Education is an important element for any developing
country. A growing economy creates new types of professions which are not just labour
intense. These positions need to be filled by educated people that can allow
the country to manage its growth. Instruction is also important to form new
entrepreneurs and a middle class who will create additional markets for new
products not strictly related to the basic needs. These are just few examples
on the importance of education and not surprisingly 3 out of 4 organizations
for which we are working for in India for the social sabbatical are education
related.

Through my experience in Parikrma and the success stories
from other organizations, I learn that education is also important from a
psychological point of view. Knowledge is a crucial element to build confidence
in people untouched by the economic revolution. The importance of the relation
between education and confidence is so strong that is also revealed   by the name chosen by one of the organizations
we work for: Head Held High.

In India education can help people to be more self-confident
by breaking down 3 barriers

The first barrier is economic related. The growing economy
is creating a huge disparity. This disparity is not just between the super-rich
and the poor but also between an increasing middle class and the large amount
of people living in the slums or in rural area. People that left out from the
economic transformation can consider themselves inadequate or worth less than the
rising number of people around them able to reach a comfortable level of life.
Unfortunately this sense of inadequacy is transmitted to their children
condemning them to a precarious life as well. Education doesn`t just give the
possibility and the hope to get a slice of the new wealth but also a different
way of looking at themselves improving their life by reducing the importance of
wealth when they compare themselves to others .

The second barrier is typically Indian and it has to do with
the caste system. Despite the fact that the caste system has been abolished from
a legal point of view immediately after the independence, it still plays an
important role in the Indian society condemning millions of people to a
miserable life. The caste system doesn`t only regulate the relationship between
people but impose a way of looking at yourself. If you belong to the class of
untouchable (or Dalit composing 18% of Indian population), you are told and
made think that you are not equal to other people during your entire existence.
The caste system assign a role and as long as the system is strong in the
people’s mind, this role is never confronted no matter how bad is.  Education provides awareness to people,
providing an element that brings them to the same level of others helping to
defy the role assigned by the caste system.

The third barrier has to do with the *** genre. India is a
patriarchal system pushing the woman in a corner. In underprivileged and
uneducated sector of Indian society women are considered objects. Western media
have recently paid attention on recent cases of rape happened lately in India
but this is the tip of the iceberg as the discrimination of woman can take
different forms. For example if a woman becomes a widow, she lose the respect
of her community becoming object of abuses as nobody protects her.  The task of cleaning the roads is generally
assigned to women.  Education is not only
a way for women to obtain self-awareness but forces men to see women from a
different point of view and respect them.

Unfortunately we cannot ignore the fact that confidence and
education are double edge swords. Despite the increasing disparity, India
remains a peaceful society. As long as the growing economy is able to occupy
the increasing number of educated people, it will remain peaceful. In the moment
this will stop and the educated people will remain out of the economic processes
they will challenge the system on the base of the awareness of their condition
obtained through education. This awareness can generate anger that can be
translated into violence. Non- profit education organizations like Parikrma
fortunately appear to be aware of this. For this reason they don’t pay
attention only on education but they try to model a new way of being indian
able to find a compromise between awareness obtained through
education/confidence and non-violence. Will this enough? Only time will tell
us.

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