A Mirage of Progress

The idea of education, especially in association with developing countries, has always been considered to be a tool for growth and development. India itself has seen various rights and laws related to education, coming into play that have been predicted to transform the national picture in positive ways.

However, should education as an idea be directly associated with employability? In such a scenario, on one hand envisioning India’s economic growth may still be plausible up to an extent, but on the other, growth in intellect and skills may not take a prior position in the system. The human resource of the country then, may not be trained within the notion of a local space, since there will be no distinction between ways of knowledge acquisition in India as well as outside India.

This process has been studied under the Academic Dependency Theory, which states that the world has been divided into a leader-follower dichotomy in academic and research arenas. This implies that the research methods, tools, and construction of knowledge and practice, especially related to social sciences, is adopted by the leader countries. The leader-follower relation is academically referred to as the center-periphery nexus (center comprising the leader countries, and periphery comprising the follower countries). The implication of such a division is that the world receives its academic materials and resources from the center, currently constituted merely by France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. This system invariably rests a daunting power into the hands of the center, which might manipulate ways of knowledge acquisition in the peripheries, and may train the human resource, not for the countries individually, but for the center and its global impact on the world, as a whole.

Digging deeper into the concept, even though in the times where the world has been called a ‘global village’, developing a sound base in theory and practice within social sciences may seem economically plausible, however, at the same time it is also eliminating the notion of knowledge and context, developed within a local geographical space. If the sense of locality is eliminated, the human resource cannot flourish for the nation and its resources, in an individual context.

The solution to this obstacles can be multidimensional. Taiwan as a country has been establishing educational institutes exclusively for indigenous scholars, so that the national roots get revived within the country. Brazil and some other Latin American countries took an extreme step of breaking all academic contacts with the central countries, so that process of implicit academic manipulation can stop completely.

The most important solution must be the change in the imperialist structure; the structure which decides the flow of research and knowledge acquisition tools, that is then imparted in the peripheral nations. Therefore, efforts must be made by the peripheral nations not to push their ways to become a part of the center, but to uproot the entire structure and develop an inclusive academic system, in which both local and central knowledge systems are incorporated.

Until these solutions are incorporated in the peripheral regions, it is only legit for us to question whether education is actually a tool for growth or merely a mirage of progress.

Anamika Das