Dayal Partap Singh Randhawa
Punjab University, Chandigarh, India
Researcher in the Department of Education
|“Full and Equal Opportunity for Education for All”
UNESCO has done commendable work in various fields and education is no exception. The struggle for literacy is, at the same time, a struggle for development, justice, greater equality, respect of cultures and recognition of the human dignity of all and the claim of each to an economic, social and political stance in society and the fruits which derive therefrom. It is that which makes the struggle so difficult; it is also that which makes it so essential and worthwhile.
The above working philosophy of UNESCO rightly points out that the struggle is difficult. So no wonder then that full and equal opportunity of education for all still remains a distant dream.
The illiterate of the deprived and other under-privileged are hardly conscious of existential reality of the situation in which they are placed. They are not aware of the generative sources of disadvantage, handicap and are far less equipped to overcome them. Education in such a situation has to prepare people and involve them in the development process as active partners or participants, not as mute spectators of something which is imposed on them.
Indeed, there have been wide socio-cultural variations and practices. One has to think of a variety of tools, techniques and methodologies appropriate to region or situation. They will have to be evolved through participatory methods and pre-tested before adaptation.
Here one is reminded of the Words of Inspiration by Swami Vivekanand: “Learn everything that is good from others, but bring it in and in your own way absorb it, do not become the other”. He also said, “Learn good knowledge with all devotion from the lowest caste”.
The educational system has traditionally failed the majority of the poor as it teaches values often foreign to them brought over during colonial times. Popular Education is education designed to help people, particularly those who have not traditionally had access to education or lack political power, to develop the skills needed to organise and take control over their own lines.
Popular Education is a method that can prove useful to youth groups and other organisations. It is a way of learning from one’s own experience and analysis, rather than having an “expert teach”.
One is of the confirmed opinion that young people have strong, constructive views about the development of their communities. One is also impressed by their ability to forge international networks of knowledge and opinion through information technology – again, a theme to be borne out in our minds. So the talent and energy is there to be mobilised. Let’s all of us in government, NGOs and the wider community ‘think globally and act locally’ on youth participation for Full and Equal Opportunity for Education for All. There are plenty of examples worth emulating.
Let us all remember that education is a fundamental human right and essential for sustainable human development. Since almost two-thirds of the world’s 110 million children out of school are girls, ensuring their education is a top development priority. The Dakar Goal of Education for All urges nations to eliminate gender or any other disparities and ensure that all have full and equal access to basic education.