Columns, Opinion

FENG: India educating India

Paralleling the great success of the new health care plan’s passing in the United States, India recently passed an important reform of its own &-&- one surrounding the importance of education.

India’s government, through this reform, now mandates that all children between ages six and 14, regardless of family income, must attend school. The government will subsidize all costs that families cannot afford to pay. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that “revamping [India’s] education system is an economic imperative for India, which is seeking to reap its demographic dividend.”

About one-third of India’s 1.2 billion people are under the age of 14 and a significant number of them are illiterate.

Bravo, India.

Education for all means two things: The first is a more progressive society. All grand legislations aim to improve society’s happiness, and the best way to achieve universal happiness is, fundamentally, to spread pleasure and to avoid things that deprive us of pleasure. Some may say that such a thought is hedonistic, but it isn’t. There is a difference between happiness and contentment &- while the former is something pure, long-lasting and obtainable through education, the latter can be obtained merely by eating a carton of ice cream.

The WSJ also reported how Indian children of a small village pilfered coal daily from a nearby mine to sell at the local market. With this new legislation in India, these children have a chance to experience something new, elevate their aptitude and seek the higher pleasure of intellect. Education allows people to break free from their previous limits in experience and pursue new ones. It is better to be a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied fool.

Furthermore, this education reform will inevitably help the economy, as The Journal alluded it will. By educating such a large demographic, not only will a progressive society develop, but also a progressive economy &-&- one that supports a free public sector under the supervision of the government. And with a public sector as large as India’s, you bet that the economy will boom.

One may argue that forcing children into anything without regard for their own choices is morally wrong. Such an education reform breaks the individuality of the children, forcing them to attend school because of law. But it is best to have children start early, give them the education and eventually let them decide for themselves what is best. I can almost guarantee that most of them will choose to further their education, either through college or applying basic skills to the work force.

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