( Deachen Chuskit , IGIT, Computer Engineering)
TRACING SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE
‘Yon-tan’, the Ladakhi word for education, is clustered linguistically with ‘culture’ and virtue . Here, ‘culture’ refers to formal learning as equated with being cultured in a scholarly or humanistic sense. The ten Tibetan major (analytical/spiritual) and minor (aesthetic) sciences of knowledge carry the same meaning of ‘culture’, and were cited by ideologues at the Cultural Academy as exemplifying Ladakh’s long-standing ‘civilised’ status. The sciences and literacy however, were primarily the prerogative of monks (logic/philosophy) or noble families (indigenous medical science) and cannot be taken as evidence of an all encompassing system of schooling in the past, as they were outside most Ladakhis’ experiences of learning. While resource shortages and the time-bound work of agriculture still interrupt education in Ladakh, today’s stakeholders see education as fulfilling new and beneficial roles. Formal education began as a central government initiative. Flicking through a SECMOL textbook, one Delhi-educated Ladakhi teacher trenchantly remarked:“Preserve your culture”? Nonsense! Education, education, education! Otherwise, what can we do? How can we know what to preserve? In the world there has been a man on the moon. We must be able to learn this new technology, not just this “wear-yourgoncha”[typical traditional outfit] stuff! .
Education provides a forum through which diverse and disparate stakeholders express, aggregate and separate their interests. While certain ideologies on education or ‘culture’ prevail in particular times or places, other voices struggle against the particular expression of education and/or ‘culture’ which achieves prominence at any given time.