Education in a college falls, roughly in either of two categories the world over. A liberal education implies training in the fine arts, the humanities, cultural patterns and behavior, and aims at developing a man's personality. Technical education, on the other hand, aims primarily at equipping a man for work in the practical sense of getting him fit for a job.
Liberal education, in origin, is older than technical education. Hence, it is more popular than technical education. With the advancement of industrialization the people of the West came to realize importance of technical education. The Industrial Revolution brought about a great change in the outlook of men regarding education. The increasing use of machinery has compelled us to feel the necessity of technical education. All the countries of the world, with no exception, have started to impart specialized training to their youths.
Before the advent of industrialization, education was the privilege of the upper class. Technical education has given a new dignity and status to the labor class and lower class. New technical education is looked upon as important and dignified as liberal education. The old myth that mental work is superior to physical work has been exploded. Technical education makes a man capable of diving deep into the realities of life and presents before him a true picture of life. Liberally educated persons are good talkers, debaters and dreamers. They can never work together with unity and solidarity. Manual workers often show more union, organization and solidarity.
There are numberless advantages of technical education. It enables a man to solve the problem of bread and butter. A technically educated man can never fall a victim to unemployment and suffering. The graduates are seen wandering here and there aimlessly but a technician is rarely found without occupation.
More than that, however, it trains him in a specialized branch of knowledge. In India, especially, where there is dire need of technicians and scientists, technical education can come in much more useful than vocational education, which stops at readying a person for a job. Technical education thus covers a wider field than vocational.
Our educational institutions have become centres of indiscipline and lawlessness because they impart that type of education to the students which rarely proves useful to the students in their later life. The result is that students themselves during the course of receiving education feel frustrated and have no creative interest in the lessons taught to them in the class rooms. No reasonable man can deny this fact that India is deplorably backward in technical education. It is the foremost reason of our low standard of living. India is short of doctors, engineers and skilled workers to serve the society and to run our factories profitably. Our big projects sometimes fail on account of paucity technical hands. The present system of Indian education was set up by Britishers with a view to producing clerks and white-collared 'Baboos' who could be helpful in running the administration. So this system is fundamentally defective and it requires a complete re-orientation to meet the challenges of changing India.
Almost all educationists are convinced that, for a country, with a little more than ten percent literacy, purely technical form of education is not likely to be of great help. The crying need is literacy. Technical education is only likely to succeed when a large part of the nation has become sufficiently literate. It is an excellent thing to train a carpenter's son in the latest development of his trade, but it is ridiculous to expect him to become a first rate electrical engineer unless he has gone through a primary course in liberal education. It is, therefore, not wise to put liberal and technical educations in water-tight compartments. The proper policy would be to stress liberal education in the early stage, say till Matriculation, and then commence with the main course of technical education basing the student's choice of scientific research on aptitude and inclination.
Technical education is not devoid of defects. It makes a man narrow and materialistic in outlook and makes him unfit for the true appreciation of art, music and literature. A highly specialized worker in the branch of industry is of no use in another. It is necessary for perfect life that man should learn to earn his living and to learn the art of living at the same time.
We must also be careful not to be too thorough-going. While stressing the importance of technical education, we must always keep in mind that the best education, the education that goes most towards developing decency and culture, is still liberal. What all educational institutions must keep in mind is the all round man; the purpose of all kinds of education is simply to round off a man's nature, to polish it and give him a chance of perfecting it. Technical education must always be aware of the higher end; and so long as it keeps it in view, it is bound to be of immense help in the building of our country's future.
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