The institution of state came into being when people organised themselves to live a disciplined life. The purpose was to hand over some of the important functions of society to a mega organisation or association which would be invested with the powers to streamline the functions of various splinter social groups for the benefit of society at large. With the passage of time, state has come to be defined in clear cut terms and its functions have come too stated in a comprehensive manner.
The institution of State has come to be defined by experts. According to Garner, “State is a community of persons, more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of a territory, independent and so of a foreign control and possessing an organised government to which the inhabitants render a habitual obedience.”
Kandel defines State “as an organised political community with government recognised by people.”
In other words, a very well-organised society assumes the shape of a State. Territory, people, government and sovereignty are the essential elements of a State. A State exists for the sake of good life.
Totalitarian and Democratic State:
A totalitarian State is be-all and end-all of the life of the people under its control. It is omnipotent and sovereign power in all fields of human life. It is in absolute control of the life and activities of its subordinate people.
In a totalitarian state like all other matters of importance, all aspects of education like aims, curriculum, methods of teaching etc. are monitored by the State to serve its own well defined ends. Such a state of affairs exists in Communist Russia and China.
On the other hand, a democratic State is created by the people; it exists for the people, with sovereignty vested in the power of the people. Such a State exists for the overall welfare of the people as it draws its strength from them.
A democratic State provides opportunities to its citizens to plan and execute such programmes and policies as will lead to a happier and richer life. Education under such a State becomes a unique investment, to utilise human resource for the general good of the people.
Educational Functions of the Welfare State:
Education is one of the most important functions of a welfare State. In olden times, it was not so. With the coming in of democracy, this idea gained strength that education of all citizens must become the primary responsibility of the State. This does not mean that state will usurp the right of the family. Raymont has rightly said:
“The function of the state is to protect and promote, not to absorb or take the place of family and the individual. In the sphere of education, it is the state’s right, and even duty to protect the interior right of the family and the church. … The national state can rightfully demand and ensure that the citizens have a proper knowledge of their civil and national duties and attain a certain standard of intellectual and moral culture.”
Again, in the words of Prof. Laski, “Education of the citizens is the heart of the modern State.”
State is a powerful informal agency of education. cmay be enlisted as under:
1. Providing educational aims and objectives;
2. Building up a national system of education;
3. Making provision for educational institutions at all levels of education;
4. Financing education;
5. Directing and controlling educational activities;
6. Arranging for educational research;
7. Holding seminars and workshops;
8. Appointing educational committees and commissions;
9. Establishment of state institutes of education;
10. Establishing State Boards of School Education;
11. Providing for effective teacher-education;
12. Management of human resources development;
13. Floating scholarship schemes;
14. Publication of standard learning materials; and
15. Maintaining standards of education.
The above educational functions of State are discussed in brief as:
1. Providing Educational Aims and Objectives
The State understands its responsibilities towards its citizens: The citizens must be educated keeping in view the cherished aims and objectives.
A democratic state must project those educational aims and objectives which lead to the creation of a humane and enlightened society. While the state guarantees certain rights to its citizens and educational institutions make the youth aware of these rights, the state also expects its citizens to perform duties which match those rights. All education must be geared ‘ to those aims and objectives which can strengthen the hands of the state.
2. Building up a National System of Education
This is one of the most important responsibilities of the state to build up a national system of education. Such a system of education clearly defines the essence and the role of education. Such a system of education is above regional disparities of caste, colour, creed, religion, and language, economic and social compulsions. This requires a sound foundation in the values by which a nation is identified.
3. Provision for Education at all Levels
Another important function of education is to provide for educational institutions which cater for the needs of students with varied interests and aptitudes. Of course, private enterprise is an active partner is this endeavour; but, it is the primary responsibility of the state to establish and maintain educational institutions at all levels of education.
4. Financing Education
Financing education is an important responsibility of the state. A number of educational institutions are run by the state whereas an equally large number is privately managed. Such institutions require grant-in-aid from the state. The state, under Indian system, is obliged to provide for 95% grant-in-aid to privately managed and state recognised institutions.
5. Controlling Educational Activities
It is important for the state to direct and control educational activities. Each state determines the aims, courses of study, and methods of teaching and evaluation system, keeping in view the state needs as well as those of people governed by it. It also monitors supervision and inspection to keep educational activity in the proper gear. For this purpose, it creates controlling authorities which assist in the smooth running of the educational system.
6. Arranging for Educational Research
Continuous research activity is the sine qua non of improved educational activity. It is the responsibility of the state to encourage research activity in institutions of merit so as to keep pace with changing educational scenario. This implies state-funding of educational research. In this endeavour such agencies as State Council of Educational Research and Training can contribute a lot.
7. Holding Educational Seminars and Workshops
Educational seminars and workshops provide a good opportunity to experts as well as novices to gather together on one platform and hold discussions on current educational issues. The state has the responsibility to encourage those agencies which work in this direction. The point of consensus can help state policy framers to arrive at concrete decisions.
8. Appointing Educational Committees and Commissions
It has often been pointed out by experts that it the duty of the State to, appoint committees/commissions every five years to review educational situation in the region or in the country. It is on record that the recommendations made by such Commissions as Secondary Education Commission, Kothari Education Commission etc. have gana a long way in bringing about fast reaching changes in the Indian system of education.
9. State Institutes of Education
State institutes of education, State Council(s) of Educational Research and Training and State Institutes of Science etc. are important educational bodies created by the state to conduct research activity for the improvement of education. Such bodies are largely funded by the respective state governments.
10. State Boards of School Education
State Board/Council of School Education is established by the state to monitor smooth functioning of school education. The State Board/Council of School Education is vested with the responsibility of conducting examinations, publishing school text-books, granting affiliations, preparing syllabi etc.
11. Providing Effective System of Teacher-Education
Effective system of teacher-education is an essential condition for good education. It is the function of the state to create such institutions when quality teacher- education is provided. For quite some time, teacher-education in the country has come under National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), a statutory body set up under an Act of the Parliament. It is hoped that in due course of time, teacher-education would be totally streamlined.
12. Management of Human Resource Development
The economic development of a country much depends upon professionally trained human resources. It is through proper management of human resource development that requisite type of professional, technicians and highly qualified persons are made available for different job specifics. The government has to plan human resources development in such a manner that adequate man power is made available in industrial as well as managerial sectors.
13. Floating Scholarship Schemes
It is the function of the state to ensure that deserving and talented students are not deprived of education for want of finances. The state is always willing to provide scholarships and stipends without any consideration of caste, creed, sex and community, the deserving students must get their due.
14. Publication of Standard Learning Material
It is the function of the state to put checks on substandard text-books. The state should enlist the cooperation of authors of merit to write books for different levels of students. Standard books should be made available at reasonable price tags. NCERT and State Boards of Education are doing good job I in this direction.
15. Maintaining Standards of Education
It is the responsibility j of the government to develop such an educational infrastructure as to produce superior man-power which can match that of advanced countries. To achieve this objective, country’s leading educationists must be pressed into service to design curricula, methods of teaching, research activity, reading material and other aspects of education.