By Anubha Gautum
Edited by Nanditha Singh, Senior editor, The Indian Economist
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela was right in in a sense when he said that, but some people have managed to change the world without the tool of education. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for instance, are both college dropouts, and Dhirubhai Ambani, who took the business world by storm, was no Harvard graduate either. There are many influential people who have made it big in academic and non-academic fields even though they stumbled through, or even dropped out of, high school. The generally accepted definition of ‘being educated’ entails one having received a degree from school or university. This is what is often implied when we call a person educated, but the significant question here is whether we can call the people who do not possess such degrees as being absolutely and definitely uneducated. It is not only the definition of education that needs to be revamped, but the educational institutions themselves, along with our perception of the so called uneducated.
When we challenge this definition of education given by social institutions, we should begin by questioning what education give us except for a degree. Many would answer with the following things – a fancy college name on our résumé, the ability to have a certain kind of academic perspective on various disciplines, rationality, familiarity with history and cultures; geography and ways of the world, along with a more expansive knowledge of the disciplines we take up. I wonder however, that how many of us are able to achieve all this only via education, or rather if we actually achieve it at all? In my opinion, it is not only the fault of the students who fancy the name of a prestigious institution on their degrees and in the process overlook the relevance of their course, but also of the structure and framework of the education system itself. These problems and doubts further blur the lines between the educated and uneducated.
A keen follower of YouTube would know that many fun surveys undertaken to test the general knowledge of the masses in India exposed towards their unawareness and ignorance. Simple questions about sports, country capitals and currency, left them mum and embarrassed. Today education is such that only the elite and rich people enjoy its fruits, as it has more to do with spending than enlightening. If we talk about India specifically, then we must consider the fact that a large number of our members of parliament are not educated, and our most successful businessmen, programmers and entrepreneurs have blossomed their careers without the aid of education, while the ‘educated’ sections of society are busy being servants in the public or private sector and earning a meager salary. Does education lead us to an average life with restricted resources and no fame? Is it synonymous with being middle class and being caught up in the class struggle?
The one thing education is supposed to contribute towards is the widening of our perspective, but many educated people are as rigid, orthodox and unaccepting as an uneducated person is expected to be. Over the years, the spirit of education, especially in India, has been reduced to a farce, and Delhi University’s laughable attempt at the Four Year Undergraduate Programme bears testimony to the fact. Despite what institutions deem the academic courses to be, or how they choose to structure them, the power to uphold or diminish the value of their degrees lies in the hands of the educated masses, so who is the culprit?
Anubha is a 2nd year student of English Honors in Maitreyi College, DU. She is an enthusiastic writer, debater and feminist. Following the trends of market, economy society observing and analyzing them are one of her favorite occupations. She has been associated with writing and other ancillary fields since her childhood, obsessed with English and writing, she aims to become a successful writer in near future. In her free time she loves to play Sudoku and learn new things.