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Educating the Common People Essay
Honorable President, my dear teachers, guests and students Assalam-o-Alaikum.
Pakistan is mainly a land of villages with far extended fields and shaded houses. Most of those who live in those houses shaded by trees and vocal with the music of birds. work on the fields and feed the nation. But the life that these cultivators live presents a very dismal sight. Not infrequently are these villages ravaged by epidemics at such time as these loud lamentations of the bereaved rend the air and ascend across the space. Infant mortality is a common enough thing in the villages, so the deep groans of mothers are constantly setting blended with the murmur of the leaves and brooks. For all their hard labour, they cannot reap rich harvest, and are always worn out with cares and anxieties. In short, they suffer from all the ill of ignorance and send their plaintive but ineffective supplications to heaven.
Education can, however, bring about a complete change. When they become conversant with the rules of hygiene and the value of sanitation, they will cease to die by thousands. If it is brought home to them that their method of cultivation is woefully outmoded and that there are improved methods they will give up their conservative attitude and take to new ones that promise of a better life and happiness. And for all this spread of education is essential. But the education they need is a special kind of it. They must not receive only general education which makes us “gentlemen” and begets an aversion to manual work and cultivation.
In the present circumstances, we cannot think of adopting over ambitious plans so general education may at present extend over a period of six years. Of these, one year may be devoted to making the children acquainted with vernacular and Arabic alphabet and the figures used different Arithmetical calculation, for the boys and girls of the illiterate parents are believed to come to school without this initial preparation. This class may be called the Infant Class, which should be followed by five years of studies in one of the mother tongues, arithmetic, religious teaching, geography and hygiene.
This is the vocational stage and this may be of two years duration. At this stage the boys should receive knowledge of the facts of elementary science, such as. why some metals take rust and how to prevent it etc. Which has some relation to their daily life? The course will include training in modern cultivation. in the use of different fertilizers and manures, preparation of manures from refuse materials, plant protection, cattle breeding and their care, and effective food preservation. But this should include not only theoretical lectures but also practical demonstration.
Girl students should at this stage be assigned to the care of a female teacher. Their education here should consist of things peculiar to themselves. The course must include sewing, house-keeping. prevention against and remedies for female diseases. child care and sanitation. All these subjects are very important to making the home happy, and much of the efficiency of the men-folk depends on the condition that exists at the homes.
The need for adult education is also imperative, and facility for such education needs to be available for all. No village should go without its own adult education center where the villagers may receive elementary knowledge of and training in agricultural methods and the use of means to get in good harvest. They should also learn to read and write so that they can gather further knowledge from books and journals.
For the adult women a condensed course on the line of the one suggested for the girls at the second stage will be found very helpful. But this should be accompanied by the learning of reading and writing. For a future generation of sturdy cultivators, who will form the bulk of our population, we need literate and healthy mothers. It is for their ignorance that a large number of infants die every year. They suffer themselves and cause suffering to a vast multitude. So their education cannot at all be neglected. But as their needs are different from those of the men folk, separate adult education centers for women should be opened to impart such knowledge as are spoken of in the preceding lines.
But to enable them to keep abreast of the progress of agricultural methods libraries are to be started in every village.
These libraries will have to collect all sorts of agricultural literature and some other books of general interest. Here the cultivators would gather in the evening and read journals and other things and receive information of the latest developments in the field. Popular lectures may also be arranged from time to time. and some eminent specialist may be invited to address the cultivators.
The task that ahead is a formidable one and asks. for immediate attention. Unless the cultivators are sufficiently conversant with modern trends of things no progress seems to be possible. A country like ours, which is predominantly agricultural, cannot achieve any prosperity until education has spread among them. So an education of the tillers should precede all other development projects.