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Gandhiji’s Vision of Education in India

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Er. Prabhat Kishore

Education play a pivotal role in the well-being of a country. The pathway to human development goes through the lanes of education. As highly a society is educated, so much developed that region is said to be. In British India, the Macaulay’s Education policy was introduced not for the development of people’s intellectual power, but only to constitute a gang of literates, whose heart and mind be that of an English man.
Gandhiji’s vision of education aimed at all-round development of personality, hence he gave emphasis on education which leads to develop physical, mental, social & spiritual power in the child. For him literacy is neither beginning nor end of education, but is only means by which people can be educated. Hence, in addition to 3 R’s of education, he emphasized for 3 H’s i.e. Head, Heart and Hand too. He advocated free and compulsory education to all boys & girls of age group 7-14 years. He was of strong view that up to primary level, medium of education must be the mother tongue of the learners.
Gandhiji’s ideas and thinkings on education was a novel one. He wanted moral education containing ethical values of truth, non-violence, charity, patriotism and others. For him, an education without character building was in vain. He has strong opinion that sound education must be rooted in country’s culture & civilization and should be related to local environmemt.
Indian freedom fighters were fully aware of the drawbacks of Macaulay propagated education system in the country. In 1931, at Round Table Conference in London, Gandhi pointed out the ineffectiveness of primary education in India and stressed on educating the children through manual work, not as a side activity but as a prime means of intellectual activities.
On July 31, 1937 Gandhiji has published his views regarding education in his renowned weekly “Harijan”. On 22-23 October 1937, India National Education Conference was held at Wardha under his leadership, in which resolution for education in national context was passed. A committee headed Dr. Zakir Hussain, the then principal of Jamia Milia and lateron third President of Indian Republic, formulated the education plan on the basis of the resolution, which have been popularized as “Buniyadi Shiksha”.
The word “Buniyadi” has been derived from the word “Buniyad”, which means the foundation upon which the whole thing rests and Gandhiji wanted to make the foundation of the educational edifice strong and durable. With such objective he put forward this scheme of education, which aims at making a child self-reliant by enabling him to use his acquired knowledge and skills in practical affairs of life.
The salient features of Buniyadi Shiksha are :- (1) Free & compulsory education for age group 7 to 14 years, (2) The curriculum should be of 7 years duration, which lateron refined for 8 years i.e. 6 to 14 years with junior stage covering 5 years & senior 3 years, (3) Medium of instruction should be mother tongue and study of Hindi should be compulsory, (4) Education should be centered around some forms of manual and productive work and it should be job-oriented and self-sustained, so that the child may become self-dependent in life, (5) Cleanliness, health, citizenship, work and workshop, play and recreation should be given proper emphasis, (6) The girl students can opt for home science in place of crafts, (7) There will be no place for English and Religious teaching in thecurriculum, (8) Textbook should be avoided as far as possible, (9) There should be no external examination and only internal evaluation based on day to day activity will be done.
The “Buniyadi Shiksha” yojana was approved at Haripura session of Congress in 1938, but due to resignation of Congress provincial governments, its implementation hampered. In the meantime, various other committees were formed and recommendations were suggested. The conference of 1945 at Sevagram characterized Buniyadi Shiksha as “Education for All”. In 1946, a conference of education ministers was called by Sri B.G. Kher and ultimately “Buniyadi Shiksha” took final shape after a decade of rigorous experimentation, discussion and suggestion.
After independence, the “Buniyadi Shiksha” was accepted as national policy of education. In 1956, the “Buniyadi Shiksha evaluation committee” headed by G. Ramchandran strongly recommended to transform all primary schools in to the Buniyadi set up. But both the systems were kept aliveside by side by the Western psyche education machinery. Although in early years of independence Buniyadi Vidyalayas were increased, but in a minimal number. Government started opening of primary and middle schools in place of Buniyadi Vidyalayas and due to apathy and step-motherly attitude of western minded government machinery, these vidyalayas of Gandhi’s dream were ruined.
India got independence, but psychology of the government machinery remain unaltered. Some drawbacks have been incorporated by the critics of Buniyadi Shiksha, namely school turning into small scale industry, dependency of teachers upon earnings of students, neglect of liberal education, imbalance between vocational and intellectual education, lack of finance, absence of sound administrative policy etc. Buniyadi Shiksha was regarded as inferior type of education meant for poor by the urban people, who sent their children to modern public schools.
After 72 years of India’s independence, major part of its citizens realized that the curriculum and subjects, they have been taught for years, have no utility in their current job, works or means of livelihood. They found themselves empty-handed and chitted. The prevailing theoretical education system leaves a student without skill, who either have to expend some more years to acquire some professional skill or have to wait for lucky chance of getting job. Present apathetic attitude of students towards general courses in schools/colleges and inclination towards professional or vocational courses has once again affirmed the ineffectiveness of British model of education.
The fundamental principles of Buniyadi Vidyalaya are still valid and worthwhile in the context of present educational reform. They are relevant as guiding principles of modern education. It is need of the hour that the curriculum of Buniyadi Shikha be reformed on modern lines and implemented all over India. Undoubtedly, it will serve as one of the most fascinating and beneficial techniques of education at elementary stage.
“Learning through doing and earning while learning” was the motto of Gandhi’s vision. He advocated that a student should resort to manual work as against mere bookish knowledge. He emphasized on vocational and functional education to increase efficiency within students, which ultimately will be helpful in making Indian villages self-reliant and self-sufficient.
(The author is a technocrat & academician).


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