The concept of free education!

Gurukul, fire ritual, Sai University, Ignou(distant learning)

Education should become free to all.

Sharing our knowledge with others is a good thing. It is precisely what the teachers, preceptors and others do. But there is a point in this. If the knowledge is shared free, then it acquires more value. We should not commercialize the sharing of knowledge. Why? Education, health care and drinking water should be shared with others without any expectation. In India, there was a practice to share one meal with a guest who comes to the doorstep in the noon. It is prevalent in the rural villages. Though the householder may not be rich, yet they share the food with a guest who comes to their door step.

But the householder in urban areas has become money minded and calculative and hence they are reluctant to share the food with others. At best, they may dole out a rupee or so. Of course, in the schools and colleges, teachers and professors are hired for the job and they have to be compensated to lead their life. It has become a profession and hence none will be ready to impart knowledge free of cost.

But, in India, there are some charitable trusts which run schools and colleges. They do not charge anything from the students but still pay their faculties suitably. There is a corpus fund to manage the expenditure. From ancient days, in the gurukul system of education, boys used to join a hermitage. They go and live with the preceptor who will provide food and shelter to them free. The boys need to do all that is required by the preceptor for performance of fire rituals. They gather wooden pieces from trees, flowers and fruits for worship. Their main food consists of cereals, grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables found in the forest. They live thus with the preceptor for around ten to twelve years, learn all the skills needed for life. They treat the preceptor as their father and serve him thus. At the end of the learning, each boy gives to the preceptor whatever is demanded of them. But those preceptors never demand things which are beyond the reach of boys. During the period, even the sons of King also undergoes such period with the preceptor. But there is absolutely no discrimination between the royal descendants as well as ordinary riot. Of course, the King will compensate the preceptor suitably while others give whatever is within their capacity.

Today, free education is given by only some charitable institutions like the Sathya Sai Trust, Ramakrishna Mission and a few more. In certain places, trusts formed in the name of their mentors do charge more and arbitrarily. Majority of the people now live in third world countries and many of them are really poor to pursue higher education. They become school drop outs due to poverty. In such a scenario, it is incumbent on the government to give free education to one and all. In India also, several schemes have been started to offer inclusive education to all the eligible students by age. The expenditure of the state is really sizable. The problem here is, the benefit of the scheme do not reach the deserving students who reside in inaccessible places like deep forests or on hills. Slowly, those inaccessible areas are brought under one or more beneficiary schemes of the government.

The major problem with India is its size, multiplicity of languages. Hence text books in each language seem to be a major hurdle. Secondly the concept of ‘distant education have gained root through Indra Gandhi National Open University which offers many programs for almost all students who even become drop outs unable to pursue the colleges as day scholars. For them, the distant education scheme is really a boon! It has successfully imparted higher education to many students who reside in the nook and corner of the country. These steps would really accelerate education extension to all the students for a reasonable minimum fee for the course materials. Administering such a huge Institution is really a praiseworthy job. But the quality of perfection should percolate from the higher to the lower level. This is a problem that persists in each huge organization. Such Distant education universities should function like a smooth oiled machine by carrying out innovation in administration.

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