Chintan Shivir: a critical reflection session on re-imagining education

Chintan Shivir a critical reflection session on re-imagining education

हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए यहां क्लिक करें

On the occasion of 50 years celebration of Kishore Bharati organization, a two day critical reflection session (Chintan Shivir) is organized by in association with Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune on reimagining education, in the context of resolving the dilemmas and paradoxes of current education, and its role in a democratic republic.

Two observations we cannot ignore about India (also true of several other countries):

  1. A farming family doesn’t want their children to be farmers, and doesn’t want their children to be natives of rural India.
  2. An educated rural Indian doesn’t want to be a native of a village but seeks to migrate to urban settlements, even if it means living in slums.

Similar observations can be made about tribal communities, but most often they are forced to migrate. Though the reasons for this are not entirely due to education, the kind of aspirations that get imbibed during school and college education are also responsible. No doubt there are socio-cultural, economic, and political reasons. Still, in this brainstorming session, we will try to focus on what kind of reforms in the curriculum and the learning environments we need to bring in reshaping education that addresses these issues head-on.

During the recent pandemic, we have witnessed massive return migrations to rural homes from the temporary urban settlements, as an indication of the inhuman model of development. If this is an indicator of 75 years of Independent India, many things went seriously wrong. People who were living independently, the farmers and tribals, became dependent, though we have seen partial relief from the feudal structure in the rural landscape. The mainstream school and college education system has successfully alienated and devastated the lives of our rural and tribal population. Despite being the producers of the major wealth of the country, their lives and aspirations are systematically diminished, altered and fractured. Most disappointed communities live in this country’s villages and hamlets.

KB was founded with the belief that an effective educational system can only be assessed by how well it enhances the quality of life in rural India. Several programs that KB undertook over the years reflect this engagement. This agenda is unfinished, but it is as relevant as it was in the 1970s. A recent publication by Kishore Bharati Paradoxes of Rural Development, exposes the dilemmas and paradoxes of education and rural development. It is written by one of our founder trustees, Late Suresh Suratwala, and has a lengthy foreword by Anil Sadgopal, (Download the PDF of the book).

Today’s educated Indian is unfit to be a native in rural India. The mediated world, created largely by the formal and informal educational and cultural institutions of this country, is predominantly engulfed by rituals, tools and narratives that promote us to be consumers, and not producers. The existing academies (schools, colleges and universities), and the national education policies do not consider this as an issue, far from a critical and constructive engagement.

The markers of authentic education (Asli Talim): No education is meaningful if it cannot provide a clear direction to alleviate poverty, make people creative and happy, address social justice, maintain a habitat for the coexistence of all creatures, and inculcate the values of respecting human rights. And most importantly, if education cannot make a citizen understand the relevance of the principles and rules encoded in the constitution and be able to judge the actions of themselves and others, it cannot be considered complete. As educationists, if we cannot promise this, we cannot confidently claim to seek “education for all”.

Chintan Shivir is taking place on 25th and 26th March 2023 at IISER Pune campus with educationists, researchers and activists from across the country. This event is organized by our partner organization Kishore Bharati in collaboration with the Department of Science Education, IISER Pune.

The participants are requested to post their short articles as separate topics under the caegory, Education at this space to document the discussion in the form of a live journal. The research and curation team of the event will be posting articles on behalf of the participants to invite wider debate and participation.