All over the world, whether it is Japan, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Sudan or Indonesia, undisciplined behaviour on the part of students is becoming an everyday occurrence. From a more than ordinarily stiff question papa to a corrupt regime, anything is enough to make them leave then classrooms and go slogan-shouting in the streets like a crowd of street- urchins or a gang of hoodlums hired by a small-town politician.
What does it show? Is it plain lack of discipline or does it signify increasing political awareness in the younger generation? Are they jus showing off or is it boredom forcing them to find some unconventional outlet? Is it a sign of exuberant health or a symptom of some fell disease
Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that the phenomena has assumed alarming proportions, and has become a matter for serious thought.
How the future generation is shaping up and what type of leadership the country is going to inherit are important matters for all of us. cannot, therefore, dismiss the problem from our minds with a shrug 3 give way to despair and become helpless prophets of doom. We have a go deep into causes, and, in the light of our findings, apply whatever correctives may appear to be feasible and effective.
In a comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon, we shall have a take into account the spirit of the age in which we are living, the natural propensities of youth and the external factors which influence their behaviour.
We are living in the age of science. New discoveries every day are making man conscious of his hidden powers. He has become worships of intellect and reason, no longer prepared to accept anything without questioning. Established moral values and faiths have lost their appeal With that, man has lost his spiritual moorings; and become a straw wafer about in all directions with every wind of change. The result is a rootless generation, cut off from the past, and facing an uncertain future.
The students of today are members of this rootless generation which is assailed by doubts at every step and has lost all sense of purpose and direction. It has fallen a prey to an indiscipline of character marked by a purposeless non-conformism, wanton disobedience and mental lethargy.
This state of affairs, coupled with the natural propensities of youth towards revolt and adventure, has served as the ideal setting for students to appear in the role of mobs of frustrated agitators, not willing to listen anybody, out to assert themselves in all their adolescent exuberance, and to have a good time at any cost.
There are other factors which aggravate the malaise. One of these is the discrepancy which the coming generation notices almost daily between percept and practice. While on the one hand, their elders extol before them the spirit of adventure, on the other, they caution them to play safe and dangle before them day in and day out the aim of securing a good job as the sole purpose of education. In the class-rooms they are taught the virtues of purity in public life, but outside they see the rule of jobbery and corruption everywhere. It is not therefore surprising that they feel confused and really do not know what is expected of them.
Our much-maligned system of education also contributes in making the confusion worse-confounded. The real aims of education viz., broadening the intellect, developing the mind and discipline of thinking are relegated to the background, and the whole system is geared to the passing of examinations where memory rather than understanding, and book-knowledge rather than thinking are at premium.
It is bound to be so as long a degree remains a passport to a good job and nothing more. This attitude robs education of its real purpose. The student is always weighted down by the prospect of an uncertain future and the teacher is reduced to the position of an uninspired retailer of worn-out theories. The student-teacher relationship, which should be an inspiring association of minds, comes down to the commercial level. The teacher is no more than a mercenary, eking out a miserable existence by propounding economics at a rupee an hour. How can he inspire any feelings of respect for himself or any interest in the subject he teaches? The result is boredom and the typical reaction thereto in the form of indiscipline.
Our universities are crowded—not with seekers after education, but with young hopefuls pushed into their portals for securing passports to careers. The main criterion for adjudging the suitability of a candidate for admission is his parents' capacity to pay The quality of entrants into the colleges has been the subject of adverse comments from educationists on many occasions, but pretty little is done to improve it.
Similarly, complaints about the lack of amenities in colleges and universities, as also about the poor standards of administration in most of them are also quite frequent, so much so that they have provoked prolonged agitations on the part of students, but no determined efforts have been made to improve things in this direction either. The result is that students can get neither proper attention nor guidance. They go slack and lose all interest they could have in their studies. Another point which deserves attention here is the number of holidays observed in our educational institutions. Perhaps we beat every other country in this respect.
With enough leisure and the surplus energy of youth, is it any wonder that our students have to go in search, of excitement; and more often than not, it takes the form of organized mischief.
Lack of interest on the part of parents is another factor which contributes to breeding indiscipline in the young minds. To a certain extent it is a sign of the times. Life is becoming so complicated and busy every day that there is almost no home life left; and careless and indifferent homes produce in disciplined children.
If we look at the history of student unrest in India over the past couple of years or so, we shall find that it has occurred mostly in those States which were politically disturbed or unstable. This points to another factor which promotes student indiscipline, viz., the unscrupulous political organizations and politicians who do not hesitate to make use of the students for furthering their aims. Looking out for fun and excitement, students fall an easy prey to their machinations.
If we undertake the task with will and determination, there is no reason why we should not be able to enforce effective remedial measures which should rescue our youth from the perilous path they are treading. Tightening up of rules and restrictions would be a remedy worse than the disease because it will only produce reaction and make matters worse.
The right approach would be to reorientated education to make it more purposeful. It should not only give the students a sense of a mission in life but also furnish them with a set of values which should serve as guideposts in their journey of life. It should be something more than an apprenticeship for this or that type of job. It should teach them to live in the real sense of the term and not merely to vegetate.
The teacher must be given his rightful place if he is expected to co-operate in the task of building the nation. He should be a living example of the ennobling influence of real learning, and not a pitiable wage-earner.
The rush to the educational institutions must be regulated and controlled with scientific channelisation of talent in suitable directions. The administration of these institutions should be improved and proper amenities provided. Closer parent-teacher collaboration should be established; and last but not least, politics of any shade or colour must be banished from all educational institutions.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, "For the students there should be no party politics. There should be no Socialist, Communist, Congress or other groups among students. They should be all students first and last, determined to gather as much knowledge as possible and that for the sake of the service of the people, not for the sake of getting jobs."