Monthly Archives: May 2014

Traditional Knowledge and Education

Recently, one has often heard of an advocacy for free education as part of the ‘development’ model. In my opinion there is no need of free education and this is the reason why. In this time of transition we as a nation once again need to review from our own Indian civilizational perspective the very definition of education. Sir Macaulay’s intention of defining the idea of education meant that a person who is equipped in the 3 R s namely – reading, writing and arithmetic can be said to be educated. In addition the instutionalized westernized idea of education implies degrees and certificates. This as meant that from mid 19th century a huge percentage of our population that was armed with oral traditional knowledge and skills namely the traditional vocational, crafts persons, significant performing arts masters are now categorized as uneducated. It is therefore imperative to include oral system of education in the very definition of education and provide legitimacy to these professional skills. For example, a fantastic percussionist who can create magic with mathematical skills in his playing can he be actually called uneducated? Or a block printer who can rattle out chemical reactions and can teach many a chemistry professor be called uneducated? Or a Mangniyar from the desert of Rajasthan or a Baul from Bengal can tell you through songs the journey of a foetus in a mother’s womb, can he be called uneducated?
Secondly, many of these skills are in the hands of the so called lower castes and tribes. If these skills of traditional oral knowledge are repositioned within the caption of vocational certified educational qualification then the very people who are repositories of these educational qualifications and who now in order to be included in the mainstream want to dismiss these skills need not join the run for reservation since in they will have a place in the mainstream economy. This new government needs to reclaim a lot of space. And I hope many of the future heads of governance will listen to some of us. This will be development from the perspective of an Indian we will realize and accept that a very large percentage of our people are already educated.