COVID-19, that appeared in Wuhan city of China during the last leg of 2019. The clueless and deadly virus spread throughout World. As of now, majority of the countries are affected. The maximum part of the world witnessed lock down.
The roads, markets, bureaucratic organizations, cinema halls, tourist spots are empty and calm. People are confined within four walls and are suffering from several anxieties. Everything is going against their routine. COVID-19 has affected families relations, educational institutions, Economics of Nations as well as Political structures be it capitalist or Socialist.
Revisiting Ivan Illich
The Institutional Alternatives in a Technological Society came ultimately in the form of Book by Ivan Illich in 1970. The name of the book Deschooling society picked the attention of wide academic circles in Western World. Illich’s work is very complex and comprehensive alternative to the established social system. The apparent fact is that this work reflects the glimpses of Marxism. Illich’s bold criticism of “Hidden agenda” of School curriculum is much debited from Marxist concept of super-structure, Gramsic’s concept of civil society and Althuser’s concept of ideological state apparatus.Illich targets the whole social structure and its functionality of Latin American nations.
The line of first chapter clearly depicts “Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve different ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question”. He is not hesitant in initial stage to support complete transformation of society.
His intention is clear that these management oriented institutions have created mess and are physically polluted, socially polarized and psychological impotent. In the view of Illich the existed institutions are against personal, creative, and autonomous interaction and their values are part of corrupt agenda.
He highlights at the end of first chapter that Deschooling will liberate society from odds of social system that are only supporting privileged class. Moreover secret agenda of school curriculum adds prejudice and discrimination in the society. Simultaneously the repository of society's myth, the institutionalization of that myth's contradictions, and the locus of the ritual which reproduces and veils the disparities between myth and reality like myth of intuitional values, myth of measured values and myth of packaged values. Schools serve as an effective creator and sustainer of social myth because of its structure as a ritual game of graded promotions.
The credentials in the form of degrees, grades and certificates are devaluing the learning process as wisdom. It has created a new type of alienation in life. Besides that the new form of professionalism and media houses are hand in hand to miss-represent man's world-vision, language, and demands.
Deschooling society appeals more to the present situation, we would like to specify it only to the Education system. Pandemic have created new challenges to the education system. Students are locked within their houses. They do not have access to the schools, colleges and universities. No doubt this scenario resembles some certain features of Deschooling society in the form of dis-appearances of compulsory attendance and timetable. Obviously this is not the Illich’s Brave-men step, but COVID-19 replaced brave man to revive and rebirth Illich’s concept.
When the institutional work is suspended, students are searching for alternatives which look very much similar to learning webs of Deschooling society. During the times of Illich, Internet services were not available and his alternative was confined to stores in libraries, rental agencies, laboratories, and showrooms like museums and theaters and daily use in factories, airports, or on farms, but made available to students as apprentices or on off hours.
Internet an addition to Illich’s approach
Alternatives seems sound to the already existed Educational institutes. It looks new in its vision, demonstration and execution. The alternatives are appealing for change in the education system, if not Deschooling but rethinking of Deschooling model. Internet as a source of vast knowledge has provided a platform that can replace school buildings and curriculum. It asks numerous questions to the administration regarding its functionality.
The ocean of knowledge in the form of e-books, e-libraries, social networking sites (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram) and research hubs (Jstor, academia) Et cetera are visible alternative to fixed educational system backed by political system of the world. What Illich exposed hidden and corrupt agenda of established education system). Internet may tremendous effect on compulsory attendance of students in future. The availability of vast e-material can motivates students not to regularly attended classes at their admitted institutions. The lectures through multi-media (YouTube, zoom app) are encouraging informal system of education. Students can attend lecture at their own choices. They may prefer to listen, watch and eat at similar time and space.
In addition it curtails the limits of time-table management. Both teacher and pupil are free to work as per his or her choice at anytime, anywhere. Teachers are now more curious and sensitive towards their lectures and demonstration.
Cameras and recording devices are always in their minds. The lectures are created to influence more audience and attract more public. Some are delivering lectures for economic motive and other for social services. The bottle line is that education system is working with new devices in absence of physical infrastructure and hierarchical rules.
This is a change in itself. If not completely deschooling, but a new hope of alternative way of Schooling. But the biggest drawback of this is that everybody is not in a position to own smartphone or computer. This problem can be solved if less priority is given to administrative and management sector.
The aim of any development is to change or reform the established structures towards inclusion of downtrodden. Sometimes nature plays more role than social activists. Change in one institute will create avenues for other to think and work with different ways. Let’s hope new social order will come after this pandemic where we will work collectively for the reduction social disparities.
Authors are Ph. D Research Scholar, Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir