Education is the birth right of everyone not a privilege reserved for some
Education is a potent tool for social transformation, social change, social equality and economic development. It is a vehicle that could move nation on the path of peace, progress and prosperity. But it is possible only when education is imparted in its real essence. The aim of education is enlightenment of human minds, personality development, social and moral development and, to eradicate socio economic inequality (SES). But there are various ills in our education system that are detrimental to the all-round development and excellence of learners, for which teachers need to be sensitized. Sometimes children of educated and affluent parents remain focal point in classroom. Teachers ensure that they get maximum benefits and don’t face any problem because they have the notion that they will be held accountable for mistakes as educated parents monitor their wards performance. Those who are first generation learners are not taken seriously as some teachers have the feeling that none is there to supervise their academic performance at home. In reality first generation learners need quality education and individual attention because learners from high SES can compensate as they have educated parents and home tuition lessons to support them in their studies. Students with low SES face inequality in education.
Some teachers impose conditions of worth on students. Meritorious students are treated with respect and dignity; while those who lag behind are disrespected or neglected. In every classroom meritorious students are favoured against those who are average or below average. They remain the centre of attention of almost every teacher. Individual attention is paid to them. Teachers praise toppers in such a way that demean the morale of average or below average learners. Efforts of average or below average students are not sincerely acknowledged. Some teachers use academic merit as a yardstick to evaluate students. They implicitly or explicitly bring it into minds of students that marks matters but that in reality is wrong; real education lies in learning not in memorising the content. Some teachers expect students to be parrots, they force students to vomit in exams same notes that they dictate in class; this mars creativity, analytical thinking and writing skills. Thus learners, who are poor at rote memory, suffer.
In curricular and extracurricular activities, students with good academic merit are given preference, despite the fact that there are some students who may not be good at studies but they could excel in sports and cultural activities. They are devoid of opportunities despite having talent. Some teachers use painful comments that harass slow learners; and that kills their self esteem and take a toll on their psyche. Teachers fail to appreciate the fact that every learner has his own pace and style of learning but despite that every learner deserves equal respect, rights and opportunities.
Some teachers breed gender inequality. They have notion that female students can only be good at language subjects and only boys can be good at mathematics. Some teachers give gender stereotyped examples while teaching; like; Boys are brave; Girls are beautiful.
Teachers are not sensitized about the needs and problems of students having intellectual disability, learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Some teachers blame slow learners and use corporal punishment without realising the fact that such students are not disinterested or inattentive but it is their limited intellectual capacity, or other psycho emotional problem that arrests their development and due to which they lag behind their peers.
Education is the birth right of everyone not a privilege reserved for some. Education based on inclusion and equality only can bring nation on the path of peace, prosperity and progress. It is high time for educational institutions to realise that education is imparted keeping in view principles of inclusion and social equality. Teachers should create atmosphere of unconditional acceptance, positive regard and no one should be denied access to quality education. Education if only provided to those with high SES, or physical or psychological competence will have detrimental effect on social and economic development of a nation and it will lead to social inequalities; it will take a toll on psycho emotional functioning neglected and marginalised sections of community. It will widen the already existing economic inequality; because those who need education most will be neglected and those who are already higher in status will rule job market because they possess high academic degrees as a result rich will become richer and poor will become poorer; exclusion will have trickledown effect.
(Author is a Research Scholar, Dept of psychology, University of Kashmir)