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Understanding Scriptures

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 Blooming Stars


            Education is for acquiring knowledge and skills, for purposeful living, and relating with others, and for transferring the best information for future generations. It is for cultivating virtues and values to actualize the human potentials fully, and thus to achieve our human destiny. It is for learning the best current available knowledge in arts and architecture, science and technology in order to become who we are meant to be. Proper education can impart wisdom to bring out the best in humanity for a kinder, gentler, and more compassionate world. It enlightens its recipients removing the darkness of superstitions and ignorance.

            It is not a mere coincidence that I am writing this piece on the feast of Ignatius of Loyola, who in the dark Middle Ages around mid-1600 revolutionized education through his Ratio Studiorum (the reason and purpose of studies/education). The order founded by him, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) have provided the world an all-round education and character formation for about five centuries through the best educational system in the world that I know. It is interesting to note that Rabindranath Tagore studied in St. Xavier’s School, Kolkotta. I may also note that I was very closely associated with the Jesuits, being one of them for about 25 years, in training educators and spiritual leaders. It is in the context of what true education should be that I am going to narrate the pathetic story of miseducation or what education should not be.

            Three days ago I was invited as a trustee of a School for a fare-well get-together for an out-standing headmaster of the school who provided unstinted service to the school for 10 years with very little or no remuneration. He came to our school after retiring from a private, aided school as a headmaster. I was touched by his simplicity, gentleness, humility, and over-all genial and unassuming attitude. His parents were farmers who migrated against all odds to the virgin lands of the High Ranges of Kerala for better financial opportunities for themselves and their children. They managed to give him a good education far away from home, undergoing many financial hardships. Speaking about his early and difficult years as a teacher, he said he had to go out of his native state to find a job as a teacher in a north-western state of India with a different language and culture.

            As he proved to be a good teacher there, he was invited by his home-parish to teach in the government-aided parish school managed by the corporate management of a Catholic diocese. In order for him to teach at that school, his parents had to shell out hard-earned money to build a class room for the school. I was appalled to hear his story. How can such a corrupt system teach any value, give any enlightenment? How can it teach a faith related to justice? How can it represent the teachings of Christ? Later on I came to know that it is not unusual to pay a large amount of money to get an admission into an educational institution or to get a job as a teacher. More than these corrupt and unjust educational institutions, I am grieved by the human status that is so desensitized, numb, and helpless not to question the unjust state of current educational system. Nothing good can come out of an unethical system. What is taking place currently is not education but miseducation.


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