Problems of education and democracy in India
Raichur, SunderRaj Sathianathan
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The object of this dissertation is twofold: First, to discover the place or religion in public education India. Second, to ascertain the degree and kind of freedom and responsibility the public school system has in making available the resources of religion to students. The method or study is historical and comparative. The place of religion in public education in India has been evaluated from the very early times to the present day. The gradual growth at the principle of the separation of church and state, especially as it developed in the United States of America, is traced. The principle was generally accepted by the people by the end of the 19th century. The 20th century baa seen "two main inroads- -incorporation of some parochial schools in the public school system, retaining all the features of a parochial school, and religious education on "released time." It is generally conceded that in a composite state like the U.S.A., with its many nationalities, races, and religions, the impenetrable wall of separation between the church and the state has proved to be highly beneficial to one and all. It has helped to weld together diverse people and has given them a sense of their common nationality. The 17th and 18th century religious intolerance and sectarianism have been greatly minimized. India is also a composite secular state, with many religious groups. The principle of the separation of religion and politics is indispensable for creating national solidarity and inter-group harmony. The first major issue faced in the study is the nature and meaning or religion. There are a wide variety of definitions of religion. It is impossible to secure a general agreement on.the definitions of the term religion. The writer, through a common terminology in religious education, has attempted to state a functional philosophy of religious education. The functional approach to religious education is stated below: Religion operates at two levels--speculative and functional. At the speculative level it deals with various intellectual concepts which go to make a theology, with institutional structures which constitute ecclesiasticism and with practices which form its rites, ceremonies, and festivals. Religion also bears a functional relation to total human experience. It is an integrating process in individual and social living. It is concerned with the practical issues of living--individual well-being and general welfare. It operates in the realm of values. Finally, it is an all-pervasive quality. Religion can be taught in the schools at the functional level but not at the structural level. The functional concept is nothing new to India. Religion is the foundation, the heart and soul of India. In the ancient Hindu educational system, religion was given a central place. It entered into the warp and woof of society. The schools provided a religious environment and spiritual atmosphere where the student could "catch" religion. Islam is also an all-pervasive faith. It is interwoven in the believer's daily life. Religion is central to Islamic education. Religious operations in India, as elsewhere today, are speculative, mechanical, institutional, or superstitious. They are not genuine social functioning. This is due to the gross misunderstanding at the nature or religion. The developmental nature of religion is hardly recognized. The religions of India have remained unaltered now for many centuries. A functional concept of religion will be a great liberating and unifying force. It can lift religious life from a mere mechanical and animal level to a spiritual and cosmic level. The second major issue faced is the nature or learning. The method or teaching in traditional general education and religious education is: indoctrination or secular or sacred knowledge. Knowledge in such an education is an end in itself. Hindu, Moslem, and Christian traditional religious education is characterized by rote learning and oral transmission of sacred knowledge. Students in ancient India spent from sixteen to forty-eight years committing to memory the voluminous Vedas. In modern education, indoctrination is wholly discredited. Students learn with reference to a goal which they set for themselves. All learning is problem solving. Teaching is guiding the learning of students. The subject matter, whether secular or religious, is a means and not an end. The purpose of education is to contribute at the various age levels to the students' preparation for the needs ot every day living. The curriculum is experience-centered. It is focussed upon the needs, interests, and experiences of the students and upon the opportunities, demands, and exigencies or daily living. The teaching-learning cycle is calculated to develop in students those concepts, skills, understandings, and their learning products-ideals, attitudes, appreciations, interests and purposes--which will prepare them. for the situations and activities of life. This, in short, is the functional philosophy of education. Another major issue faced is a constitutional one. The problem under investigation hinges on the right of all persons to profess, practice, and propagate their religion and the principles of freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state (religion and politics). Three assumptions follow from these rights and principles. First, the right of every minority, whether because of religion, community, or language, to maintain its own parochial schools. Second, the right of the state to educate the children or taxpayers in state schools through the elected representatives. Third, the principle or the separation of church and state in practice means keeping religion and politics apart. It means an impenetrable wall of separation. between the two at the structural level, but not at the functional. Religion is central to all cultures. Functional religion is coterminous with life. A comparative study of the legal position of religious education in the U. S. A. and India is made. The. legal position. in the U. S. A. is confusing and contradictory. The U. S. Supreme Court in a recent; case (Mrs. Vasti McCollum v. the Champaign, Ill., Board of Education) declared the released time program there to be illegal. The question whether all released time religious education is legal or not is yet to be decided. The Draft Constitution of India has declared that there will be no religious education in the state schools. Private schools are allowed to organize religious instruction outside of school hours. But no student should be required to take part in such instruction. A minor may take part in such instruction with the permission of his parent or guardian. The practical question of the degree and kind of freedom and responsibility that the schools should have in teaching religion depends on the local community end its sensitivity to state laws. There are wide varieties of proposals and practices both in India and the U. S. .A. They reflect the thinking of two main groups the religious sects and the secularists. The proposals and practices of religious sects and sectarians may be grouped under six headings: 1. Adopt a system ot parochial schools for each denomination group, in place of the public school system. 2. Provide sectarian religious education in the public schools by employing teachers of various faiths in proportion to the number of pupils professing such faiths. 3. Provide a full afternoon each week for sectarian religious education on "dismissed time" at no cost to that public school. 4. The present arrangement of religion on "released time" should continue. 5. Let the public schools teach a "common core" of religious belief and practice. 6. Integrate the study of religion into the various school subjects. Proposals from the Secularists: 1. Teach a "common core" or ethics. 2. Teach democracy as religion. The various varieties or proposals and practices in India are included in the above categories. These proposals are not mutually exclusive. The accepted policy may have the best features of all the proposals or some of them. The following ten basic standards have emerged out or this study. Any proposal or practice which meets these standards may approximate a solution fair to the child who is the center of interest and also to the claims of the church (religious sects) and the state. 1. The principle of the separation of church and state (religion and politics) must be maintained. 2. It is the duty of the state to maintain a public school system where there is complete separation or the church and the state (religion and politics). 3. Freedom of religion demands tha right of any private agency to maintain its own parochial schools without any aid or tax money, except for state aid for the so-called "'welfare services". 4. The public schools should recognize that religion is a vital part of any culture. It should be integrated in "the program of studies at the functional level. 5. It is the duty or the religious sects to teach their scriptures, ways or worship, and prayer. 6. Religious education must take into consideration the nature and the child and the nature or the growth process. 7. Religious education must take into consideration the nature of the learning process and the teaching-learning cycle. 8. A public school is not irreligious; on the contrary, it is a great character building agency. 9. The dichotomy of the religious and secular can be removed by a functional concept of religion. 10. Lastly, it is the duty of everyone concerned to help tha growing generations to think for themselves and arrive at independent and responsible conclusions, using the highest operational values in the total culture as the criteria. The proposals and practices of the religious sects and of the secularists, in their present form, do not meet these standards. They violate one or more of them. The most popular program is religion on released time. It is generally conceded that it has not been effective in practice. There does not seem to be any correlation between such instruction and resulting conduct. It has not sensitized them to sociological processes. Finally, it has not helped them to be better citizens. The functional approach to religion in public education meets the ten basic standards. It is not proposed that it shou1d be taught as a separate subject. Ten areas of experience are selected. There is no finality about the number or the kind or experiences possible. Wherever and whenever these kinds of experiences are being developed there is religion in action. These experiences are found in the various subjects and in the total experience of the student, both in the school and outside. They are found at all age levels, and in the experience of people professing all faiths or no faith. Ten categories are as follows: 1. The dignity and worth or human personality. 2. Social sensitivity and social good will. 3. Sacriticing lower values for higher values. 4• The law of teamwork. s. Personal responsibility and accountability. 6. A scientific view of man and the universe. 7. Participation in national celebrations. 8. The spirit or progress. 9. General welfare and the common good. 10. Experiments in Truth and realizing a hierarchy of values. The following social faith proposed by the writer in another study is incorporated. The articles of faith represent the spirit of democracy and democracy as a way of life. Democracy is functional religion in action. A Common Social Faith in India 1. The dignity and worth or the individual human being must be recognized. 2. Free men and women or India liberated from political, social, and economic tyranny can and should rule themselves. 3. All minorities, whether based on religion, community, or language, should be respected and valued. 4. India, with its rich natural resources and great cultural heritage, belongs to one and all. 5. The method of non-violence, as demonstrated by Mahatma Gandhi, is superior to war. 6. Individual and community differences must, be settled through peaceful persuasion and not war. 7. General welfare should precede that of an individual or minority group, whether based on religion, community, or language. In addition to these doctrines, the following loyalties are proposed: The citizen of India is loyal: First, to himself as an individual of surpassing worth. Second, to the country first and then to the majority or minority community to which he belong. Third, to the supremacy of general welfare. Fourth, to the democratic method of peace. Fifth, to the principle of justice, liberty, equa1ity, and fraternity. Sixth, to the principle or the dignity of labor and the right to work. Seventh, to the ideal of efficiency guiding the selection of men and women in all government services. Eighth, to the ideal of national self-respect. Ninth; to the principle or cooperation in all fields of socially useful endeavor. Tenth, to a code or ethics in action in all walks of life. The following areas or social knowledge and social thought may be integrated into the social studies program: 1. Knowledge about the nature or man and the nature of the universe. 2. Knowledge of the long struggle to liberate the human mind and civilize the human heart. 3. Knowledge of the weakness and strength or Indian democracy. 4· Knowledge of the nature of totalitarianism, capitalism, socialism, and communism. 5. Knowledge about the aims and work of the United Nations. Proposed Auxiliary Agencies 1. 4-H Clubs for rural India. 2. Junior Achievement for the cities of India. 3. Student summer camps. 4. A National Conference of Hindus, Moslems, and Others to work for inter-group harmony. 5. A School of Religion to carry on research in Indian religions. Functional religion should be articulated and integrated in the total experience of students.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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