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Delors Report & Our Educational Crossroads
Dr. Md. Afsar Ali
Assistant Professor of B.Ed. (Physical Science)
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose College, Kolkata-20
There are a number of crossroads in our education in reference to Delors Report. These
are mainly due to blind following of western philosophy, compartmentalization &
mechanization of education, as well as biasness in our curriculum. Crossroads are also there
due to non-addressing the professional needs of majority population (94.3%), who are
dropouts in our country. There is an urgent need of restructuring the whole education system
– for the sake of better tomorrow.
Jacques Delors was the 8th
President of the European Commission named as Delors
Commission. The report was published in 1996. It was a UNESCO report of the International
Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, which served as a Task Force on
Education for the Twenty-first Century. It reflects education as ‘Learning: the Treasure
Within’, a powerful plea for viewing education in a broader context. The Commission felt
that education is based upon four pillars: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live
together and learning to be.
According to Swami Vivekananda, “Education is the manifestation of perfection
already in man.” This is very much similar to the Delors report that ‘Learning: the Treasure
Within’. So, in short, the process of education facilitates the manifestation of the treasure
within every learner.
We shall now analyse our education system in the light of each of the four pillars of
Delors Commission report.
Pillar I: Learning to ‘Know’ –
This means to acquire knowledge about the society, environment or in broader term
about the universe. Comprehensive knowledge is must for the sake of fruitful education;
otherwise incomplete and misleading concepts will form to harm the society. Our prefixed
curriculum and examination oriented knowing has compartmentalized knowledge in the
narrower sense. Here, the learners learn only to pass in the examination. Here, knowing is
convergent to examination passing. They are not knowing for the sake of knowing or to
understand his/her environment or universe. Unhealthy competition for better achievements
in curriculum based evaluations kills the basic essence of knowing, i.e., all-round education.
Generally knowing ceases after certification. Afterwards, if there is a little bit of knowing, is
aimed at acquiring job/ profession. In these cases, knowing is convergent to doing. We
encourage specialization and professionalization of knowledge. As a result of this storm of
specialization and professionalization, nobody is willing to know anything more beyond
his/her professional requirement. To know anything co-curricular or extra-curricular is
considered to be ‘wastage’ of time and also ‘burden’ on one’s memory. So, a Professor
generally don’t want to know beyond that part of the curriculum which he/she has to transact
in classroom. Similarly, a Physician’s knowing activities generally do not cross his/her
boundary of professionalism. Same is true for almost all professions. But these professionals
are the best products of our education system. All, in general suffer from the disease of non-
comprehensive knowing. Sometimes, too rigid professional schedule hardly leaves any time
or energy to devote in knowing anything more. Moreover, non-appreciation of extra-
professional achievements, for professional advancements is another reason of incomplete
knowledge. Knowledge is information about verified facts. Our ancestors have verified the
happenings/facts for generations together and gained knowledge. Such knowledge they
transmitted to us for its preservation - enrichment and subsequently handing over to our next
generation. Here, education system has a great role to play. But, our education system, by and
large, make blind imitation of western ‘knowledge’. We neglect our own rich treasures of
genuine knowledge. Such as, the holy Qur’an mentions, “Do not the Unbelievers see that the
heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them
asunder? … It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the
celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.”(1)
The first sentence states about
the greatest discovery of recent times, the Big Bang Theory, for which Penzias and Wilson
shared the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics. Imagine, Qur’an has talked about Big Bang theory
1400 years ago! The second sentence talks about the moving nature of all the celestial bodies
including the sun. Till few years ago, we read in our school books that the sun is stationary;
which was not the correct knowledge, the right knowledge is – the sun has also got motion
and it completes one rotation around its own axis in 25 days. The sun also travels through
space at roughly 150 miles per second and takes about 200 million years to complete one
revolution around the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy.(2)
Although, this knowledge was in
our own treasure, in the Qur’an for centuries back, but in the storm of modernization (read,
westernization) we did not care it. Such rich treasures of knowledge will be found in other
As a consequence, phenomena such as - superstition, ignorance, human sacrifices, etc.
are rampant in our society even in the age of ICT ! Due to lack of true knowledge, we have
destroyed our environment, ecology, mental peace, family life, etc. and invited newer and
newer life-threatening diseases.
So, we should stop blind imitation of western knowledge, should honestly search out
our genuine knowledge from among the scriptures of different communities and then these
need to be integrated in our education system.
Pillar II: Learning to ‘Live Together’ –
This means discovering others and working towards common objectives. In a family,
two important members are husband and wife. In order to have a happy family life – it is very
important to know, understand and respect each-others history, culture, value system, etc.
India is a big family of 2800 castes, at the least(3)
and her two major components are Hindus
and Muslims. They are living side by side for centuries together, but do they know each
other? Does our education system make provision in this regard ? According to the famous
social thinker, M. N. Roy, “No civilized people in the world is so ignorant of Islamic history
and contemptuous of Mohammedan religion as the Hindus.” (4)
Similar is the case for all the
castes, i.e., ethnic identities living in India. This leads to the development of mistrust,
suspicion, ill-intent between and among the communities; which are purposefully nurtured by
the politicians on the fertile ground of ignorance. Hence, we are number one country in the
world where maximum number of communal riots take place.(5)
The religious scriptures of Hindus and Muslims are written in Sanskrit and Arabic
respectively. But, these languages are not taught in our schools. So, we don’t know our root,
hence we don’t know ourselves, our neighbours. Therefore, Sanskrit and Arabic should be
made compulsory in every school in India, in order to enable every child to read and
understand his/her scriptures as well as that of others. Then only all the created
misunderstandings and conflicts will be removed and learning to live together pillar of
Delors Report will be meaningful. Moreover, our curriculum to some extent is caste, religious
and gender bias - as mentioned by the eminent scholar, Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhya in his
lecture on the 16th
Refresher Course in Education, UGC-Academic Staff College, University
of Calcutta on 6th
September, 2011. Our History syllabus will be a right mention here.
Hence, in order to educate our learners to live together with different castes and
communities in India with peace, happiness and prosperity; we must recast our system of
education, – sooner the better.
Pillar III: Learning to ‘Do’ –
Discussion under this heading can be divided under two sub-headings :
i) For those who are above average learners –
Our whole educational activities are mainly centred-around this pillar only.
Professionalization of education led us to compartmentalization of knowledge and
mechanization of the whole spirit. This hinders proper conceptualization of life and
surroundings. As a result, the person remains confused, lacks self-confidence, affects
wholesome personality. The imitative nature of education - kills creativity. Cumulative result
of all these is that after 67 years of independence we have not produced a single real thinker!
ii) For those who are less than average learners –
In India yearly enrolment in primary school is 13.17 crore (year 2004-05).(6)
Out of this
large number of enrolment, only 5.7% reaches up to class XI(7)
. This means 94.3% learners
are dropout in our country. But our education system does little for them regarding ‘learning
to Do’ pillar. As scope for vocational training, or development of professional skill is
inadequate for these dropouts; they creates social problems, disturbs social equilibrium,
social harmony. So, our education does not serve the majority section of population.
Pillar IV: Learning to ‘Be’ –
Our education system lacks the proper mechanism to explore potentialities in all
dimensions of human endeavour. Less emphasis is put upon the development of human
qualities, like – honesty, selfishness, fellow feeling, etc. These can be cultivated through
value – morality and religious education. Almost all the education commission in India
recommended introduction of these education, but is not implemented. More emphasis is on
materialistic philosophies. So, this education system does not produce human being in its true
sense. It only produces some skilled hands. Morality is dying here. High level of corruption is
normal phenomena in a country where 77% people earn less than Rs.20/- per day(8)
ranked the fourth most corrupt country in Asia. First – Cambodia, Second & Third –
Indonesia & Philippines respectively. This is – according to Hong Kong-based consultancy
firm Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. (PERC)”(9)
. This is only in terms of
monetary corruption. But we have other forms of corruption also. Like intellectual, ethical
and moral corruptions. The worst form is the intellectual corruption. Our intelligentsia class
is not unbiased, hence corrupt. Our system of education has not produced selfless, devoted,
accountable leaders to lead the country. The sense of accountability to God is the most
important thing to restrain oneself from doing evil acts. Unfortunately, our education system
does not inculcate it.
In terms of Delors Report our education is definitely at the crossroads. This situation is
arrived mainly due to neglect of our own ‘treasure within’ and blind copying of western
trend. In some cases, crossroads arise due to curriculum biasness. Non-focussing of the
requirements of majority population also creates crossroads. These are the reasons that India
has lost a lot in terms of human resource development, particularly after independence. Time
has come to introspect ourselves, to rectify the wrongs in the whole education system and
make it befitting with the Delors Report, requirements of different caste & communities
living in India, and of course with our majority populations’ needs.
1. The holy Qur’an, Ch.21, Verse 30 & 33.
2. Naik Z, The Qur’an & Modern Science Compatible or Incompatible, Islamic Book Store,
3. Singh KS(1993), People of India, Anthropological Survey of India, Govt. of India.
4. Roy MN, Historical Role of Islam ; quotation, Biswas SK(2011), Itihaser Aloke Dalit
Muslim Unity, Dalit Muslim Friendship Society, Kolkata, p.13.
5. Chowdhury SS(2007), Bharoter Musolman Somajer Sonkot, Dalit Muslim Friendship
6. XIth Plan Working Group Report, MHRD, Department of School Education & Literacy;
retrieved on 10th
Sept. 2011 at from 7:15 am, from
7. Selected Educational Statistics 2005-06, MHRD, IMaCS Analysis; retrieved on
Sept.2011 at from 7:45 am, from http://www.nsdcindia.org/pdf/education-skill-
8. National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS); retrieved on
April, 2011 at 9:15 am from http://www.reuters.com.
9. The Milli Gazette, 16-30 April. 2011; 270 Vol. 12, No. 8, p.7.