Before 1976, education was the exclusive responsibility of the states. In the Constitutional Amendment of 1976, education was included in the Concurrent list. Since then, the central government continues to play a leading role in the evolution and monitoring of educational policies and programmes, the most notable of which are the National Policy of Education (NPE), 1986, and the Programme of Action, 1986 as updated in 1992. The modified policy envisages a national system of education to bring about uniformity in education, making adult education a mass movement, providing universal access, retention and quality in elementary education and expanding the structure of higher education.
Moral education is not our priority. It is not included in any syllabi-whether of science or humanities. Morals or morality, broadly speaking, implies honesty of character, fairness in attitude and absence of evils like jealousy, hatred and greed from actions. Our system of education gives us formal knowledge of various types of subjects but does not teach us what is morality and how to bring the characteristics related to it in our mindset. Our schools, colleges and universities are churning out millions of young graduates every year who are experts in some field of science, art, commerce or technology. No teaching or training is given to the students on moral values. What have been the results of this system of education? We have professionals in every field, but we have few people in society who have a high moral character.
The society reflects our education most of our officials whether in public sector or private sector are corrupt. The assets they have acquired are often several times higher than their known sources of income. We read about income-tax raids or Central Bureau of Investigation raids on the residences of high officials. Wealth amounting to crores of rupees is recovered during these raids. We watch on TV channels the scams that are unearthed after regular intervals. What do these incidents reveal? They reveal that our greed has reached gigantic proportions.
The attitude of government employees has become so indifferent to public that they are not prepared to help. These unscrupulous workers do not work even for 50 per cent of the total hours of their duty. This is nothing but stealth of time. As students they were taught to solve various types of sums or write answers to different types of questions.
They were not taught how to serve the nation. They were not made aware of the happiness that one derives by working honestly and sincerely.
The atmosphere in our schools, colleges and other institutions of education is full of competition. The students are taught to excel one another. Their competition, more often than not, becomes so intense that it leads to rivalries, jealousy and hatred among class-fellows.
While it cannot be denied that competition is necessary to achieve higher goals but is totally undesirable if it breeds ill feelings. Our ancient universities of Nalanda and Patliputra created scholars of great repute like Kautilya in Economics and Susruta in Medicine, but they never used competition among the students to move ahead. Actually, these students were taught by the gurus the feelings of mutual help, of being complementary to one another. There was a spirit of sacrifice for the sake of justice and fair play. That is why our ancient societies were happy and prosperous.
The teachers and other educationists who are concerned with the orientation of syllabi for schools and colleges are of the opinion that the characteristics of honesty, fair play, goodness and helpfulness which are the ingredients of morality cannot be taught as subjects in any educational institution. They are something which a child inherits from the parents and learns from his family, particularly mother and father. So far as religion is concerned it is also something which everyone acquires from one’s family and other members of the community.
India being a secular country, cannot take up religious education in schools and colleges. They argue that, to the extent the moral education can be given in educational institutions, it is given through discipline and punishments for breaking the code of conduct. Any student who steals abuses or hurts others is punished. This is nothing else but imparting of moral education. What these teachers and educationists tend to ignore is that these actions teach only discipline in actions. Evils as they say have large fangs, desires are boundless.
The students need to be told the ultimate consequences of acquiring wealth through illegal means when they grow up and take up some job. For this, moral education needs to be taken up as a subject.
Our life on earth is for a limited period of time. The purpose of human life is not to indulge in luxuries and enjoy the material comforts. They give temporary happiness. The real purpose of life is to develop our spirit in a pure and chaste manner whereby we attain salvation. This is the spiritual lesson which every religion teaches. This is a part of moral education which each faith teaches us. This should be a part of our education. The educationists have an argument to make in this regard also.
They are of the opinion that while framing syllabi for language and literature, the novels, stories, poems and other write-ups of those great religious philosophers are taken which contain this spiritual education. The names of Guru Nanak and Swami Vivekanand are prominent. Among the social reformers the names of Gandhi, Raja Rammohan Roy and others are given.
The works of great scholars are sufficient to develop a sense of justice and fairness among the students. It may be true to some extent but the fact remains that by including the works of great religious men and social reformers in the curriculum helps but little. In the examination, the students have to answer the questions based on the text. There is no examination which tests whether the students have adopted this philosophy-whether they have resolved to act according to the philosophy in their own lives.
Moral values are extremely important for building a society which is free from the evils of violence, greed, hatred, avarice and jealousy. However, high economic growth do we achieve, whatever high amount of wealth do we accumulate, our society will be afflicted by corruption, inequality and perverity if moral education is ignored. India has been a beacon of light for the world for showing others the values of religion and morality. If we have lost our own path, what will we show to the world? We have to start from the grass-roots level to impart moral education on our children. The syllabi at schools and colleges must include this education so that surely, though slowly our society is purged of all evils and we become role models for others. A great responsibility devolves on the teachers to remove the ill feelings of jealousy and hatred from the pupils’ minds. They must teach the students to achieve their goals through hard work. The attitude of fairness and justice developed in childhood and teenage will lay the foundation of responsible citizens.