After fifty years of so-called development efforts, and despite great
scientific advancements, India (and the rest of the world) finds itself
mired in a paralyzing socio-cultural, environmental and spiritual
crisis - overwhelming in its scale, intensity and rate of growth.
While education has been framed as the cure to this
crisis, in reality, the factory model of schooling is part of the
problem. Around the world, education systems have become commercialized
'businesses' which serve to stratify society, glorify militarism,
devalue local knowledge systems and languages, manufacture unsustainable
wants, breed discontent and frustration, stifle creativity, motivation
and expression, and dehumanize communities. The
19th-century model of factory-schooling today stands in the way
of building organic learning societies for the 21st century.
There is an urgent need to start thinking differently
if we wish to do things differently. This starts with facing the
reality that the problems that threaten to overwhelm and destroy
India arise from the 'schooled', not from the so-called illiterates.
Thus, expanding or reforming the existing system of factory-schooling
(whether through schools, distance education, literacy classes or
non-formal centers) will not solve the crisis.
Rather, communities must engage in new modes of lifelong
societal learning which grow from a larger understanding of and
respect for human potential and human dignity, dynamic learning
processes and relationships, pluralistic identities and cultural
contexts, the human spirit and its connection to the web of life.
The challenge before us then is to engage in processes of transdisciplinary
reflection, dialogue, vision-building and experimentation in order
- provoke, challenge and dismantle factory-schooling and
- construct and connect new open learning communities