ARTICLES : Gandhian view on Education

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Gandhiji’s Basic Education: A Medium of Value Education

By Dr. Sitaram P. Deshmukh

The function of education is to created ideal citizens. Ideal means an individual is overwhelming with virtues and is always well behaved. Idol citizens are the pre-requisite for coherent and comprehensive development. The education to produce the best citizens means the education of the hearts of people. This expects education to changes the hearts of individuals.
Explaining the meaning of genuine education Mahatma Gandhiji says, “Genuine education does not consist of cramming a lot of information and numbers in mind. Nor it lies in passing the examination by reading a number of books, but it lies in developing character. It is a real education which inculcates internal virtues (values) in human beings. If you can develop such virtues, it will be the best education”.
“Education is a process of comprehensive development of the best things (point, parts) lying in the mind and soul of children or men and bringing them out”1 Gandhiji has shown the royal path to us and to the world to observe and implement the lofty virtues and daily life practice by setting an example of himself by putting in to practice those ideals in his daily life activities. Value education means the education that teaches to put the virtues and values in to practices.
According to the concept of value education giving by great Indian thinkers like Gandhiji, Gurudev Tagore, Dr. Radhakrushnan, Maharshi, Arvind, Swami Vivekanand and the values presented by the National Education commission and NEP 1986, it is made clear that value education means-

  • Morality, equanimity, sympathy and spiritual development education.
  • Education of development of virtues like simplicity, freedom, laboriousness, aesthetic sense etc.
  • Education of universal values like truth and non- violence.
  • Education for noble embellishment, expression of basic growth by good conduct and change of heart.
  • Education for development humanity broad mindedness, serviceability fearlessness (boldness), honesty, devotion, respect, co-operation, sense of responsibility etc.
  • Education for integrity and democratic sense development. There lies the opportunity for all the above values to develop in basic Education.

Development values through Basic Education:
Gandhiji was a great revolutionary person. He had deeply thought over all the aspects (factors) relating to life. He has show a new path for solution of problems of entire world by placing the universal human values at social and national level.
Gandhiji happened to read Ruskin’s “Unto the Last” given by Polak during the train journey in South-Africa. Its impact on Gandhiji was miraculous. Gandhiji found three doctrines of universal welfare (Sarvodaya) from this book. They are as under.

  1. “Welfare of all (universal welfare) is our welfare.
  2. The work of a barber and lawyer should be equality appraised because the right of livelihood is equal for all.
  3. Simple and laborious life of a farmer is the real life”.2

Gandhiji set up Phoenix Ashram (hermitage) in south-Africa to apply these doctrines in daily practice. He took up experiments of education, thus it can be said that the seeds of educational thoughts were in Gandhiji in South-Africa. He conducted Educational experiment at phoenix Ashram and Tolstoy wadi (Garden) in South-Africa.These include:

  • Education for character building, education thought mother-tongue.
  • Place of manual work in education and co-education.
  • Hostel residence and community life.
  • Moral education though character and good conduct.
  • Educational of soul should be imparted thought teacher’s (model) life rather than through books.
  • Health education for physical fitness and health and insistence for simple life.
  • Importance for self-help and self-reliance, education for thoroughness (strength), education for citizenship.
  • Education for self-help and self-reliance, education for personality development.
  • Education for avoiding caste and colour distinction, education for vocation useful for life.
  • Education for equality of all the religions, education based (founded) on truth, non-violence and justice”.

Gandhiji held educational experiment at Shantiniketan, Kocharab Ashram, Sabarmati Ashram and Gujarat Vidhyapeeth after returning form South-Africa, and gave a new vision (philosophy) of education to educational world by placing “Vardha educational Scheme” before the nation in 1937.
The report of “Vardha Education Schme-1937 include ( covered) only the primary stage of education. But in 1945, Gandhiji put the concept of “comprehensive basic Education (Samagra Nai Talim) Training before the nation”.
The five national values presented under the title of national Panchsheel included in NPE 1986 viz (1) Cleanliness (2) Truthfulness (3) Hardwork (4) equality and (5) co-operation are naturally developed in basic education.
In basic education system it is recommended to impart education thought mother tongue and if is already so. Gnadhiji, too believed that the foundation of education should be laid through mother tongue. It helps inculcating values like love towards mother tongue and Swadeshi (native).
Education through industry is the basic principal of basic education, Basic education, because it help developing values like respect for manual labour, sense of co-operation, feeling of being mutually helpful through manual work, development of friendship feeling, economical self-reliance, team spirit and sincerity.
Today we have forgotten self-help (self-labour) I education. As a result children seem to be lacking behind in routine dealing skills in daily life. Present education has become examination centered. Due to this curiously enough a student, fluently uttering any principal of since, answer of questions of history or fluently reciting any of the Gujarati poems becomes nervous when the fuse of home light burns or a nail of shoe is dropped out. Everybody must learn to do his/her own work by him/herself.
Present children seem to understand that clearing house, sweeping room, cleansing room with wet cloth, cleaning vessels; washing clothes are the foundations of work women. Such mis-concept of child’s mind prevents their comprehensive development. Such misconnect will be removed only when self-labour will be given an important place in education.
Self- labour is given an important place in basic education. Here children do as many activities as possible on their own accord. As a result, values like exertion, efforts, courage, initiation, respect for manual labour, self-confidence and self-confidence and self-dependence etc. develop automatically in children.
Basic education imparts children training of self-reliance. One of the four major resolutions formed by Vardha Parishad reads thus: “During the entire time period, the centre of education must be some type of physical and (useful) productive work, and the abilities of children should be developed and education should be imported as far as possible in co-ordination with the central major industry selected by them and keeping in view the environment of children” in this productivity is directly connected with self-reliance.
Gandhiji has said in context of self reliance. “I would prefer to start a child’s education after teaching him some useful manual industry and enabling him for some innovative creation. Every school can be self-reliant”.7 Education should offer a child such a strength that he can be free form tension about his future (i.e. What to do?) at the end of education. Shastri Jayendra Dave while explaining the meaning of self-dependence says, Self-dependence means relief from economical, social, mental or any type of surjection - individual’s being self-reliant. An individual should acquire three-fold independence (self-reliance) after completing education”8 that is why Gandhiji had advocated education through industry, so that the individual can stand on his legs (be –self-reliant), that is he/she can be self-dependent, self-reliant.
Collective (inseparable) education, too, has been given place as important as industry and community life. Saint Vinobajee has said. “The learning process between teacher and student is not possible without harmony among (home) family, society, environment, and embellishment. If even one of them is absent, it raises a risk of failure of education exereise”19 That is way Gandhiji has show us the path of comprehensive education generated by experience through perceptible functions or industry going to the open environmental rather than the education process in a close room of four walls.
Thus education thought comprehensive education system leads to the promotion of values. Like environmental preservation, human viewpoint, awareness of social accountability and social service.
In basic education Gandhiji has given the same importance to community life as to industry as a medium of education. Education thought community life develops in children the qualities like team spirit should to shoulder work that is co-operation and a sense of mutual help. A Children acquires competence of social adjustment thought community life. In traditional education system, only class-room teaching talks place collectively. There too, the education is being imparted through talking or lecture method rather than activities. As a result the development of sociability in children does not reach the expected level.
While in the other hand, in Gandhiji basic education system, the education of community life is imparted through perceptible activity of daily life dealings and various activities of industry. Daily activities of school and laborious, creative and productive activities of hand industry have been made a medium of community education. Thus a child naturally develops sociability. Ashrami (Residential) Education has been given a crucial place in basic education Present residential education has its roots in our ancient Indian culture. Gandhiji said, “I erect an Ashram wherever I go, as if I don’t know anything else”. This is true. This ‘Ashram’ Itself becomes the form of education. In our country there prevailed an Indian traditional of this Ashrami education in ‘Penance forest’ (ascetics dwelling) and ‘Gurukul’.
Gandhiji comes and conducted experiment as to what Ashrami education can be suitable to modern circumstance (time and place), wherever he went. According to him, “Ashram was his laboratory of education”. In Ashrami education system, the education for comprehensive development of children isimparted through co-curricular activities like community life, mass prayer, common dinner, physical exercise, team works, games and sports, assignment (homework), cultural programmes, celebration of special days, and creative programmes.
Ashrami (residential) education is necessary in Basic Education. Children arise in the early morning, complete their routine work and recite collective all religions prayer is recited in the evening, too, at the hostel. Collective (mass) prayer programme is inevitably implemented in school also. This helps cultivating values like spiritual values, non-indulgence in taste, non-stealing (not using more than one’s needs), non-violence, outlook of equality to words all religious, honestly, holiness, peace in children.
During hostel residential children take up various activities in various teams or collectively. These include room cleaning, ground cleaning, dining hall cleaning, toilet and urinal cleaning, fetching water, cooking activities, corn cleaning, watering plants, beside there own (personal) activities like washing cloth, taking bath etc. In short, training of all the functions related to life is imparted in basic education system. Due to this, values like cleanliness, self-reliance, labour, team spirit, co-operation, endurance power, loyalty, good conduct, honestly, duty observance (discipline), obedience, time-keeping, Exercises, games and sport related to physical education are also organized with a view to developing health related values in children.
In basic education, various celebrations such as national festivals, birth anniversary, death anniversary, parents (guardians) day, self-education day, environment day, world population day and such other days are celebrated. Cultural programmes are organized on such occasions. Moreover, creative programmes given by Gandhiji such as village cleaning, prevention of untouchability, communal unity, prohibition (of alcoholic drinks) Khadi activities, adult education, women uplift, health education, nursing of lepers, addiction relief, etc. are celebrated in basic schools as well as in community and hostels. All these help developing moral values, spiritual values, social values, national values, cultural values and individual values naturally among children. Thus basic education is such a medium through which values useful for the life are naturally developed among children.

Source: ‘Ailaan’ Vol. I, Phase III, March 2010

Dr. Sitaram P Deshmukh, Assistant Professor, Shikshan Mahavidyalaya, Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Ahmedabad.