Adil Hussain Bhat
Education has such power that it can change the destiny of an entire society. Education has assumed greater importance in today’s information-driven society. Educational institutions prepare the young generation for their future role in society, but in Kashmir the young generation is either sliding back into the dark past of ignorance or moving ahead in the dark without aim or direction. This is due to the frequent and prolonged shutdowns of educational institutions, especially since the summer of 2016. The crisis is only likely to worsen in the coming days.
Educational institutions are not established for fulfilling only material needs of society. They have to instil values and ideas that can preserve society and transmit culture, form rounded personalities, integrate individuals in society, reform attitudes, develop creativity and constructive ideas, eradicate social evils and inequality. The founding father of sociology, Emile Durkheim, said that education means “the socialisation of the younger generation.” In our contemporary society, the family tends to leave much undone in the socialisation process, so the role falls to educational institutions. But since 2016, educational institutions are unable to fulfil that role in Kashmir, because much of the time they are closed.
The second-most important function that educational institutions perform is the transmission of cultural heritage, which includes beliefs, art, literature, philosophy, religion, music and so on. These are not carried forward through the mechanism of heredity. In Kashmir, though, students are not even able to complete their academic curriculum, so matters like culture are least of anybody’s concerns.
The third failure that is leading us to a social disaster is the failure to form a well-rounded social personality. This personality formation can only be done by educational institutions. But when pupils are unable to attend schools regularly, how it is possible for them to develop a social personality? Integration of individual with society is a must to develop social personality. In the old societies, this function was performed by religion, but now educational institutions do so. The family may fail to provide the child knowledge of social skills and values, but the school will enable the child to learn new skills and learn to interact with people of different social backgrounds. Alienation of students from educational institutions will lead them to deviance. Kashmir is already facing a social disaster in the form of deviance of the young generation towards vices like drugs and crime.
One of the main non-material needs of society is a reformation of attitudes, as mentioned by F.J. Brown and J.S. Roucek. A student may be harbouring a host of prejudices, jealousies, illogical ideas and false notions. These can be reformed by a good education. Reformation of attitudes is also necessary to achieve good health, leisure, vocation and social life. It makes a person creative and constructive. It develops open-mindedness and logical thinking. It also enables us to criticise social patterns. The ability to think critically is essential for social progress. Educational institutions prepare an individual for active participation in social activities, so that both the individual and the society grow and progress.
The present lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic has affected every institution of society. The two most important institutions of society, religion and education, are completely banned in this lockdown. These two institutions are most important for the integration of individuals with society. The administration must consult with educationists has to frame a policy suited to the situation in Kashmir.
The writer is a student of Kashmir University. [email protected]