Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Mann Library, 102
Cornell University Mann Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
The organization NIRMAN has been working for 25 years on what we consider to be the root of Indian educational problems. According to our research, the problem is only partly that of the poor preparation of teachers and the faulty pedagogy of the Bachelor of Education course. The problem is also only partly the poor resources of Indian schools, and only partly the recalcitrance of Indian parents in wanting their children educated. Our research shows that in fact Indian teachers are unexpectedly well trained, that resources are actually abundant, and that parents in both city and village are sufficiently awakened to the importance of schooling. The real problem is that the politics and the discourse of Indian education is premised on an essential quality within the child. According to this, all children can simply not learn. Some children have the inner quality that enables them to learn, and other children, alas, cannot, and never will be able to.
Nita Kumar is Brown Family Professor of South Asian History at Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California. From publishing earlier on artisans, urbanism and social change, she has been studying Indian education for the last 25 years from numerous perspectives. Her books and articles include Artisans of Banaras (Princeton, 1998), Friends, Brothers and Informants (Berkeley, 1992); Women as Subjects (Virginia, 1994); Mai: A translation (Kali, 2001); Lessons from Schools (Sage, 2001), The Politics of Gender, Community and Modernities (Oxford, 2007); and she is working on two books called Managing a School in India and Education and the Rise of a New Indian Intelligentsia. From 1990 she has also been engaged in innovative education in Varanasi, India, through both service and advocacy, working with children, teachers, families; to develop curricula, fiction for children, arts materials, and teachers’ training units (www.nirman.info).