Saturday, February 02, 2008

Literacy versus Education

The first thing that people tend to query you about when you say that you are from Kerala is about the 100% literacy concept which has been given so much of publicity, that now its become a bane - Kerala gets the least priority for most developmental projects because people sitting in other parts of the country think that its such an advanced state that does not need any help.

But everyday life in Kerala (you just need to spend a few hours in fact) tells you a different story - the story about how literacy is so vastly different from education. There are many parallels you can draw to prove this. For one, you could say most of our political leaders are only literate, but not at all educated. Or you could argue that reading and writing your own name is literacy, but reading and writing someone else's name is education. I could say that one can drive if you are literate, but disciplined driving needs education. Treating your mother and sister well needs literacy, but treating someone elses mother and sister like your own needs education. There are many more examples I can think could also simply look around and wonder what the difference is..

Pic courtesy - Cosmet Surgeon via email

I am not sure if the above signage is located in Kerala or elsewhere, but it was too hilarious and one couldnt drive home the point any better.

Lets just hope our schools and colleges start focussing on education rather than initiate our youth into politics. I hope we soon have a government with the sense and knowledge to understand the value of education, than just gloat on the literacy tag, and hopefully will have the courage to ban political affiliations in schools and colleges of Kerala. Or soon we will be a state with a 100% uneducated tag.

I would like to add that the message here is not the picture (which was just to add some fun), but the fact is that Kerala's much acclaimed education and development models have stagnated to a pathetic extent over the last 10-15 years, and is nothing to be proud of any more.


J Short said...

Rather than seeing literacy and education as something completely different, I think it is important to view them as linked, where one is required before the other. Both literacy and education can be learned, but literacy first. It is impossible to become educated without first developing literacy. I don't pretend to know or understand the politics of education in Kerala, but I do know that there should be much more than simply lerning facts and dates. College, instead, is a place for your brain to grow. It is a place to teach one how to look at something and how to develop one's own opinions. It should not be a place where you are brainwashed and if that is the current state in Kerala, I am sorry and feel that should be changed. But there are religious and politically affiliated institutions here in the US and while mixed with a certain agenda. These institutions still teach its students though how to think and draw their own opinions. An agenda is unimportant so long as the institution still proselytizes critical thinking skills.

MC said...

@short - hi short, nice to have you here..that is pretty much my point too. i think it is education that will give students the power to think on their own rather than be "brainwashed" into believing things rather than reasoning it out themselves. i didnt mean we need to be educated without being literate, which is obviously impossible.

have you visited Kerala? its a beautiful state. write to me in case you are visiting. we can have coffee together.

silverine said...

I have seen this photo. It was put up at some falls in TN I think :p

You are right about Kerala getting step motherly treatment from the Centre. I remember as a kid catching a flight to Kochi from Blr. There was a mallu politician fighting with the IA staff because the Boeing had no overhead lockers. He was shouting that all these useless junk aircrafts were sent to Kerala. A merry debate started with people expressing amazement that the State with the max immigrant population had only two regular trains connecting it to the outside world. Ask an expat mallu what it is like to reach home for Onam, Christmas etc and you will know how much neglected we are inspite of contributing so much in remittances. Ever seen a strike or bundh for more trains, planes etc?

Madhavan said...

@mc - another good piece of writing. Kerala has only achieved 100% literacy -quantity wise. Quality wise our standard of education is pathetic. A friend of mine who runs a Travel Agency in Kerala recently interviewed candidates for the front office job. Most of the candidates were MA EnglishLiterature PG holders; but they could hardly speak a proper sentence in English.
Long live Kerala's Campus Politics, while the clever politicians will have their children educated in the UK& US

MC said...

@ silverine - lol..TN is it? i couldnt stop laughing..after reading the sign, i cant help wonder why there are no nude-beaches in india. i mean, what if they put up a similar sign at one of the beaches? problem!!

i have seen strikes and bandhs in front of trains..where the "activists" lie down on the railway track or attach themselves all over the engine like leeches. funny sight..

the other side of the neglect issue is that most of the funds and grants from the center and international agencies are wasted by kerala every year. this is because the government is either unable to comprehend development, or do not want development, or get stuck in petty politics. as a result, so many crores go unutilized every year - this is supposedly one (or one MORE) reason why kerala is getting neglected.

@ madhavan - very true about the quality of education. today we have postal courses for every single degree. almost every graduate in kerala will also have a computer course certificate saying he or she is qualified in C++ (about which they have no clue at all).

i think almost everyone is sending their kids out of kerala for education now - at least at some level.

Jackson said...

a very relevant post.. i suppose the whole point of education in kerala has now been diluted to the point of 'go for engineering/medicine, it will fetch you a job and social status' where students mindlessly opt for these courses because its socially unacceptable to have a good academic performance in school and study something like arts or commerce.. by the way, social status is a non-existent thing for engineers nowadays, and commerce is actually quite big outside kerala.. and, a good academic performance in school is more often than not the result of more of the same spoonfeeding in school and tuition classes..
and the standard of education.. while such a thing did once exist in kerala, now the teachers barely teach anything and for the students its just a matter of mugging up whatever is in the textbooks and getting through the exams..
its no wonder we can't find any good, motivated teachers anymore when 1) the best (and a lot of the rest) get snapped up by private firms and, 2) those that do survive the educational system in kerala are usually so irrevocably corrupted by it themselves that they follow the same apathetic ways if/when they become educators..
as one who went through the same engineering-->software-job route himself, it would be hypocritical of me to suggest that someone else not do the same and think for themselves about what they really want, but then, who would listen anyway??

Sumaesh P said...

Todays education sector in GOC is the result of a master plan by the marxists who very strategically took over the very right to independent thought from the minds of all our teachers.

One has to just look around our country ,you will find such great educationlists,who are from kerala who are principals and professors of institutions that have marked their name in education.

Ask them why they left GOC in their prime,they would say -less qualified 'party ' backed teachers were inducted to be on par with them .So when the going gets tough the tough get going,with other states like goa ,TN,Delhi waiting with folded arms to welcome talent ,they din't find any need to stay.With this strategy,the marxists not only demolished the source of independent thoughts,but also achieved to install a party oriented teaching faculty,that would bring in the much needed grass roots,which has made it what it is today-the largest business firm in kerala .
This explains why a party cadre is such a vital asset to the party that if he or she desserts it for any reason,they need to be prepared for their end-socially and sometimes physically,You guys must have noticed the Aversion of comrades towards guys who want look for jobs especially those going to the middle east.

silverine said...

For the original picture go here!

Karthik said...

This reminds of the dialouge by Srennivasan in the malayalam film "Sandesham".."EE 100% saksharata karanama nammude party election-il thottahu..alukalkku vivaram vacchu thudangiyathodu koodi nammudi party-ude kasta kaalam thudangi..". Bobby kottarakkara another leader in the party says "Ini koodutal vivarum vacchu thudangiyal randu partykareyum alukal thalli chathakkum"..:-)

scorpiogenius said...

wow! the pic made my day!

hats off mc...

Bobby said...

The priority of kerala govt was right when it was focusing on literacy (when more than half of the states in the country are still fighting to alleviate poverty).

What happened to the DPEP program?

Were it not the parents who didn't like it?
Who will educate these parents?

It is possible for a person to be educated without being a literate. Languages are a powerful tool for socialising and the whole

Signboard is interesting!Someone has worked hard to put those messages together and I think it will serve the purpose.

Jackson said...

i don't see how this will help matters any.. :/

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