In the landmark text, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paolo Freire wrote, “The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world. The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.” This quote, although removed from the Indian context in terms of time or space, is one of the sharpest representations of how the process of education is supposed to work – and how it actually ends up functioning in our flawed system. Instead of producing critical, free-thinking and engaged students, with the ability to not just process the world around them but also to actively re-shape it, we end up limiting their thought processes and worldviews.
Education can be many things to a student, particularly in India with its immense social stratification, gendered exclusions and increasing liberalization and commercialization. The questions of access and equity are compounded by the increased withering away of the public education system, which too is riddled with problems of its own. Meanwhile, the pandemic threw another spanner into the works – one that has not truly been dealt with even now, more than a year later.
This month also marks the time of Hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are expected to carry out, at least once in their lifetimes, if able. We explore the history behind Hajj, and the woman whose sacrifice marked a significant turning point in human history – Hajar AS. In addition, the last month has been a time of severe destruction in Palestine, as well as closer home, with the possibility of massive demographic, political and socio-economic changes being imposed on the island of Lakshadweep. These issues have been covered in detail.
The pandemic, although on the wane for now, remains a source of deep concern. As we approach this month of july, many people have lost their lives, and many others have fought to help humanity during this time of need. With prayers for all those undergoing such difficulties, we present this important issue in front of our readers.