Dated June 16, 2018
"Education" might not be the correct word for what I want to share right now.
How about "Education System"[?] There might be a few people who would agree that current education system is doomed. We are taught "what" instead of learning "why". And it is important to maintain a balance between the two. However, many people are dissatisfied with the current education system for providing "knowledge" in a bad way and not doing enough for creativity.
[A] few months ago, I read a tweet: "Only things missing from Indian education system are 'education' and 'system'".
However, what students are given in the name of education—this isn't the thing bothering me.
I wonder how many [people] believe "education is truly important". An overwhelming majority will say it *is* important, but after answering that question, a lot would question themselves—"Is it true?" [The second thoughts about this] is due to the fact that they were not satisfied with the quality of education the received. Frankly, how many of [us] want to go to college for getting knowledge? I did, for one subject. One subject in the last four semesters!
I am not even motivated to go to college because I feel I could learn more things in a better way on my own, through the resources.
Learning. From the resources available at my disposal.
It is easy to complain (though one should) when we have resources to cover up.
But everyone is not privileged enough. I want to know the meanings of "learning", "understanding", "education" and "privilege", but that is for another day.
We have the "right to education" in India. Our constitution grants that as a fundamental right.
But education just for the namesake is going no good to anyone. Though subjective, it should be "right to quality education".
This evening, I met a person on the way to [the] nearby supermarket. He was selling vegetables to collect money to pay school fees. He asked me to buy something [from him]. He had tomatoes and some other vegetables. And his voice made it clear, his eyes made it clear. The way he said "Anna!" made it clear. They wanted money as soon as possible to pay for the school fees so that the person would receive education and live a better life.
It is easy for us to denounce our education system—but somehow, all the education we had received is the reason we can have these thoughts and opinions [in] the first place.
I never hated going to school, or said "I don't want to go to school"—I had attendance greater than 90%. But did I ever stop by, and appreciate having a chance to learn and [for] enough resources—I have been very fortunate. [A] few months ago, I felt that I was wasting my dad's money, as this was not working out. I can't deal with this education system.
But there are people who are willing to do anything they possibly can, to receive education, (for themselves or for their siblings, or children, or other relatives). Some of us were told to "study well". Those who told us this wanted us to make the most of this opportunity to receive an education—those people valued education. They either did not get a chance to, or had other problems, including monetary[,] that affected them.
But the fact that there are so many people willing to take a chance to learn; doesn't that make the education providers, the government and everyone in power to make changes [to] do something about it?
If it is a fundamental right of every Indian, why do I not find changes in the better direction?
Two years ago, I went to a school in a rural area in Rajasthan. There were more than 20 students, but the school was no better than ruins. We used to complain about the benches, lights, timetables, teachers and almost everything. This school had no electricity or proper boards. Even the supply of drinking water was not up to the mark. Two teachers, students from class 3 to 8 (that I know of) but these students had a will to learn. Even though looking at the resources and even the books, I had given up—accepting that the census will list these students as literates, but this [form of education] may not bring a real change—an effective progress.
I know that most of the things that I do on Wikimedia projects is benefiting only those [who are] privileged enough, with the resources. We call it "free knowledge culture" but will we ever make an impact in helping everyone[?]
I feel we [all] could do more. And if we can, we should!
I may not be the first person to point out that by buying from supermarkets, we are profiting the companies, which aren't going to lose anything if we don't buy one kilogram of tomatoes from them.
Actually, I am not even attempting to. This is not an enterprise vs people, who need our help (by we, buying from them). It is not the universal case and the comparison is just insulting them. At the end of the day, any human, who has ever lived, was due to the sun being the only source of energy and how much the human took from the nature (subject to what was morally and ethically "correct")
But the fact that there are so many people who never had the resources we had—these people had the will to learn; and those (including me and & anyone who can read this) with the resources, to give them a chance to learn.
No matter how small the contribution seems, help as much as you can. Do not shy away from not helping others because you feel it might not make any significant difference. You don't know that. The only way to know is to help those people.
In a conversation, John Shutt told me, "I learned from my father, always leave things better than you found them."
I should apply that to anything and everything that I do.
The vegetable vendor spoke to me in Kannada, and I don't understand it [Kannada]. But when we want to convey something to the person in front of us, "language barrier" is not a barrier. Fortunately, I had some cash and my [ATM] card. He insisted me to buy the vegetables, but instead of tomatoes, I took home the lesson that [any] person who needs your help—they might be in a need of something more than you could possibly give. But even if you can not give your 100%, help them.
The education system may be far from being perfect, but we still need it. Everyone needs it. And nobody in the idealistic state should be deprived of it. Let's make development in the direction of that eutopia.
Regarding the vegetable vendor:
I had parked my cycle in-front of the supermarket. I saw a woman asking the cashier for change. I thought she bought some vegetables from this vendor but none of them had change. But then, the vegetable vendor calls me and says, "Anna!…" I could not understand what he was saying. And I told him that I did not understand Kannada. But somehow he managed to convey the message, asking me to buy some vegetables from him to collect money for school fees.
I searched my pockets, and I had some notes—usually I carry only the card. I wanted to help him, because these things should not prevent anyone from having a chance to study. I gave him the money, and he insisted that I buy some vegetables in return. I could not tell him that I could do nothing with the vegetables.
I don't know how to articulate about this. —It is that they are ready to offer something in return of money and not 'free money'. They gave me a lesson. To be thankful for the chances, and opportunities I had, and never had to face the hardships. To make sure we do as much as we can, to make sure others get a chance. Because if one can, one should.
I never had to wait in line for water, each morning, or do household work, or make money to pay for the fees. I had never faced those hardships, though I was always told about. There are people who had to look behind their younger siblings, cook food for them, do chores along with the study—that too, for primary education. Not college. These are the people with strong will power. And it is such a shame that these people do not get a chance.
This might be a coincidence, but exactly one year ago, on June 16, I heard this:
Don't fear failure. Be afraid of not having the chance. You have the chance.
Well, if we have the chance, let's make sure others get an opportunity, too.