successful strategies that are already being applied by schools in India and overseas. 

READ MORE