Communication in Education : The Road Towards Potential Synergy

Dr Abhijit Bora Professor, Dept. of Mass Communication & Journalism, Tezpur University
Dr Abhijit Bora

The Encyclopaedia Brittanica defines Education as the discipline that is concerned with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school-like environments as opposed to various non formal and informal means of socialization. Education can be thought of as the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society. In this sense, it is equivalent to what social scientists term socialization or enculturation. Similarly, communication is the process of exchanging information among people in its various forms ranging from intrapersonal to mass communication with the different types of media available at hand like print, electronic, new media etc. It needs to be mentioned that each and every object or living being communicates something or the other every moment of life. Education can be considered as a specialized means of communication that is aimed at inculcating values and thoughts to learners using different methods. Thus, it is a fact that someone who is interested in making a career in the field of education shall be at a much advantageous position if the person is oriented with the basics of communication. This shall facilitate exchange of ideas in a much smoother as well as meaningful manner to the optimum level.
Since the days of imparting education in the 'gurukul' system to the present day era, ideas and techniques of education have changed a lot. However, the most basic aspect remains the same. That is – inculcation of values, skills and knowledge to a person for life which would make one a real human being above everything else. This is to be achieved by training and grooming one for all the challenges of life that may be thrown up by the society from time-to-time. Knowledge has been acquired in each and every discipline everywhere – in institutions of education and research and even otherwise all over the world. Here there is a strong need for connecting ourselves to such rich repositories of knowledge in different fields of life and thereby render ourselves 'educated and empowered'. It is not that education gives a person the tag of being educated in the literary sense of the term. It must also transform us to active human.
Also, it is said that media is 'an informal open university' where any and every issue concerning our society can be and should be discussed threadbare for public scrutiny. This would help the masses decide on which path to follow once all aspects of the issue are presented to the people with adequate justification.
In this regard, the National Education Policy 2020 envisions an India-centered education system that contributes directly to transforming our nation sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high quality education to all. In the efforts for achieving these important goals, all the quarters concerned would be required to coordinate and consolidate their portion of the overall growth system. And communication shall be one of these core areas towards this attainment.
The importance of the communication aspect can be understood from the detailed and elaborate discussions in the report "Communications in Education" prepared by Frances Hunt, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex in 2007. The report says that a good information and effective communications are expected to help in many areas. A few of them include -
• enable communities and civil society to engage with educational issues at the school level, raise issues with educational providers and promote accountability of provision and promote public engagement with educational reform programmes,
• increase public awareness of educational rights and make the uptake of educational services more likely, both for children and adults,
• build shared understandings which may lead to social change,
• involve the voices of the marginalized groups, to make educational provisions relevant to their needs,
• improve the quality of learning and educational outcomes,
The researcher has also pointed out that in the process, the Print media might be "exclusionary" as it required literacy to utilize it. But the electronic media including TV, Radio are viewed as more inclusionary, especially if efforts have been made to ensure broadcast material is designed to communicate effectively with a range of target audiences.
Related to these findings, two important developments need to be reported here in relation to the overall discussion ---
First, realizing the significance of the collaboration between these two disciplines, the Central University of Odisha has placed the Departments of Journalism & Mass Communication and Education under the broader School of Education (EDN) and Educational Technology (EDT). Being part of the same Faculty it is expected that there would be better a synergy between the two disciplines and may be in future more educational institutions would follow a similar structure for their programmes in the discipline of Education.
Secondly, the earlier syllabus of BA B Ed. Programme in Tezpur (Central) University did incorporate a system of offering several other disciplines as minor or pass courses in the Education Honours system. Simply speaking, the students of this main programme had the option of studying one particular course from the discipline of Communication conducted by the faculty of the Department of Mass Communication & Journalism (MCJ) of TU with a choice of taking four such courses from a pool offered by several departments under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) of the university. With those courses conducted by the MCJ Dept. were quite popular among these young students.
A timely step from DIET :
Sometime back, the administration of the District Institutes of Education and Training (D.I.E.T) inducted several faculty members for different positions including those in District Resource Unit (DRU) and Education Technology (ET) with a background of Mass Communication Media at postgraduate level. It is unique that probably for the first time in this system, people from the disciplines of – Communication, Mass Communication in general and Journalism, Commercial Art, Films, TV Programming, Drama etc. specifically have been appointed for the jobs. It is a very wise decision keeping up with the changing times. This step establishes the significance of the communication element in the pedagogy of education. It is set to open up new vistas of the field in future with more and more meaningful assimilation of communication techniques with that of the discipline of education. The present era primarily belongs to convergence and interdisciplinary efforts in a much broader sense. So, this development is a significant development to begin with and needs to be taken forward for improvement in skills for potential teachers in the future for both the worlds.
India – a young country :
This discussion assumes particular importance because by the current year our country has been forecast to be the 'youngest country' enjoying all the associated benefits of having a huge 'young' population unlike many other developed and developing nations. This was revealed in an article 'India is set to become the youngest country by 2020' which appeared in The Hindu (April 17, 2013) quoting the report 'State of the urban youth, India 2012 : Employment, Livelihood, Skills' by IRIS Knowledge Foundation in collaboration with UN-HABITAT. With a median age of 29 for a hopping 464 million people of the country by 2021 in the age group of 15 – 34 it is vital of significance that this category of the population be groomed properly with all the positive aspects of the discipline of Education. As many of this category of the populace might not be expected to be enrolled in the formal educational system, the role of Communication and Media becomes all the more important for reaching out to such a group effectively.
Opinion of newly-appointed faculty members with Communication and Media background ---
During a telephonic interview one such faculty member has informed that his present responsibilities included teaching of ICT, writing skill, etc. to learners and also conducting teachers' training in and outside the campus all of which needed communication skill to a considerable extent. Hence, his background of Mass Communication has been of much help and support to discharge his day-to-day duties. Further, he also believes that given an opportunity, a good part of media education should be included for teachers' training curriculum as media education has already been a part of high school level curriculum of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). He is of the opinion that Communication is an integral quality that every teacher should possess for effective teaching to different types of students from diverse backgrounds. Hence, an adequate exposure to Mass Communication and Media studies would be definitely helpful to the academic programmes of education.
The two other faculty members also with Mass Communication background have echoed almost similar opinions.
One of them said that the area of Educational Communication can be considered a newly-emerging stream of the two broader disciplines of Education and Communication and should be encouraged to be introduced as specialization or elective as it possesses a lot potential for future professional engagement in so many different fields.
He also said that it has been much helpful in finding out many of the 'barriers' in the teaching-learning process when it is put to practice because of their background in this particular field as many a times some of them arise from the communication point of view. Thus, the faculty members are confident that a combination of convenient methods and best practices of both these disciplines would yield the desirable results in future if properly put into the perspective with detailed planning..
While these faculty members may not possess formal academic qualifications in the field of Pedagogy yet, their efficiency in their own field – Communication and Media has been proving highly convenient and effective for adapting to the various aspects of the discipline of Education. So it can be termed as a judicious combination of both the fields towards being able to make meaningful and result-oriented benefits for the targeted audience.
Because, whatever advancement that has been achieved in any every discipline in this world need to be dedicated to the welfare of humankind in the final analysis. And unless it can be so achieved, what would be the ultimate utility of those findings and achievements. The success of all such initiatives have to be considered in terms of how much they have been able to contribute to the society at large.
So, from the interactions, following important aspects became clear ---
• Background in communication courses are and also would be highly-helpful and beneficial to all of them for communicating better in their chosen professional studies.
• It has equipped them with better communication skills in the process of honing their pedagogic efforts as full-time professionals,
• That various aspects of communication and its different areas should be made a part of the syllabus of all academic programmes in the field of Education right from undergraduate to higher levels.
• Also, there is need of more such components from Mass Communication in view of the significance of the discipline for the profession of Education. This can be in the form more Elective or Core courses from Communication discipline added to the Education syllabus as a whole.
Also, Education, like Communication is another vitally essential and integral aspect of human existence that encompasses each and every walk of our life. Without these two disciplines, human civilization would not be able to advance even a few points ever. Thus, it shall be urgently in the interest of the future of the upcoming generations as well as the planet earth that we prepare for a collaborative journey from now onwards.
Further, once the initiative has been launched, things can only be expected to improve over the passage of time with lot of scope for arriving at solutions whenever there might be a bottleneck at different points of time.
From the discussions above, it can be concluded that introduction of the Communication and Media aspects in the discipline of Education for facilitating the overall teaching-learning practice should be expanded by all counts. This shall lead to a synergy which would be of immense importance for facilitating the scope of the field of Education in the short as well as long run. In the process, both the disciplines shall gain from each other's experiences and repositories of knowledge already acquired. Hence, combining the best practices of both the sides, newer horizons shall be achieved in the times to come which would be a great service to the society at large. Further, in today's era of going for more and more interdisciplinary studies and activities this development can become a 'role model' for other disciplines also which are looking for such collaborations. Communication has an inherent advantage. That is, each and everything under the sun has to depend upon communication for getting across its messages or feelings. Similarly, the advantage of Education is that each and every activity in life can be considered as an educational aspect if observed properly in a detailed manner. This may be either as formal or informal education as the case may be. Thus, a meaningful combination of both of them would be the most ideal arena for disseminating the benefits of education to the masses anywhere across the globe.