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BASIC EDUCATION SCHEME OF MAHATMA GANDHI

Mahatma Gandhi was very much aware of the needs of the country illiteracy and poverty was
plaguing India and steps needed to be taken to ensure that the situation was not the same in
independent India. According to him, a proper of system of basic education is the way out to the vices
that was gripping India and that would eventually come in the way of its development. The series of
article written in the Harijan on education formed a basis of education that he had complete faith in.
He realised that to have a proper system of education, the nation had to have a strong monetary and
fiscal condition. In other words, education was dependent on money. To find a constructive way out
of this, he suggested that education to be self-sufficient. Thus, education would be a two-fold policy.
It would not only provide literacy but also a self sufficiency that would be helpful to the education
system and also to the literate individual.
In 1937, at the national conference at Wardha, under Gandhis leadership and in consideration of his
ideas, the following ideas were passed:

Free and compulsory education must be provided for seven years on a nation-wide scale.

The medium of instruction should be in the mother-tongue

Some sort of technical training should be provided so that the students would be able to
become self-sufficient in their future. The same craft practised ion the school would also help in the
sustaining of the school.

Through a gradual but steady policy, this system would also be able to cover the remuneration
of the teachers.
This scheme of education also came to be known as the Nai Talim or the basic education. Nai
pointed out that it is the new way of education and talim stands for apprenticeship. The students
would be an apprentice and would master a craft that would help the student to establish his own
livelihood. Basic would also stand for fundamentals. Thus this scheme of education was based on the
national culture and civilization of India.
Mahatma Gandhi believed that education should be able to bring out the best of the child and the
man in the Body, the Mind and the Spirit. Literacy is not the end of education but rather it is the way
to which a sustainable way of education is taken up the road just begun and it continues as a person
gets to know more about oneself.
Education should help the citizens of India to be self-sufficient. It should enable a boy or a girl to
develop a certain amount of self-reliance which would help in the earning of a livelihood. This was the
reason why Gandhiji placed so much stress on the industrial training of the child so that he becomes
acquainted with the real life. He wanted the education to become the means of producing ideal

citizens. Seeing the epidemic of poverty that was plaguing India, he suggested that education should
be based on industrial training and the development of manual skill and handicrafts.
Gandhiji believed that education centres round the child. He impressed upon people that the cultural
aspect of education is more important than the literary aspect, because it is through the cultural
aspect that the child learns to develop his character and ideals. He was a supporter of the ancient
Indian ideals of education. Gandhiji addressed the importance of thought, word and deed, nonviolence and truth.
It is clear from the foregoing account that Gandhijis viewed education from a comprehensive or
broadminded standpoint. Any education that develops only one aspect of the child can be dubbed as
narrow and one-sided. Thus, Gandhiji states that education must make the individual to live and earn
his daily bread, to be the means of his sustenance. In a way Gandhiji synthesized the individual and
social aims of education. Like Vivekananda, Gandhiji maintained that character formation and manual
skill were equally important. Gandhijis plan of education laid stress on all types of education
physical, mental, moral, aesthetic and religious.
The scheme of the basic education clarifies the means of education. According to Gandhiji, the most
important means of education in basic scheme was craft. About this means of education, Gandhiji said
The principle idea is to impart the whole education of the body and the mind and the soul through
the handicraft that I taught to the children. You have to draw out all that is in the child through
teaching all the processes of handicraft and all your lessons in history geography, arithmetic will be
related to the craft. Thus, some handicraft was necessary to be the centre of childs education.
Besides other craft recommended were: weaving, carpentry agriculture gardening and other
handicrafts and other rural crafts. It was pointed out that the following criteria should be followed in
deciding about the basic craft:

Craft fulfilling individual and social means.

Craft based upon local requirement.

Craft in tune with local conditions

Craft favourable to the interest, aptitude and the ability of the child

Less expensive and simple craft

Craft leading to all round development of personality.

But Gandhis revolutionary educational policy has been criticized as being medieval and impractical.
One of the first criticisms that faced this Nai talim was that there was a dearth of teachers
teachers who were artisans and artisans who were also teachers. And to create a new pedigree of
teachers for India would be extraordinarily difficult. Professor K.T. Shah who was a part of the

Wardha conference and the only member to oppose it made it quite clear that this scheme would
require huge amount business acumen of management of goods and their sale. An embargo against
foreign goods would be in keeping with the nationalistic feelings but it this policy would also harm the
existing professional artisans and give them competition. In an article in Harijan an anonymous reader
pointed out that this would legalize child labour and schools and colleges should be places where the
young minds should be taught about the values rather than the prices. Rabindranath Tagore pointed
out that this teaching does not promote the childs aesthetic and creative powers and assume that
material utility, rather than development of personality, is the end of education.

The kind of social transformation that Gandhi was calling for was primarily an inner moral
transformation, one which placed as paramount the need for a conscious simplicity and self-imposed
limitation. This limitation Gandhis scheme on the intellectual, scientific, economic and even social
spheres were therefore clearly unacceptable to the modernist mindset. The question that was asked:
who would seriously want to give up the manifold benefits of modern life and take up a hard life of
manual work? In contrast to Gandhis radical policy of change, his detractors of the educational
policy would see it to be medieval and conservative. But the dominant nationalistic feelings and to
some extent the politics of the dominant elite political class would combat the Gandhian opponents
and create a middle path for the basic education. But by the very act of negating the voice of the
Other, by trying to efface it, they contributed to its recognition.

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