Vision for Human Development and Self-Transformation

 

 

By Mr. N. B. Mirza

 

Education is the natural, harmonious and progressive development of man's innate powers. It is the development of all these capacities in the individual which will enable him to control his environment and fulfil his possibilities.

1. Education brings all-round and harmonious development of the personality of an individual such as physical, intellectual, aesthetic, social, economic, religious, cultural, spiritual and through such development individual and social needs can be realized.
2. In fact, education is the capacity to feel pleasure and pain at the right moment.
3. Education is the creation of sound mind in a sound body.
4. Education is a dynamic process which in its totality changes with the changing situations and developing circumstances.

To put it more clearly, education is an attempt for human development. It is a modification of behaviour because it leads us from indistinctive behaviour to human behaviour i.e. instead of acting impulsively, education enables a man to act rationally.

It prepares the child for adult life where he will be in a position to fulfil his responsibility of adult life. Education directs the child's capacities, attitudes, interests, targets, needs into the most desirable channels. It stimulates correct responses and to check anti-social impulse, threats, coercion, intimidation, fear are overcome. Since education is a lifelong process, society remains dynamic and appropriate reconstruction is effected. It helps to preserve the glorious past and the outgrown to discard. It is an emancipation from ignorance. Hence, in the words of Lodge, "Life is education and Education is life." Edward Throng has remarked that "education is the trans­mission of life, by the living to the living."

"If the inner landscape of our souls does not change the outer landscape of the world will not change either. "

Education is a continuous and creative process. It's aim is to develop the capacities latent in human nature and to coordinate their expression for the enrichment and progress of society. Education may also act as a powerful instrument for profound societal transformation within this creative process, it is possible to achieve an essential harmony between faith and reason through an approach to education that encourages the free investigation of all reality and trains minds to recognize truth, non-violence, peace and harmony.

At the national level India has been a signatory to international covenants such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has also been actively associated with the "Recommendation Concerning Education for International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace Education" adopted by the 18th session of UNESCO in 1974 and its sequel - the Integrated Framework of Action on Education for Peace. Human Rights and Democracy adopted by the 44th session of the International Conference on Education in October, 1994.

Recently, in the discourses, education has assumed critical significance as an essential instrument of awareness of human development and peace.

Immediate Prime Goals: Realistic Purposes and Means : UN Decade and Human Rights votaries suggest early action for certain definite purposes, viewed as short - term goals to lead to the realization of the long-term ideal vision. Here are some means which stand out boldly:

* Literacy
* Information
* Awareness
* Knowledge and understanding Literacy Information
* Empowerment
* Human Development
* Reflection and Action
* Commitment
* Solidarity
* Implementation Enforcement

National Policy on Education (1986) and Human Rights, Development and Peace : The reports of various Education Commissions and statements of educational policy in India have articulated the importance of the rights to Education and Education in Human Development as a part of the effort for the reform and development of education in India. It has laid special stress on National System of Education for equality with reference to women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribe, minorities, handicapped and value education.

Initiatives at National Level : The task of the protection and promotion of Human Rights, Peace, Nonviolence and Education is a complex one and requires the Cooperation of all sections of Society, Government and Nongovernmental Organizations and Institutions. The goal is to promote awareness, spread human rights literacy and create a culture of peace and non-violence across the length and breadth of the country.

And for this, the easiest and most practical way would seem to be included in all educational institutions at different levels across the educational ladder in both formal and nonformal settings for Curriculum, Text Books Material, Audio-Visual, Mass Communication and Media, Specialised Training and Orientation Programmes, Conferences, Seminars and Workshops, Exhibitions, Professional Courses, Celebration of Important Events Days.

We have to take a number of steps to spread awareness in the country, encouraging universities for research, seminars and publications and to start courses in human rights, peace and nonviolence at graduate and postgraduate levels. It is hoped that this awareness will trickle down from the established academic institutions and reach the community. However, besides formal education, non­formal, adult education and continuing education is also equally necessary to bring about changes in basic institutions like the family, school, the work place etc.

Teachers' Role : In any training or teaching programme the role of the committed teacher/trainer is of crucial importance. Teachers are the pivot around which all education revolves. Any attempt to introduce human development, peace and non-violence education in educational institutions will not be successful unless teachers/trainers are well­prepared, motivated and sensitised on these issues. It is expected that teachers themselves must demonstrate appreciation and understanding of human development, peace and non-violence in their interactions with the students and society.

The unambiguous promises and miles to go : "Every one has the right to education" states the universal declaration of Human Rights (1948) but today five decades after this historic text was adopted, the right to education remains an empty promise for millions of children, women and men. According to UNESCO, nearly one thousand million adults, two thirds of them women are unable to read or write. Some 130 million school age children have no access to primary schooling. Each year several million more children drop out of schools without the knowledge and skills they need for a healthy and productive life (Encyclopedia of Education for All).

The unfortunate neglect of Article 45 of Indian Constitution which unambiguously promises to people of India that "The State shall endeavour to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of this constitution free and compulsory education unlike they complete the age of 14 years." All the hopes that this Article had generated, ended in smoke as India has more illiterate children today than before and even after the expiry of 50 years of promise. More than 37 crore people are illiterate, two third of them being women. Ironically enough, it is feared that this illiteracy may go up to 50 % of the total illiterate population of the world when it is about to enter the 21st Century. The achievement of the target, "Elementary Education for all, by the year 2000 A.D. " seems to be difficult, if not impossible in view of the present scenario. Besides, our motto should be "Peace and Nonviolence Education for All" to achieve the goal of human development.

From the primitive to the contemporary, education has had as its central aim the guidance and training of the individual for the responsible and successful exercise of this right. Its imperative requirement (in such a case) is that the State must take constructive steps to formulate and carry out a long range programme through which to prepare its people for the participation required them to make the rights operative. For instance if the people are illiterate let them be given an education; if they are starving, let them be fed; if they are irresponsible, let them be educated for self-discipline. Within each state, what every individual is entitled to first, is, an opportunity for development of a sound, healthy body and mind, education, adequate food, shelter and clothing, medical care a safeguarded heritage and all the other indispensable things. He must have the opportunity to get the training and the guidance to enable him to earn a living through productive activity. He is entitled to an education to equip him with methods, techniques and information with which to work and perform his duties and to enable him to discover what his best talents and capacities are and to acquaint him with his place in and relation to society and the universe. Without these physical and intellectual foundations, the right of the individual to a free and full progress in life becomes a mere husk. He must have these basic assurances of freedom from want and fear.

Defining World Peace : Peace is interpreted mostly as the state of the absence of war. But reality is totally different. It also encompasses the peace of the individual, peace in the family and the existence of harmonious patterns of relationships among human beings.

All human development documents give a prominent place to peace and rights to education. They also stress the importance of education in promoting human development. UNESCO has played a leading role in promoting education in human development and peace.

Recommendations of the conference unequivocally mentioned that, human rights teaching and education must aim at fostering an attitude of tolerance, peace, respect and solidarity inherent in nonviolence, provide knowledge of human development in both national and international dimensions and develop among individuals awareness of the ways and means by which human development can be translated into social and political reality. Education should not only make the individual aware of his or her own rights but should also at the same time instil respect for the rights of others. live in peace and nonviolent atmosphere.

The World Plan of action adopted by the International Congress for Education and Democracy in Montreal (March, 1993) calls for global mobilization of the resources from the family of the United Nations to educate individuals and groups so that inappropriate conduct leading to peace, nonviolence and human development can be achieved.

NGO Initiatives : A major task before such a mission would be to evolve strategies for reaching the unreached and achieving the goals of education, development and peace within a given time frame in a systematic, sustained and integrated manner by involving all segments of civil society in this national endeavour. It should be a planned, coordinated and comprehensive district level drive with identified time bound objectives of making 1000 million people in the 15-35 age group education by 2000.

NGOs experiences in the field of such basic education have significantly influenced the design and the content of some of such initiatives. NGOs have subsequently played a very significant role in providing a strong support structure to programmes such as Anuvrat Movement etc. On their own too, they have worked out alternative and innovative approaches for providing such basic education and training, which includes value education for peace and non-violence, tolerance and balanced lifestyle for the fulfilment of becoming a new human being of a new society.

Anuvrat Movement and Self'-transformation : Late Acharya Tulsi, who threw off the yoke of sectarian narrowness and launched a unique movement called Anuvrat Movement in 1949 - 'Anu' means atomic or what we call basic and 'Vrat' means a vow.

The slogan of Anuvrat is - Samyamah Khalu Jeevanam - Life is nothing but self-control.

The Anuvrat Movement offers the following five point programme to instil the moral values and self-control i.e. the power of restraining one's instincts:


1. Right philosophy
2. Right determination
3. Right conduct
4. Efforts toward casting man in a new mould
5. Scientific investigation of spirituality

Acharya Tulsi inspired people belonging to all castes and faiths to adhere to this code of living a good life and for being instrumental in resolving all conflicts non-violently. He himself undertook long marches covering thousands of miles and inspired millions of people for self-transformation.

Education and Training for Harmonious Living : The first and foremost reason for the unrest conflict, hatred, disease and miserable human and social development condition in the world is that our education system is defective. The present system of education does not teach how to control one's emotions. An education system which does not teach how to control emotions and impulses always keeps open the danger of wars and unrest. Individuals as products of such a system neither themselves live in peace, nor let others live in peace.

Ganadhipati Tulsi's successor, Acharya Mahapragya, is continuing the great tradition of promoting social excellence through Anuvrat fortified with Preksha Meditation and Jeevan Vigyan and we hope that the network of self­transformed people will widen gradually and the twentyfirst century will see ANUVRAT emerging as a global ethics.

At an international conference on "World Peace and Anuvrat" on Nov. 6-9, 1998 at Sardar Shahar (Rajasthan), Acharya Mahapragya wishes:

  1. Let there be harmony in every walk of life.

  2. Let human mind blossom to its full capacity.

  3. Let not our desires cross the limits of rationality.

  4. Let individuals and society on one hand, man and nature on the other cooperate with each other.

  5. Let us make some small but firm resolve (which is the real meaning of Anuvrat ) for purity in life.

The dream of world peace is as complex as it is delectable. But we cannot overlook a problem merely because it is complex for wisdom demands that we find a solution to every difficult riddle.

Challenges for the Future : The recent initiatives in social, cultural and political mobilisation have to be understood against the complexities that characterise the Indian Polity. For, India is a multiparty democracy and while for a long time after independence, the party in power at the centre was also in power at the state levels, this has changed in recent years so that in a large number of states the political parties in power at the state level often reflect regional aspirations of the people. While the recent initiatives show that the strategies of cultural, political and social mobilisation are beginning to show positive results, India still has a long way to go and there is certainly no room for complacency at this state. Some of the unfinished tasks that need attention are the following:

  1. Complex nature of communities.

  2. Sustaining community interest, motivation, participation and NGOs involvement.

  3. Efforts through family; community, state & national level organisations.

  4. Continuous orientation of personnel. 5. Imbibing new ethos, new management practices.

  5. Strengthening decentralised planning processes.

  6. Giving centrality to gender issues. 8. Nurturing and strengthening community based innovations.

  7. Giving visibility to peace, nonviolence and lifestyle.

If India is to reach the critical threshold of education and Human Development Rights, culture of peace and nonviolence where high economic growth rates and social development are to be sustained, efforts to ensure Education For All (EFA), shelter for all and health for all have to be continued on a war footing. India faces these challenges with many assets. Its educational system is endowed with a strong policy framework with significant political commitment from the central and state governments. Its educational programmes are innovative, fairly well financed with a strong focus on quality with equity. These assets should take India to its destination of peace and human development.

Lastly, let me recite the poem written by Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore in order to realize the dream of such a new society:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where the words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action.

into that heaven of freedom, my father! let my country awake.

 

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Author : Mr. N. B. Mirza has served the Department of Education Govt. of Rajasthan, in various positions. At present he Director, Education Centre, Vidya Bhawan Society, Udaipur

Article Source : Anuvibha Reporter ( Special Issue : Dec. 2000 )
Ahimsa, Peacemaking, Conflict Prevention and Management Proceedings and Presentations
Fourth International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action ( IV ICPNA )
New Delhi : Nov. 10-14, 1999

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