Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Need to reimagine education to bring peace

The world is getting even more VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous), which requires reimagining, redefining, and relaying the learning ethos

Published: May 23, 2024 05:24:43 PM IST
Updated: May 23, 2024 12:02:23 PM IST

Need to reimagine education to bring peaceWith the largest young population, India can also play a crucial role in global education that breeds sustainability. Image: Sandra Calligaro/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Malala Yousafzai was 11 years old when she gave her first speech, “How Dare The Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to Education?” This was September 1, 2008, and by the end of 2008, the Taliban announced that all girls’ schools in Svat Valley in Pakistan would be shut down on January 15, 2009. Her protest continued, and the struggle became more intense despite the support from various human rights organisations and international media. By October 2011, she had been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. In December 2011, she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, later renamed ‘the National Malala Peace Prize’. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and graduated from Oxford University. But peace continues to elude the Svat Valley, Pakistan and the region under the Taliban.

Reimagining Education to Bring Peace

Peace seems elusive in large parts of the world today despite decades of emphasis on education. Long-standing belief about a high positive correlation between education and peace erodes as European nations are engaged in war. The Middle East is up at arms. Israel and Iran both have more than 90 percent literacy and are not at peace. Where have things gone wrong? Education is necessary to bring peace, but it needs reimagination. New insecurities have popped due to the information glut in the digital world. The philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, ‘The world is one family’, needs to be blended in education. The war-ravaged world is seeing a resurgence of India that imparts balance to the otherwise shaky geopolitics. Bibi, Biden and Putin are all eager to have warm relations with India. Today, India represents stability and a crucial component of world peace. Many corporate leaders believe India to form crucial part of global supply chains. With the largest young population, India can also play a crucial role in global education that breeds sustainability. India is reimagining governance, and the world needs to do that, too. Reimagining governance requires reimagining the process of students’ graduation.

Someone said that the generation expected to earn a pension for you is busy chasing Pokemons. Distractions are rising, and so is the attention deficit. The irony is that digitisation that powers new global growth is also responsible for decaying attention spans. Gloria Mark, Chancellor’s Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, is a PhD from Columbia University in psychology. Having done extensive research on the impact of digital media on people’s lives, she says that over the past couple of decades, people’s attention spans have shrunk in measurable ways. She asserts that the internet and digital devices have affected our ability to focus; multitasking is stressful, and understanding the science of attention can help us regain our focus. Does our education system cater to these challenges? The world is getting even more VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous), which requires reimagining, redefining, and relaying the learning ethos.

Bringing back rationality

International Education Day, 2023, kept the theme ‘To Invest In People, Prioritise Education’. It was dedicated to all the girls and women in Afghanistan who have been denied their right to learn, study and teach. In 2024, the world unites under the banner ‘Learning For Lasting Peace’, recognising the threats of hate speeches, intolerance and calls for violence. The philosophy Sarve Bhuvantu Sukhinah implies, “May everyone be happy, may everyone be healthy, may everyone see what is favourable, and may no one suffer,” which needs to be the essence of education. It is believed that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can’t be achieved without the universal provision of good education. Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler and many other economists and psychologists have found various instances where human beings don’t show rational behaviour. They say that inherent biases tend to deviate humans from rational behaviour. In their book Nudge, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein show that people often take unintentional actions contrary to expectations from a new policy introduced to bring a desired change. Years of attempts to bring education to all in India have failed to a large extent.

The recent Annual Survey of Education Report says that many 14-18-year-olds lack foundational literacy and numeracy skills. Additionally, the report suggests reorienting teaching methods to enable students to apply academic concepts to real-life situations. This can be achieved by using behavioural concepts like ‘choice architecture,’ which tends to provide a nudge towards the desirable goal with a ‘libertarian paternalism’ approach. The behavioural approach can help achieve the education goals, the SDGs, and the much-required peace on this beautiful planet.

Dr. V. P. Singh, Director, PGDM & Professor - Managerial Economics & Statistics