Political Literacy

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Education is an unending process of making life meaningful. Environmental changes have educated us for centuries through available systems in the socio-political set-up. The acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs, habits and personal development continues the cultural heritage of one generation to another. Several Governments have provided the public right to education to the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council (UNESCO) to settle issues related to education. 

Keeping socio-political development in mind, education is imparted scientifically  which includes, apart from normal teaching, training, storytelling, discussion as well as directed research based on theories, philosophy and empirical research. In the context of overall development the concept of compulsory education was initiated where children get the required education during the period prescribed by the Government in any registered school and parents are motivated to send their children regularly where they are educated by efficient teachers, free of cost with other facilities such as a mid-day meal, free school uniforms and school books.  As a result, many countries consider it to be the right of every citizen. The Government‘s compulsory education scheme provides mastery in physical and mental skills. Values of ethics and social communication abilities are also developed to contribute a definite role in national development. Attached to social development is the concept of political maturity and the right decision-making of each citizen to update political system.

Education and social development

Social development signifies qualitative changes in the structure and framework of society which ultimately fulfils the aims and objectives by its upward ascending movements featuring greater levels of energy, efficiency, quality, productivity, complexity, creativity, mastery, enjoyment and accomplishment. In the last centuries global societies witnessed a marked development in all fields of social development. To progress we need to educate ourselves about the latest scientific methods and research.

Scientific and educational development has guided social development: enriching human resources and society’s collective knowledge from one generation to another to face challenges. It is highly attached with the scientific and social issues to continue the ever – growing process of development to reach the rare social height in the global context. Education, in general, instills hope and expectation among youth and equips them with the physical capability and the mental horizon to improve productivity and enhance the living standards of the masses. Social development is a continuous process based on improved structures in which education plays an important role –

a. it expands the sphere of social activity,

b. qualitative expansion in the content create a new social fabric,

c. it tries to bring more/excluded fabrics in the main stream,

d. remodelling of existing and new social fabric, functions more efficiently.

The Oxford University has recently fixed some indicators, namely, health, empowerment, safety and security, ability to go about without shame, and meaning and value in one’s life. The global movement for social development sets its goals for the coming millennium with the Copenhagen Declaration of 1995.

Education and political development

In democratic countries, citizenship education is important and an interesting field of study because most nations possess a multi caste, religious and ethnic society.  The right of universal suffrage given to citizens without any discrimination is misused at times the desired objectives of the political system in the absence of any viable check paves the way for the deterioration of the democratic spirit. Although a system exists to provide political knowledge to schoolchildren, factors like socio-economic variables, life conditions, and personal traits negatively affect their participation in value-free politics.

The importance of political education has been a matter of concern since Plato and Aristotle who defined the close relationship between political education and the type of regime. The democracies of today require democratic citizens who possess sufficient knowledge competence and character fitted in democratic politics. The issue received attention with great changes in the nature of democratisation in the last 3-4 decades. As a follow-up, countries began their quest to focus on relevant studies and what was evident was the decreasing interest of youth because of their  limited knowledge about politics and its importance in their lives.

Education today

Many countries are engaging in educating citizens and masses to facilitate political processes in the interests of the ruling system. In this context, it’s important for teachers to discuss politics in detail and teach them accordingly. It should be made compulsory for all students to know how their Governments is formed as well as how it is organised? What are the rights of children and citizens of the country? What are their duties as citizens?

In the course of debate and discussions they will learn the importance of their vote, when they cast it on Election Day. In recent times even the nature of politics has become very diverse, complex and extensive and students need to learn how to lead a purposeful life. These are the basics of political literacy which continually provide education with a theoretical framework for making the policy efficiently. On the other hand, maximum participation of masses in the political processes make their attitude positive, a sense of citizenship, a feeling of belonging, as well as personal and social development.

Author:

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is the Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science and the Dean of Social Sciences at B.N. Mandal University, Madhepura (Bihar), India

By Dr. Rajkumar Singh