MODERN EDUCATION: IMPACTS ON INDIGENOUS SOCIETY Unfolding Modern Education in Hemis Shukpa-Chen and Ladakh


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by Md Mahabubur Rahman      24 May 2022


In modern society, education is the imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and
learning, especially at a school or similar institution. In early societies, education was the
sharing of knowledge about food collecting and shelter; creating weapons and other tools;
learning the language; and acquiring the values, behavior, and religious ceremonies or practices
of a particular society. In the traditional learning system, people learn through experience,
history, elder members, and natural phenomena. It makes them suitable according to their
culture, society, and their very own natural setting. But in the modern (western) education
system, it’s being tried to teach the same thing across the glove which denies the difference
between culture, society, economic system, way of learning, history, and tradition. The western
people think that they are “responsible” for making the other so-called educated applying a
common schooling system for all. This education system works to make the others as per the
need of the elite class. Where the traditional learning system tech children kindness, ethics, the
traditional production system, the importance of family, and surviving using their traditional
knowledge and resources from their surroundings, the western modern education system
detaches them from their family and culture, and makes them competitors of the consumerist
economy system. By doing this the capitalists make the people serve their agenda. In this essay,
it will be discussed how the western education planners replacing the traditional learning
system with the modern education system, in pursuance of modern education and the way it
works based on Carol Black’s 2010 documentary “Schooling the World”. To draw the real
picture of the so-called modern education system, it uses Hemis Shukpa-Chen and the Ladakhi
people of India as an example.

Outside Indian, Inside English

“We must at present do our best to form a class of persons Indian in blood and colour; but
English in taste, in opinions, in morals, in intellect”- Lord Macaulay. He is considered primarily
responsible for the introduction of a Western-style education system in India. He advocated the
adoption of English as the official language, the use of English as the medium of instruction in
all schools, and the training of English-speaking Indians to serve as teachers. As a result,
Macaulayism developed in India, and conventional and ancient Indian educational, vocational,
and scientific systems and disciplines began to rapidly erode. In his Minute on Indian Education
of February 1835, Macaulay wrote that “a single shelf of a good European library was worth the
whole native literature of India and Arabia.
The westerners present themselves as they are right from every corner but the others are in
darkness and they are responsible to remove their darkness. They measure the whole world on
a single scale considering themselves at the apex. They think that their way of living is scientific
whereas the culture, tradition, and belief system of others are nothing but prejudices. In the
name of education, they spread Christianity, class conflict, consumerism, identity crisis, and
destruction of the traditional social system around the globe. To gratify neocolonialism, the
western educational system is used in the outer world. US army killed about 5000000 people in
the invades of the Philippines and a group of teachers was sent to the rest of them to make
them “educated”. This was nothing but making a generation who will follow western culture,
thoughts, lifestyle and make others think that they are nothing, they should follow the westerns
and their rules. It helped them to cherish the colonial rule in the colonies even after the colonialism is over. It helps them to spread the discourses and make the colonial people subject to them. This is what Edward Said called orientalism in his book Orientalism (1978). In orientalism Said stated that the orientalists apply the logic that they know as much about the orient that they don’t know themselves that much. And that’s why they know that the orients couldn’t rule themselves. They question the validity of knowledge of orients and negation the oriental knowledge leveling “unscientific”.

The case of Ladakh

Western planners successfully spread the hegemony of the modern education system. It is shown as if there is no other way of learning but only reading and writing is the way, it’s scientific, modern, and a way of becoming civilized. At first they make third-world people feel backward, primitive, and inferior to the westerners and then they present modern education as a way of becoming modern, civilized, and equal to westerners. Before developing the modern education system, the people of Ladakh managed their livelihood by producing crops and other things using indigenous knowledge. This indigenous knowledge spread from generation to generation by practical experiences, folktales and songs. Children from these communities grew up in their natural settings, with their family and kin groups and practicing their traditional knowledge. Their parents and elders taught them values and ethics, everyday life lessons, and sustainable uses of resources. But in the modern education system, people don’t care about moral values and ethics, their target is to be a doctor or engineer and earn a lot of money. The thing they care about in the modern education system is money. In the traditional learning system, spiritual or religious beliefs are taught to the children and they lead their life based on their spiritual beliefs. The goal of religious life is to lead a simple life and get blessed by their almighty which controls their social and personal behavior. But in the modern education system, all they learn about is how to make more money, and the goal of their life is material success.
The traditional learning system is dependent on culture and it keeps the diversity in the society. But in the modern learning system, the same model is being followed in every corner of the world and cultural diversity is being demolished gradually. Nowadays, the students who came from Ladakh to major cities in India like Mumbai, Delhi etc. to study almost forget their culture. The medium of the modern learning system is english and in modern schools and colleges, speaking both formal and informal spheres in English is obvious. So they forgot their won language too.
The parents of Ladakh do every possible thing to make their children educated in the modern education system. Most of them are peasants and produce their livelihood by farming. They don’t have that much surplus which they can use to make money and send their child to modern institutes. So they tried hard, expense less for them, and sometimes sell their farmland to manage child education costs. The target of them is to get educated, manage a good job (highly paid) and improve life. A small number of them can reach their target but most of them can’t manage the expected job. Neither they can’t make an expected career after higher education nor do they come back to their indigenous life. The difference between the unemployment rate of higher educated and “non-educated” people of India gives us a clear

picture of that. The rate of unemployment among graduates and higher education is 19.4% whereas the unemployment rate among “non-educated” is 0%. So ultimately their dream doesn’t come true properly but sometimes backfires. Even it gets worse when parents invest money taken by loan or sell their property. So, the depression and tendency of committing suicide among the students are increasing alarmingly.


Westerns always represent the third world as a burden to them and to develop them as a responsibility. But deep down they are making their market in the third world from the very beginning of colonialism. They are making the outer world their consumer at the same time making them dependent on the west for making their livelihood. But in an indigenous learning system, people learn how to make their livelihood on their own, they don’t have to depend on anyone. If the societies of the third world remain self-dependent who will serve the west and buy their products? The answer is no one and that’s why they apply the modern education system as a folded plan. Breaking down the family, detaching from own culture, forgetting own language and knowledge is what is called the modern education system, in other words, the western education system. It doesn’t help to improve people’s life but gradually the opposite is happening. Among the students in the USA, 44%, in India 37.7% in Bangladesh 39.1% suffer from depression. China has recently started using Artificial Intelligence where the teachers monitor the focus of school children in the classroom by a tool worn on the head that shows an indicator light whether he/she is focused on the class or not and directly informs their parents about that. This practice put extra pressure on the children and they are getting mentally depressed. These things are opposite to an indigenous society where there is no separate course to teach children like modern education, they learn through experience, no extra tension for competition and live their life freely.