Dialogue with ‘Holographic’ Gandhi on “Future of Education”

150 Years of Mahatma Gandhi

As part of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and in celebration to mark the ‘United Nations International Day of Education’ almost 400 participants including teachers, educators, students, academicians and policymakers took part in a discussion on “Future of Education” in Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi on January 27, 2020 organised by UNESCO MGIEP in association with GSDS. Through the ‘Holographic Gandhi’ the discussion commenced with an interactive session with the young enthusiastic participants. Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank was the chief guest on the occasion. Dr. Karan Singh, eminent author and poet and former member of the Rajya Sabha; Ms. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, former Minister of Education, France;, Mr. Jagmohan Singh Rajput, India’s Representative to UNESCO Governing Board Chair UNESCO MGIEP and SD; Shri Anantha Duraiappah, Director UNESCO MGIEP along with Shri Dipanker Shri Gyan, Director GSDS took part in the discussion. Shri Anantha Duraiappah, Director UNESCO MGIEP moderated the discussion.
The panel discussion commenced with a standing hologram of Gandhi, who spoke for 7 minutes about the ideologies of Gandhi. The talk, developed by the technical team of Mahatma Gandhi Digital Museum, was based on excerpts from Gandhi’s writings on Education, Satyagraha (the truth), Ahinsa (non-violence), Kindness and Critical Inquiry. While most people may only know Gandhi for his political views and writings, the hologram brought to light what Gandhi had to say about education.
The dialogue was opened by Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India, who highlighted the importance of promoting the Gandhian values of peace and non-violence to build a culture of sustainable peace in the world. Mr. Pokhriyal Nishank stated: ‘’Academic success, while important, cannot be the end goal of our education system. Education must pursue a grander goal; an education for human flourishing. If real societal change is to be achieved, Gandhiji’s learnings will need to be built into our education systems and exemplified in our daily lives.’’
In his address, Shri Dipanker Shri Gyan, said, “If real societal change is to be achieved, Gandhi’s learnings, which he meticulously imbibed through his experiments, need to be built into our education systems and exemplified in our daily lives. These skills or competencies such as empathy, mindfulness, impulse control and kindness can be built through constant experimentation and experience, the same key pathways that Gandhi himself deployed to build”. He also emphasised that the growth of the global challenges such as inequality, exclusion, violence and sectarianism has resulted in a foreseeable social imbalance that has driven humanity apart and said that an education that is focussed on building emotional intelligence and character should be the main goal of individuals, society or nation.
Noting the current state of education, Ms. Belkacem observed: "Education systems today need to look beyond developing skills suited to the work force. We need to develop the emotional skills of our children and in this Gandhi's teachings and practice of empathy, compassion, non-violence and emphasis on the truth, can be extremely beneficial for our education systems.’’
Commenting on the dialogue series, Dr. Duraiappah expressed, “For a better future, we must not just focus on an education that builds human capital but human flourishing”. He further added, “Unless our present education systems embrace building emotional intelligence, we might end up in a world of highly literate people who are lacking in empathy and only concerned with their own wellbeing. This is not sustainable and will not build peaceful and sustainable societies.”
Further, Dr. Karan Singh, noted ‘’When we look at the state of the world today, we realise we need future leaders who are not just brilliant in their leadership and intellectual skills; instead we need emotionally resilient, kind, compassionate and empathetic leaders - leaders such as Gandhiji. How can we empower the young to emulate and practice the qualities Gandhiji stood so strongly for? I think our education systems can play an imperative role in introducing such qualities at a young age.’’
The discussions revolved around the meaning of education in today’s world and measures that need to be undertaken if the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 – of ensuring ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’ and promoting ‘lifelong learning opportunities’ for all, are to be achieved. The panel also discussed the critical need to inculcate the emotional as well as cognitive aspects in our education systems to build competencies of empathy, compassion and kindness in the young – if they are to become citizens, who promote sustainable peace. The discussions further focused on the future of education and key competencies that need to be inculcated in education systems in pursuit of more peaceful and sustainable societies.
A unique aspect of the dialogue was a youth perspective on the panel. Kuany noted the qualities of Gandhi that inspired him, stating ‘’I bumped into the Mahatma almost a decade ago while striving to fill the emptiness of schooling through self-education. I took and ran with inquiry or experimentation and nonviolence from his corpus. My regret is that, up until then, my years in school had failed to equip me with the tools necessary to think for myself and curate values that would enable me to coexist harmoniously on this beautiful planet. I, therefore, thank Gandhi for the light and hope that the students of today and the future will not have to look back and regret the consequences of such an archaic, torturous, intellectually sedative and emotionally numbing experience that is most schooling.’’