Development University

Society grows in maturity with passing centuries by acquiring practical knowledge necessary for its survival. In the next stage society grows to a higher level of maturity. Instead of accumulating practical knowledge, it begins to acquire knowledge of human nature. In time this knowledge ripens into true wisdom. It is not practically possible to pass on this True Wisdom to posterity through education or even family. Only a part gets transmitted and it is left to the individuals to seek for Wisdom. At least a thousand years ago or even more society consciously endeavoured to pass on its best equipment, viz. wisdom and knowledge to its young-ones but could succeed in institutionalizing education only to the level of the 3 r’s at the bottom and pure knowledge like mathematics and poetry at the highest level of the educational ladder.

After several centuries society realized the need to train its engineers, doctors, teachers, astronomers, architects in formally organized institutions. Neither the population was ready nor the centralized agencies like governments could embark on such a programme till the 18th and 19th century. Thus technological education has come to spread all over the globe.

Pure wisdom helps understand human nature and be at peace inwardly. Technology makes for modern life of comfort. These two are two different segments unrelated to each other. The history of world education reveals a groping in the dark. Beginning in pure knowledge they moved to experimental sciences, organized them by specialization, and reduced all subjects including philosophy to empirical methods. It is not towards pure wisdom they moved but away from it. The effort towards interdisciplinary courses appears to be a move in the right direction; but it is so only in letter and not in spirit. Though interdisciplinary educational effort can lead to integrating learning, the emphasis on empiricism has pushed the centre of knowledge lower instead of helping it to move to the higher centre where wisdom lies. Instead of reaching wisdom which is the original aim, the organized effort of education has got bogged down into data and statistics.

So far, i.e. in the last 20 centuries society has been moving forward slowly. Any major change took at least a century to succeed and some more to establish itself. This slow change enabled the population to know what changes were taking place for the purposes of adjusting to them if not for understanding the nature and process of change.

Today, i.e. in the latter half of the 20th century, societies all over the world are changing rapidly and this quick change brings about a strain on the population. The simplest of these changes is population growth and the strain it generates is famine. The most complex of these changes is in the family unit and the strain it generates is nervous disequilibrium. Between these two extremes several changes and their accompanying strains can be listed. Not all these changes are undesirable. Many of them are true advancement in civilizing the world. Good or bad, these changes in technology, political systems, commercial enterprise, mass media, spread of sports, rights of men and especially the rights of the common man are having far-reaching effects on individual nations and the mankind as a whole. This change in the Third World goes by the name development and in the western world it is known as progress. But in both cases it is truly social development. Neither the pure education of the past nor the technical education of the present can help the individual understand what is happening in the world or to the world so that he can rediscover his centre of harmony inside himself and outside in the society.

I should say it is a pressing need of the hour to educate the young in the process of social change they are undergoing so that their nervous equilibrium will not be disturbed. Rightly organized this education – Development Education – can help the individual to attain to a social maturity which is not even the aim of the other two systems. It can help the student to evolve socially. Planned comprehensively, Development Education can serve the purposes of pure education and technical education at the same time fulfilling a new role of helping the social evolution of the individual. Its most practical consequences in the Third World would be the student would discover the enormous potentials for material prosperity. In the western world (where life in some segments at least is becoming a curse) the student will stumble upon the inner psychological treasures of harmony, delight joy and sweetness.