Start with professional qualifications.
Nobody has said it yet: The global financial crisis is hand-crafted by highly-educated people. Most of them armed with post-graduate and professional degrees from reputed universities of the world. Some may be armed with an MBA with a specialisation in finance. Others awarded with some of the most prestigious degrees and qualifications in economics, commerce, and/or finance. They did not just pull wool over the eyes of the world one impetuous morning. No sir, they toiled and wrought and worked hard on this debacle for decades.
These white-collared criminals have plundered the cumulative wealth of the world in hundreds of billions of dollars, and robbed ordinary folks of their savings and jobs. Has anyone noticed the rich and industrialised nations of the world have ended up needing more aid than has ever been given to poor Africa?
The uneducated are limited due to their lack of qualifications, to relatively-smaller financial crimes. Among these are shop-lifting, pick-pocketing, or at worse, kidnapping, and more recently, hijacking ships off Somalia. The formidable Indian Navy steams in, cannon-guns blazing, to sink those Somalian Johnny Depps come lately. In shameless contrast, white-collar criminals get governments to pick the tab. How come an increasingly expensive education system forgot an entire chapter on basic human values? Exactly where did the education systems of the world go wrong?
I found myself asking these questions while countless parents in India bunked work to stand in queues, paying hefty donations and bribes, to get their toddlers admitted to school. How ironic. In the charade of education, stern-looking principals asked: “What are your aspirations from your child?” I wonder which parent had the wit to answer: “Oh! I’d be proud for my girl to become a global financial analyst so she can siphon off billions of dollars and bring capitalism to its knees. Do you have special coaching classes to nurture her at an early age? I’ll pay you the bribe for her admissions. It’s worth the investment.”
Nobody’s keenly asking the Indian education system about the values they’ll inculcate in children. Most parents are only interested to note whether the school’s centrally air-conditioned; and whether it boasts a computer lab with Wi-Fi and broadband. No one’s paused to ask whether they use GNU/Linux and FOSS, whether the syllabus and the courseware is muft and mukt, or even if the school’s open to explore such fundamental ideas. An education system built on proprietary education is deeply flawed and wounded. It teaches children that sharing with a neighbour or a friend is a bad thing. Students and teachers may soon be encouraged to rat upon their colleagues’ use of unauthorised software and courseware to reap rewards in return.
Young minds are not ignited to share their knowledge and education by contributing to muft and mukt courseware. Instead, every quarter, a chunk of each child’s school fees will go into paying for proprietary software and courseware peddled to a captive audience. In some cases, the courseware may have been authored by sincere teachers paid a one-time and small pittance, or authors who once received their education and knowledge in their growing years, in the true spirit of sharing.
Superficially, it may seem ridiculous to partly blame the meltdown on a lack of muft and mukt software and education. But this is not about tools and pedagogies. This is neither about saving costs. This is about deeply examining what’s gone wrong with education. This is about exploring cultural values that education seems to have forgotten to impart. All these values come abundantly with the muft and mukt vision of FOSS. The only priceless thing a school may impart your child, are good human values. The adoption of a muft and mukt vision is its first yardstick. If a school can’t appreciate this fundamental principle of knowledge, everything else may well be flawed. I’m doing my bit to melt down the rotten system of proprietary education today, through activism and direct involvements with academia.
Everybody pitch in. We can bring about an even bigger melt down.