Most mainstream institutes propose reform and lecture about the different reform movements and reformists that our history have seen, but, what we all by default tend to forget is that the first ever reformist was the educator.
Rapid social change is a fact of our times. Some changes are being controlled, blocked or facilitated by legislation. Other changes take place under the guidance of social workers or health officers. Such changes are mapped, studied or planned by the social scientist. Religion sometimes can effect change by appealing to the conscience of mankind. And there are those who dare to assert that education has some effect on social change!
What is social change? Why do we need a change in the society? Answers to these are simple. Social change is a change in the people, in their relationships with each other and with the things in the environment. A change is deemed necessary when society refuses to discard the old and accept the new. It is during such a phase that education is the only dependable institution. The educator is the pillar that bears the responsibility of making education a dependable institution.
What is the educator’s responsibility? Educators and teachers must have a voice in how the society is reformed. It is upon the teachers to develop a child’s thinking, feeling and willing forces. Educators need to develop children into independent individuals. For this, the cultural realm in schools needs to be independent. If this is completely achieved then the role of education in social change is understood to be totally fulfilled.
The role of education as an agent or instrument of social change and social development is widely recognized today. Social change may take place – when humans need change. When the existing social system or network of social institutions fails to meet the existing human needs and when new materials suggest better ways of meeting human needs.
Education is seen as a major vector in society, but that it is largely allocated a conservative role, since its main function is in the socialization of the young and the maintenance of the social order. During times of rapid social change, such as the second half of the 20th century, the role of education in the service of the nation is emphasized. When things are going well, especially economically, more experimentation with education is supported, and more idealistic goals are pursued, such as equity of educational opportunity. It is in the ideological and moral spheres, however, that education is most clearly expected to play a leading role. Social change takes place as a response to many types of changes that take place in the social and nonsocial environment. Education can initiate social changes by bringing about a change in outlook and attitude of man. It can bring about a change in the pattern of social relationships and thereby it may cause social changes.
Modernization of education is the call of the hour. Education has been accepted as one major agency of socialization, and teachers and educational institutions as socializing agents. In describing education as an instrument of social change, three things are important: the agents of change, the content of change, and the social background of those who are sought to be changed, i.e. students. Educational institutions under the control of different cultural groups reflect the values of those groups which support and control education. In this situation, teachers impart specific values and aspirations to the children.
Education has become one of the influential instruments of social change. If the modernization of education is achieved by over-lapping all obstacles of religion, legislation, financial assistance and the diverse culture, then, education would definitely be a force possessing more power in society and social changes.