Education: Making a Difference

The British instillation of progressive secondary education in India opened the eyes of some Indians (mostly high-caste Hindus) to Enlightenment ideas of equality, freedom, and other human rights. Having been exposed to these ideas through their English education, many Indians could no longer accept the racial discrimination against them because it “…flagrantly contradicted those cherished concepts of human rights and equality. Moreover, it was based on dictatorship, no matter how benign.” (page 870 McKay) This caused many high-caste Hindus to question the legitimacy of British control in India and come together with other Indians to form the Indian National Congress, which fought discrimination and later sought autonomy and independence from the British Empire.

This made me start to think about the power of education. When people understand the possibilities that exist, they can see what change needs to be made in their own lives. Knowledge can help people make a difference. It also makes me think that maybe this is why knowledge is limited in countries with oppressive governments. This leads me to pose two questions: First, do you think that India would have achieved its independence as soon as it did, or even at all, without the educated Elite Hindus? Second, more broadly speaking, how do you think the power of education and knowledge affects a citizen’s ability to make a difference in their country? Do we see the opposite effect when knowledge and information are censored by oppressive governments?

An example of the effect of censorship by an oppressive government is North Korea. See the article below for more information:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/technology/22iht-won.3251122.html

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2 Responses to Education: Making a Difference

  1. kbylancik2015 says:

    Personally, I think that education definitely makes a difference in a country, as evidenced by the events in India. I also agree with you in that the Enlightenment ideals made a considerable difference in the move towards independence of India, and without them it would have most likely taken much longer for India to regain its autonomy.

    On the other hand, I feel that, when it comes to restricting education and knowledge, it takes a much longer time for any real effects to be seen. Suddenly restricting some knowledge would not have an immediate effect because there would still be some people who would know or remember the way things used to be. That said, with an extremely oppressive and controlling government, it is possible to restrict the knowledge and quickly shift the mindset of the country, or at least the majority of the country. Nazi Germany is another good example of this as, once Hitler took over, teachers that were loyal to him and to the Nazi party were put into school systems and began to teach and raise the children believing the new ideals of the Nazi party. In addition to this, with a government who took away or killed all those who spoke out against the Reich, it was easier to control the introduction of new information and knowledge as all those who were sharing forbidden or anti-Nazi knowledge were simply taken away.

    Overall, I definitely think that knowledge is power and, as knowledge is gained or restricted and censored, power is gained or taken away.

  2. sweiswasser2015 says:

    Madison and Krissy, your theories on the power of restricted schooling and education made me consider the power of propaganda and its effect on revolutionary potential. I then considered what defines powerful propaganda and the idea that education often provides a platform for propaganda. North Korea, as Madison pointed out earlier, is the epitome of such education. Not only does North Korea educate their children with the communist ideals of their “divine leader”, but North Korean propaganda is rooted so deep that even the history taught in North Korean schools is propaganda. In Blaine Harden’s “Escape from Camp 14”, North Korean defector Shin Dong-Hyuk explains that he was taught as a child that the Americans invaded North Korea during the Korean War.

    To address the power of education, I think it is therefore critical to first understand the degree to which there is freedom of speech. While the education in the United States is unrestricted and freedom of speech is a natural right, education is much more powerful, as radical ideas are better able to spread. However, in places like North Korea, all education is dictated by the government. Therefore, everything is rooted in propaganda and North Koreans believe that their oppressive life style is absolute.

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