“In most
educational
institutions, there
is a total lack of
the concept of
human
development and
nation-building in
the education
process. The
emphasis instead
is on moneymaking
and
materialism. This
has resulted in
the gradual
erosion of values
among people
and the body
politic.”
Values and ethics in school education
    The country has progressed economically and major steps have been taken to enhance education standards but somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost sight of our traditional values. Lt Gen H Lal points out that the time has come when we must start moulding the character of students to become good citizens.
 When you open a newspaper in the morning, most headlines scream about robberies, murder and violence against women, children and elderly. The other set of news relates to corruption, frauds and scams involving crores of rupees. Who commits these crimes?

     Most of the culprits are welleducated men and women. In the pre-independence era, when few people had access to formal education, most crimes were committed by illiterate people. It was given that educated persons would display civilised behaviour, decency, good manners and ethical conduct. With a huge expansion of the education system, the standard as measured by the percentage of marks obtained in examinations has been rising to unprecedented levels. But, unfortunately there is a marked decline in the character, moral values and general behaviour of students coming out of schools and colleges.

     In most educational institutions, there is a total lack of the concept of human development and nationbuilding in the education process. The emphasis instead, is on money-making and materialism. This has resulted in the gradual erosion of values among people and the body politic. This trend needs to be reversed if India has to survive as a nation and acquire its due place in the world. The only way to arrest this decline is in providing value-orientation in our educational system.

     What are values? The term value may mean different things to different people. According to Milton Rokeach: “A value is an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end state of existence.”

     Without going into a debate about the definition of value, it is generally accepted that five universal human values i.e. Truth, Righteous conduct, Peace, Love and Non-violence are directly linked to physical, intellectual, emotional psyche and spiritual facets of human personality. These values are essentially acquired during childhood, first in the home and then at school. This is not a new issue. It has been discussed in different forums from time to time. The National Education Policy, 1986, spoke about creating awareness of India’s common cultural heritage, social justice and compassion, democracy and egalitarianism, secularism, gender equality, concern for environment, social cohesion and national unity, population and Quality of life, and scientific outlook and spirit of enquiry. It suggested that learning material should be designed to equip students with the wherewithal to combat social evils like caste and class barriers, religious fundamentalism etc on the one hand and develop a scientific temper and habit of logical, rational thinking on the other.

     Unfortunately, very little action was taken to implement this important part of the education policy. We need to take concrete action of framing curricula and development and adaptation of innovative methods to inculcate values and ethics in children. It is not subjects like History, Geography or Science that needs to be taught through dedicated textbooks such as ‘moral science’. That would make a dull reading. Indirect method of instruction is more effective in building the character of students. The school atmosphere, the personality and behaviour of teachers is a major factor in developing a sense of values. It must be emphasised that consciousness of values must permeate the whole curriculum and programme of activities in the school.

     With the availability of electronic media, it should be possible to develop audiovisual capsules based on clippings of films and TV material showing virtues of honesty, integrity, compassion and selfless service. In addition, short films on real life examples from lives of great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Baba Amte will have much greater impact on young minds than sermons on morality. The programme for value inculcation can be further enriched by organising visits to homes for destitute children and aged persons to develop values of compassion and kindness. These programmes should also include extension activities and community service by teachers and students that teach dignity of labour and selfless service.

     Another aspect of characterbuilding is the environment in the home of the child. The most important school for character building is the home. This is where children observe the behaviour of their parents and siblings, which has marked influence in their own behaviour pattern and habits. Values and habits once formed in childhood are difficult to change. Unfortunately, in today’s environment, most parents — particularly those belonging to upper and middle class families — have very little time for their children. With both parents having their own career, they are unable to spend significant time with their children who are left to the care of maids or have to fend for themselves. The parents feel their duty is done after they send their children to
“The programme
for value
inculcation can be
enriched by
organizing visits to
homes for destitute
children and
aged persons to
develop values of
compassion and
kindness. These
programmes
should also
include community
service by teachers
and students that
teach dignity of
labour and selfless
service.”
expensive schools. They forget that it is family habits and traditions that mould the character and emotional behaviour and discrimination between right and wrong conduct.

     The child’s performance even at school is largely determined by the environment at home. Therefore, parents’ involvement in the learning process at school is absolutely essential. There is an increasing need for regular parent-teacher interaction. Through such interactions, parents come to know certain undesirable traits in their child which can be traced to environment and relationship in the family. Once they come to know about it, they may be able to modify their behaviour at home before permanent damage is done to psyche of the child. This interaction should not be casual, limited to exchange of pleasantries and informing some good points about the child which the parents want to hear. It should be serious and institutionalised interaction with records of issues discussed so that corrective action is taken and progress is meaningfully reviewed in subsequent interactions.

     These are just a few thoughts for highlighting the need to take urgent steps to check deterioration in values of younger generation. There are endless possibilities of developing innovative methods and techniques for integrating values and ethics in school education. This approach would help in moulding the character of students to become good citizens, while they are being imparted knowledge for their intellectual advancement.
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