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 to:

  1. provoke, challenge and dismantle factory-schooling and
  2. construct and connect new open learning communities

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