By Irfan Gul
Every nation or society, consciously or unconsciously, always finds itself involved in the socialization of its people. Naturally this starts in childhood, and schools or educational institutions plays an important and critical role in this process. Iqbal stressed that people do not develop in isolation, but for their proper nourishment and for enrichment of their qualities they need society and community. It is precisely the reason that the role of schools and society in fostering the development of moral citizens in any society necessitates focus on moral development, ethics and related character development like humanity and human values.
In every society all sort of human behavior is not acceptable. There are some norms which are against morals. These norms have social or religious sanction behind them. Legally, though you cannot be penalized for breach of some of these norms but still you have to abide these norms as they define your personality and character in society. The conduct of a person in social life is governed by a morality, human values and ethics.
to Socrates, “Ethics concerns no small matter, but how we ought to live”. Earlier, it used to be the kinship and society were agents of inculcating the moral laws, ethics and humanity to younger generations but now these virtues are even shrinking in these institutions which has left a huge responsibility on the education system and teachers. The role of Education institutions and a teacher is not only to complete the curriculum but also to inculcate the ethical values which are essential for a healthy and progressive society.
Iqbal was of the serious opinion that modern education has done a great disservice and injustice on new generation by only trained individuals mentally and superficially, and least bothered about moral & character development, growth of the soul, spiritual progress, chaste of morals of an individual. He was of the firm belief that reformation and revival of society was the responsibility of teachers as they were the most influential people. He felt anguish and disillusioned of modern education. For Allama Iqbal, young people are like eaglets and it is the responsibility of the teachers and the educational system to give them the strong wings to rise high.
Iqba, somehow viewed modern education as superficial, and worthless. But, Allama Iqbal was not against modern education. In his view, education should aim for both materialistic gains like, to secure a job, status and a means for living as well as for enhancing knowledge and for spiritual development like understanding the true meaning of life and developing the Selfhood of students. The educational system and teachers need to undertake the responsibility of building the character of pupil through lesson on ethics, morality, humanity, spirituality and the inner self. It will help pupils in soaring high and make strong society full of devotion, humanism, affectionate and helpful to each other. We don’t need simply a doctor but aspire a good human to become a doctor as he/she will be more sympathetic and affectionate towards his patients. Similarly, we need a good human being to become teacher as he/she will do justice with students
Although Plato’s Republic is best known for its definitive defense of justice, it also includes an equally powerful commentary on education. Plato believed that the key to a successful society is a strong educational system. The purpose of education according to Plato is to nurture good citizens for the benefit of society and to improve the moral quality of each citizen. It is a common belief that a person is not in proper sense until he is educated as it is only education which trains the human mind to think rationally and make the right decisions in all circumstances.
In the real sense, education serves its purpose only when besides other things it also inculcates morality and humanity among learners. But, the aim of modern education as Gandhi puts it, is to provide only such education that would enable the student to earn more. It hardly gives any thought to the improvement of the character of the educated. Traditional values, character development, virtues and moral ethics are shrinking in modern education as no effort is being made for the nourishment of these values. That is perhaps why the present generation has lost the values and old generation has lost the respect.
We should not separate modern education from moral education. In fact, both types of education can go concurrently in harmony with each other. Allama Iqbal believed that a society could not progress if it did not have progressive and enlightened teachers. He viewed teachers as role models who have the responsibility of bringing out the best in their students – not only academically but also at all levels of personal development. For this, he expects teachers to come to the level of the students, understand their needs and inculcate in them ethics and values necessary for the reformation of a society.
Education is actually the means to achieve truthfulness, improve oneself and to serve the people. But, the ultimate aim of modern education system has become to prepare an individual for employment and jobs. It hardly cares about the moral development of an individual. The present day education system only addresses the material needs and completely ignores the moral aspect of an individual. It does not recognize the inner needs of an individual. The religious and moral education has been ignored for the sake of maintaining secular image. Plato viewed education as the only safeguard against the abuse of power and an attempt to touch the evil at its source and to reform the wrong ways of living by altering the whole outlook in life. In today’s world education is spreading at a very rapid pace but are crimes diminishing? Have we been able to stop the abuse of power and have we been able to stop corruption. The answer is absolutely not. This suggests that modern education serves no purpose other than manufacturing individuals for jobs and services.
Education is indeed a social process and as such, it is also the way to the vision of absolute truth and that vision is a vision of the individual soul. Education, in Plato’s metaphor, results in the turning of ‘inward eye’ towards the light and it does so because the teacher gets the light to catch the eye. But, Alas, for secularism we have shunned moral and religious education in schools. Moral education is seen as challenge to secularism and it has vanished from educational system. So, the need of the hour is to have both types of education which will develop individual morally, mentally and spiritually. Then, we can dream of a society in which individuals will enjoy each other’s generosity and share human values.
— The author works for Pratham Education Foundation –an NGO-as District Resource Leader (DRL) for District Pulwama. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org