The wearing of a particular dress with religious attachment of a certain community in educational institutions in India’s Karnataka state recently sparked off chaos and debate over it. The controversial matter may have numerous dimensions to be looked into and is undergoing judicial scrutiny. Unfortunate ballyhoo in educational institutions on whatsoever grounds disrupts the normal education delivery processes and contrives discussions on a dress, instead of the quality of education.
With the initial closure of educational institutions to prevent the spread of COVID in March 2020, there have been frequent closing and opening of institutions resulting in online or offline teaching and examination processes respectively since the last two years approximately. Nevertheless, this might have been inevitable due to the first, second and third wave of the pandemic, but has upset both the students and teachers as the two are genuinely aware of the efficacy of alternative arrangements for continuing education activities. As a result, any more closure of institutions on account of avoidable issues is simply uncalled for and people are fed up.
Schools catering to pre-primary, primary, and secondary education nurture children from the age of three years to teenage. Undoubtedly, the children of these age groups are quite innocent and are hardly aware of details of what is being talked about nowadays as regards religious centric dress controversy. But, the percolation of any thinking that seeds discrimination among young students for reasons beyond their control may culminate in the vitiation of social harmony of the multi-cultural, multi-religious India that is a bouquet of diversities. When innocent children do not have distinction among them and consider each other similar then why do older members of society try to strip off their innocence by several impositions?
As regards wearing of the dress, it is ubiquitously seen that everyone is usually enthusiastic about wearing school uniforms irrespective of their class of study as per the provisions laid down by the educational institutions. Moreover, the education delivery mechanism does not have any tangible or intangible role of uniform/dress in it. The social threats of everyday demarcation must not be allowed to desolate the institutions, because it is not easy to restore the decorum in institutions along with care and affection for one another. It is ought to understand that these are the places where younger minds socialize, interact, undertake peer-to-peer learning, learn to live in a society with passion and respect for each other.
Contemplating the eruption of the ruckus of any kind in an educational institution ushers us to the inadvertent or intentional violation of the prescribed norms and regulations, which eventually hampers the teaching-learning-evaluation activities. Such a situation, inarguably incurs a loss of learning opportunities to students, begetting ill-feeling among students, and drifting from the decreed academic calendar majorly, along with the weakening of the learning ecosystem in general. The degeneration in the quality of education on account of various issues that can be otherwise avoided creates the perception of irresponsible handling of the education system and endangers its integrity. Besides, the frequent unrest and conflicts in educational institutions leave an adverse impact on students and other stakeholders about the efficacy of the country's education system.
The significant number of students endeavoring post-graduation and doctoral-level education abroad points to the notable change in the way current students are perceiving higher education offered in the country. A continuous increase in the number of students migrating out for higher education opportunities is the culmination of their conclusion about the inadequate worthiness of these programs available in the higher education institutions of India.
The mass exodus of young talent from India to outside for education is alarming and concerning from the intellectual strength standpoint. Over and above, the draining out of money through migrating students is incapacitating the nation financially. Therefore, the discussions and debates are essentially needed for strategizing the retention of meritorious students within Indian education institutions. It is much more imperative at a time when the country is blessed with the demographic dividend. So much loss of education has already happened in the last two years, and attempts of making the temples of learning unquiet will have cascading effects. Beyond diminishing the sheen of education, it will gradually rupture the social fabric, and precipitation of antipathy in younger minds may be scourging.
In today's highly competitive world, every member of society should realize the imminent hardships coming with the poor quality of education and cajole the whole system for not allowing any more commotion in educational institutions. The peace of mind, mutual respect, empathy, harmony, and caring attitude in learners and mentors are the key enablers of an effective learning process in a judiciously prepared regulated framework that takes care of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation abilities in students. The knowledge transfer and creation can neither be achieved by force nor through beautifully crafted rules unless the complete education ecosystem gears up itself for the same.
However, serious thinking on improving the quality of factual knowledge, conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and metacognitive knowledge of students with contemporary skills and abilities is essential. For quite long, the poor employability of students passing out from secondary and tertiary education systems has been consistently bellowing for ameliorating the state of education in the country. Parents, teachers, and students have to plod together for sustaining the functionality of the education system in a sacrosanct manner with complete immunity to it from the discords prevalent in the society and strategize to completely desist the upcoming generations from battling with each other.
(The views expressed is personal)