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May 19, 2019 Sunday 06:49:55 PM IST

Education To Ignite Minds, To Enlighten, Foster Creativity and Empowerment

By Amala Menon

 India, one among the most watched emerging economies, is also a land of opportunity. The strength of the nation and the future lies in the hands of the youth. “If we release the locked potential in every child, there is nothing that India cannot achieve.” -A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

 When I was in third grade in the Global Indian International School (GIIS Singapore) I got the opportunity to meet the former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He made a special visit to my school to interact with the students. In the auditorium he made us recite the Greek hymn “When there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character; when there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home; when there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation and when there is peace in the nation, there is peace in the world.”

 According to Dr. Abdul Kalam, the most important persons in a child’s development are his parents and primary school teacher. He said, “Each of you will have wings of fire to fly. This will lead you to knowledge.” He concluded his speech with “Knowledge makes you great.” I was so thrilled when each of us received a copy of the book “Wings of Fire” by Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam.

Students need to define and create their own paths if they want to become unique persons. There are four steps to attain uniqueness. The first and foremost is to have a great aim or clear objective in life. They also need to  acquire knowledge continuously, work hard towards objectives and persevere towards their goal.

What is the purpose of education to the society?

Education is an endless journey through knowledge and enlightenment. An educated society makes sure that the younger generations are also literate. Literate parents are most likely to send their wards to schools.

The only hope for the development of the nation lies in the education of its people. Law and order will be maintained in an educated society. Social and financial needs for its members can be provided by an educated society.

A literate group of people have higher self-esteem and can access good facilities and living standards. There is more awareness about health and hygiene in a literate society. Educated individuals are more likely to take unbiased and wise decisions in choosing their political representatives thus leading to the nation’s growth. Protecting the environment and the importance of conservation can be better understood by a literate society.

An educated society does not discriminate between genders and equal opportunity is given to all. Social and economic development can happen only if there is gender neutrality. “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”

 How should the 21st century learning be like?

Students should contribute to the nation’s economic growth.  The education system should be based on five components: research and enquiry, creativity and innovation, capacity to use high-end technology, entrepreneurship and moral leadership.

Students should be imparted with skills so that they find their way through the sea of knowledge. Through technology, we can become life long learners, which is a skill for sustained economic development. We must learn to work in groups as this helps in managing knowledge effectively. It’s important that students use the latest technologies to aid their learning process. Students should be curious and self motivated to learn new technologies. From the beginning itself the aptitude for entrepreneurship should be cultivated in the child. Risks and Challenges should be taken as it makes a person stronger. The ability to have a compelling and powerful dream or vision for the betterment of the society as well to do the right thing and influence others to do the same is moral leadership. 

 “An investment in education pays the best.” - Benjamin Franklin

 But is this education making students stressed and worried about failure in life?

In the Indian educational system, students go through many exams that help students to analyse their strengths and weaknesses. There is heavy competition that unleashes a student’s full potential. Most students memorize the facts rather than thoroughly understanding the concept. There is no freedom to think creatively and students rely on textbooks. Textbooks do not mention the relevance of the topic in practical life. There is a current obsession for marks among students.

Taking example of a famous personality, Albert Einstein who used to study in a German school. He liked history but he found no point in learning dates when they were always available in the books. His teacher shouted at him and sent him home, as he was a disgrace to the school. Einstein didn’t want to learn things by heart rather he wanted to study subjects that interest him. He was brilliant at mathematics and his maths teacher gave him a recommendation letter for higher studies in maths. His teacher explained that he was wasting time here and that Einstein knew more than the teacher.

 "Every young person wants to be unique. But the world all around is doing its best, day and night, to make each of them just like everybody else." - A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

 Our attitude towards marks and grades needs to change. Logical thinking and creativity have to be encouraged by teachers. “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.”- Benjamin Franklin

 Practical education is more important than theoretical as it helps retain the knowledge acquired in our mind, helps in better understanding, improves skills, involves application and deals with real life situations.

 We might not always succeed in life. Some times we face failures in life. This does not mean that we give up. Its important to understand that failure can teach us a lot more than success.

 Most people would have experienced failure in their life some time or the other. The fear of failing prevents us from moving ahead in life. Hence we are unable to make progress in life. Valuable lessons can be learnt from these failures and we would have a better future.

 Taking example of Ferruccio Lamborghini who was the owner of a tractor manufacturing company. He was fond of luxury cars such as Ferrari but he was frustrated about the inferior quality and mechanical problems. So he decided to complain to Enzo Ferrari the owner of Ferrari. Enzo just said “The problem is not with the car but with the driver!” and advised him to continue his tractor business. Taking this as a challenge, through years of toil and perseverance he succeeded in manufacturing Lamborghini, one of the most extravagant cars in the world. Hard work and perseverance can help us reach our goal. We need to face failure and breed success.

Jobs that existed in the past might not exist in the future so it’s important to develop basic skills in the student. The education system must challenge creative minds in order to make India socially and technologically developed country. 

(Photo: Dr A P J Abdul Kalam with the primary school students of Global Indian International School, Singapore where he visited on 27th August, 2008 when the author was a student of the institution)


Amala Menon

Amala Menon is a Second-year B.Tech Computer Science student of Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology (RSET). She had the opportunity to study in different countries. This has helped her adapt to different cultures and environments. Her interests are in dance and music.

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