At the risk of sounding over-simplistic, I think there are 3 cores or 3Cs of education – Capability, Capacity and Conscience. I think that these three encapsulate all that I feel or understand about our educational systems.
For educational systems, this is the ability to, systemically, foster a society where educational needs of its citizens are adequately met. These needs themselves exist in the wider social, economic, political and cultural context. And insofar as this context is dynamic and evolutionary by nature, the ability needs be dynamic and evolutionary in its genesis.
This capability is built on the edifice of free, open and democratic conversation and builds on experience and wisdom of countless failed experiments. It requires an ecology of innovation and a high degree of flexibility in the face of change. It requires patience, tolerance, reason, judgment and perseverance to build.
This is the power of the system to fulfil it’s mandate. Capacity includes the availability and sufficiency of stakeholders and resources that will serve to build capability. While the physicality of capacity is very obvious, by definition it also constrains the very capabilities it aims to build/foster – whether they are processes, environments, tools or techniques. Physical capacity then must be preceded by intellectual capacity – the wisdom to plan and use resources effectively and efficiently.
Without conscience, there can be no educational system. This conscience is used, not just in the sense of justice and equity, but also to include passion and commitment. It is the single most important catalytic agent for change to continuously happen. And systems must have both the capability and the capacity to foster conscience.
There may be a host of other C’s of Education, some positive (like Collaboration) and some negative (like Corruption) in their import. But my belief is that these three are extremely important.
Looking at the educational system in India, I am most convinced that the quality and quantity of open, online debate is extremely insufficient, for a democracy like ours. And equally apologetic, to remind us what the architect of our democracy, Gandhi, stood for.
Not balancing the 3 Cs can only create more problems. Capability without the capacity has led to a skew in intellectual (and other) capital. The biggest examples are islands of excellence such as the IITs and IIMs. Capacity without the capability has evidenced itself through the massive under-utilization of existing infrastructure and programs. Both without conscience has resulted in inequitable access and an unwillingness to change.
On the other hand, competent focus on the 3Cs can ensure successful and equitable growth stories. We must change in order for that to happen.