In 1937, Gandhiji, evolved a scheme popularly known as the Wardha Scheme of Basic National Education.This Wardha scheme was based on same principles of education which were listed by Gandhiji in a paper in 1932 in Yervada Jail. These postulates were as follows:
1. Boys and girls should be taught together.
2. Their time should be mostly spent on manual work under the supervision of the teacher. Manual work should be considered as part of education.
3.Work should be entrusted to each boy and girl after ascertaining his or her inclinations.
4. The child know the why and the wherefore of every process.
5. General knowledge should be imparted to the child as soon as it is able to understand things. This knowledge should precede literary education.
6. The hand of the child be trained to draw geometrical figures before he learn to write, that its good handwriting should be taught from the beginning.
7. The child should learn to read before he is able to write, i.e., he should learn to recognize letters as if they were pictures and then draw their figures.
8. By this method and by word of mouth, the child should acquire much knowledge before he is eight years old.
9. Children should not be compelled to learn anything.
10.The child should be interested in whatever he learns.
11.The process of teaching should be conducted in a play-way, for play is an essential part of education.
12.All education should be imparted through the mother tongue of the child.
13. Every Indian child should learn Hindi-Urdu, i.e., Hindustani as a national language before his literary training commences.
14. The second stage of the child’s education begins when he is eleven and lasts up to sixteen.
15. Manual labour has a place in education during this period also. The time for literary training should be increased according to need.
16. The child should learn some vocation as preparation for his future life.
17.He should acquire a general knowledge of World History, Geography, Botany, Astronomy, Arithmetic, Geometry and Algebra.
18. A boy or a girl of sixteen years should know sewing and cooking.
19. In the third stage which begins at sixteen and ends at twenty-five, a young man or woman should receive education according to his or her desires and circumstances.
20.The education commencing at the age of nine should be self-supporting. The student, while he is learning,should be engaged in such a vocation that its produce might meet the expense of the school.
21. Production should, no doubt, begin right from the start. But it may be enough to meet the expenses during the initial years.
22. Teachers cannot possibly have big salaries, but they must get enough to maintain themselves. A spirit of service should animate them. They must have a good character.
23. Huge and costly buildings are not necessary for education.
24. English can and should have a place in the syllabus only as a language. Just as Hindi is our lingua franca.English is a language of international intercourse and commerce.
On 23rd October 1937, a conference was organized at Wardha to finalize the basic system of education. This conference resolved that the children should be provided free education for seven years. Mother tongue should be the medium of education. Every student must be taught some basic craft. Production in the school. In orderto implement these recommendations a committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Dr. Zakir Hussain.This committee highlighted the basic principles, aims and organization of Basic Education in its first report on 2nd December 1937. In its second report in 1940 this committee reviewed the curriculum of Basic Education.Indian National Congress accepted its recommendations in its Session at Haripura. After Zakir Hussian Committee, another committee was formed under the Chairmanship of B.G. Kher to review basic education.
Means of Education
The scheme of Basic Education clarifies the means of education according to M.K. Gandhi. The most important means of education in basic scheme was craft. About this means of education Gandhiji said, “The principal idea is to impart the whole education of body and the mind and the soul through the handicraft that is taught to the children. You have to draw out all that is in the child through teaching all the processes of the handicraft, and all your lessons in History, Geography, Arithmetic will be related to the craft.” It was pointed out that the following criteria should be followed in deciding about the basic craft:
1. Craft fulfilling individual and social means.
2. Craft based upon local requirements.
3. Craft in tune with the local conditions.
4. Craft favorable to the interest, aptitude and ability of the child.
5. Craft leading to all-round development of personality’s
Another important element in the means of education in basic scheme was synthesis between the actual problems of life and education, between different subjects of the curriculum and finally between theoretical educational and practical ability. In order to implement the principle of synthesis in basic education it was insisted that the teachers and students should together formulate yearly projects divided into quarterly,monthly, weekly and daily projects.
Medium of Education
A staunch supporter of mother tongue as the medium of education, Gandhiji said, “ I must cling to my mother tongue as to my mother’s breast, in spite of its shortcomings. It alone can give me the life giving milk.”He was vehemently against English as the medium of education in this country. He said. “To inflict English on children is to stunt their natural growth and perhaps to kill originality in them”. He maintained that our insistence on English is a remnant of our long slavery to the British. He maintained that the national language alone could be the vehicle of creating a common culture and rich literature. He was very much conversant with the language problem in India. He wanted to keep the county united particularly from the point of view of language. Therefore, he devised a common national language Hindustani that may be written in both Devanagari and Persian script. According to him there is no difference in Hindi and Urdu.
Characteristics of Gandhian Educational Plan
M.K. Gandhi viewed the process of education from many different angles and saw that it must achieve something more than one objective. That is why he ascribed to it many different aims. At times a superficial study of these aims may give the impression that they are mutually contradictory or self-defeating, but a deeper examination will show that they complement each other. Gandhiji’s educational plan exhibits all the major qualities found in the Western educational patterns. For this reason, the following points must be kept in mind in attempting an evaluation of his plan:
1. Naturalism : Gandhiji’s educational philosophy gives due recognition to biological naturalism because it lays stress on man’s complete development. He laid more stress on the child’s environment than on books.He wanted to give an indigenous touch to education, and make it capable of achieving independence and naturalness. But, at the same time, he did not neglect discipline. His education is centered on the child, not around textbooks.
2. Idealism : On the one hand one finds a strong element of realism in Gandhiji’s philosophy of educationbut on the other it also exhibits some signs of idealism. There is no denying that he was always an idealistbecause he always was a religious individual. He felt that the aim of man’s life was realization of God, and that is why he stressed the importance of moral and religious education. He wanted to use education as a means of developing a harmonized personality in the child. Like Pestelozzi, he wanted to make the child the center of educational progress and like Herbart he felt that the aim of education was building up a moral character. He attached the greatest importance to the child’s interests and inclinations.
3. Pragmatism : Despite his inclination towards idealism, Gandhiji always attended to the practical aspect of education. That is why he entitled his autobiography ‘My Experiments with Truth’. In keeping with the pragmatic tradition he also believed that the child should gather for himself all the knowledge from the environment and select from it that which he should put to use in later life. Like Dewey, Gandhiji also feltthat that child should learn through actual work besides, he also agreed with Dewey that education should seek to establish the democratic values in life. In short, he wanted to relate education to life as far as possible.
4. Educational system is based on psychological facts : Although Gandhiji was not a professional psychologist, he had gained remarkable insight into human psychology through his acute observation of lifearound him. He felt that education should aim at arousing curiosity and providing motivation to the child sothat he should himself achieve his own physical, mental and spiritual development. He was very much in favour of the students indulging in games and sports and gymnastic activity, because he felt that physical development is an essential prerequisite of mental development. He also felt that education should not be allowed to become mechanical but should be acquired through play.
5. Importance of impressions and actions : Gandhiji’s opinion that impressions of early childhood have a tremendous impact on later development is in agreement with the modern psychologists. Most educationists agree that learning through doing helps in the complete development of the child and that this also enables him to earn his livelihood later in life.
6. Sociological importance of Gandhiji’s plan : Gandhiji’s plan of education is not only psychologically validbut it has sociological significance also. While thinking of his plan of education, Gandhiji was not concerned with one or two individuals, but with the vast multitude of illiterate men and women who make up the country’s population. He advocated discipline as an essential part of freedom and liberty. He wanted that education should help the individual to become an ideal democratic citizen. He stressed the importance of social service, labour, agriculture, handicrafts, hygiene, collective living, etc. and pointed out that they were more important than any curriculum. Sarvodaya was as much his guiding principle in education as it the field of politics. This concept of a Sarvodaya Society was based on traditional Indian and modern democratic values.
7. Education conforming to the country’s needs : Whatever the arguments one may advance againstGandhiji’s plan of education one cannot question his sincerity, because it is only too obvious that in presenting it, he was perfectly aware of the needs of his countrymen. He considered this the only kind of education, which can be successful in this country. Most villagers cannot afford to pay for their children’s education and in addition most of them require their children’s assistance in their own occupations. Ganhiji wanted the students to be engaged in gainful work the product of which could be sold to pay for his education.
8. Teaching Methods : The teaching methods in the Gandhian scheme of education can be deduced from his Basic Education. As has been pointed out, Gandhiji pleaded that the child should be educated through a basic craft. He should first be tought a basic craft from among the different types of it and other subjects such as Arithmetic, Language, Geography, History and Civics should be taught in association with the basic craft. In his educational institutions children were busy in craft activities for hours.
As has already been pointed out an important characteristic of the teaching method in Gandhian scheme was synthesis. Projects were drawn for the years, quarter, month, week and the day.