Monday, September 24, 2012

Movie: Schooling the World

I just watched this movie questioning about modern education. This topic is very dear to me as I always support education for underprivileged kids in 3rd countries. This film used Ladakh (a place I visited a month ago) as an example, and coincidentally, I also supported a local school in Ladakh.

This is a thought provoking movie. 
I had a lot of unanswered questions. The underlying assumption of modern education is to alleviate poverty around the world. Personally, I am an ardent believer of education as I am a beneficiary of a good education.  However, this film challenged this underlying assumption that I felt strongly about.

Does education really alleviate poverty?
Is modern education making people dependent of modern economy?
Is modern education removing people's ability to live independently in a sustainable way?
(Think: about the farmers who lived independently for thousands of years)
Is modern education churning out workers for the elites?
Is modern education like a factory churning out homogeneous products?
Is education selling the wrong dream?
(Think: The high unemployment among the undergraduates in USA.)

The fact: 
90% of the people in Ladakh educated in modern school will not be doctors/engineers/lawyers. They would most probably be a lowly paid workers struggling in the modern economy. Yet, they have lost their ability to survive in their native land, and they lost their culture.

A Ladakhi girl studying in a missionary school wants to work in a city like Delhi.
A Ladakhi young man working in Delhi, yearns to go back to live in Ladakh.
That's the irony of life.


There is another scene in the film that disturbs me.
The Ladakhi students in a Christian missionary school have to speak English and they would be punished by the teacher if they speak Hindi or Ladakhi. And there was a scene where all the students were reciting Christian prayer (not sure if it was voluntary or compulsory).

It is really scary to see how kids are being indoctrinated on a daily basis.
I could relate to this as I was studied in a Catholic missionary school for 4 years and I chose to transfer out of a Christian high school after 3 months (There was compulsory preaching every monday). I was on the verge of converting to Christianity as it was easy in those environment (all your teachers and friends are either Christian or Catholic, and I listen to the Christian doctrine almost everyday). Teenage years is such a vulnerable stage in life where you just want to fit in and do not have critical mind. 

I was only 15 years old. And my form teacher encouraged me to join her after school to attend her church event. She told me that Jesus/God had opened the door for me, and if I didn't embrace it, it would be closed. And when my grandma was hospitalized, my form teacher would appear on my grandma bedside and started to pray aloud for my grandma - making my grandma very uncomfortable. (On the hindsight, my form teacher was very insensitive to other people.) 

Personally, I am against indoctrinating young people with religion (be it Christianity/Buddhism/Islam) in school. These things should not be mixed up with school. It is scary that more than 15 years after I left my school, I still know how to recite Hail Mary.... this is the power of indoctrination at a young age.

It is really scary how education is used to manipulate and control the young mind.
I am raised in such a system.
I am glad that I have seen it through.

If I have an opportunity to meet my form teacher again, I would let her know that her action was inappropriate. 

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