“The education that makes us neither competent nor teaches us lessons of equality and morality is no more education.” – Dr.Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
– Kuldeep Mehandiratt
Dr.Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is one of the makers of modern India. Born in a poor and deprived family, Dr. Ambedkar touched many heights in his life considered difficult for humans. He is considered among the most educated people of modern India. Dr.Ambedkar received his PhD in Economics from the prestigious Columbia University and renowned London School of Economics. Dr.Ambedkar is well-known all over the world as a skilled speaker, writer and enlightened scholar. His field of study was not limited to economics and law only, but he also had full authority on subjects like education, sociology, constitution, political science, religion and philosophy. Mahatma Buddha, Jyotiba Phule, Sahu Ji Maharaj, renowned educationist Professor John Dewey, Elvin Seligman and Booker T. Washington had great influence on the life of Doctor Ambedkar. Dr.Ambedkar, who had been associated with education for a lifetime, is a philosophy in itself. The study of his ideas towards education is very essential to understand the nature and the progress of education in our society. His main ideas about education are:
Social emancipation: The very objective of education is to bring social, economic and political transformation of individual. Dr Ambedkar was a staunch opponent of casteism, untouchability, social discrimination, social inequality, women inequality, etc. He considered education very important to eliminate existing social inequality and social injustice in Indian society and to establish equality, brotherhood, co-existence and mutual acceptance in society. He believed that ‘Education is not only the birth right of every human being but also a weapon of social change.’
Universalisation of education: Dr Ambedkar was eminent supporter of his mentor John Dewey’s view of democratisation of education. A large section of the people of India remained deprived of the right to education for a long time due to the prevailing social inequality in India. Dr.Ambedkar was of the view that education is the birth right of every person and nobody can be denied to attain this right. Therefore, a democratic country should give the right to education to all in its society without any discrimination.
Women education: delivering a lecture on 20th July 1942 at Nagpur, he said, “I measure the progress of community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.” He was clear that if half of the country’s population remains uneducated, then India, no country in the world can progress. Being a true patriot and social reformer, Dr. Ambedkar was a strong supporter of women’s education. He was well aware that for the progress of the society and the development of the country, it is very important for women to be educated. He observed that ‘Education is as necessary for females as it is for males. It you know how to read and write, there would be much progress.’
Role of women in social emancipation through education: Dr.Ambedkar regarded educated women as being able to play a very important role in social change. Being a mother, she is nearest to the children in a family, and she is the child’s first teacher. They can incorporate positive values and virtues in their children. Therefore, he motivated the women to get educated. He said ‘I shall tell you a few things which I think you should bear in mind. Learn to be clean; keep free from all vices. Give education to your children. Instil ambition in them. Inculcate on their minds that they are destined to be great. Remove from them all inferiority complexes.
Emphasis on moral education and character building: Dr.Ambedkar regarded that education without moral values cannot be called education in real sense. He firmly believed that if due importance to moral values and character building is not given in educating the people, then such an educated person will not be of any use to society. Addressing the Bombay province Depressed Classes Youth Conference 12th February 1938, he stated that ‘An educated man without character and humility is more dangerous than a beast. If his education is detrimental to the welfare of the poor, the educated man is a curse to society… Character is more important than education.’
Religion and culture in education: Many scholars believe that Dr Ambedkar not only rejected religion and culture, but he also endorsed the popular quotation of Karl Marx considering ‘Religion as the People’s Opium.’ Yet in fact, he considered religion and culture as essentials to education. There is no doubt however he was against social injustice and rituals in the name of religion. He highlighted the importance of religion as ‘what good things I have in me or whatever have been the benefits of my education to society, I owe them to the religious feelings in me, I want religion but I do not want hypocrisy in the same of religion.’
Job-oriented and skill-based education: An important aim of education is to make a person capable of earning a living or making him self-dependent. Dr.Ambedkar acknowledged that employment or earning livelihood is very important in a person’s life. He believed that education would be considered completed only when some skill would be associated with it and such skill would generate some employment for the person. Hence, he emphasized on technical education and considered it necessary for the rise of the deprived and backward classes in the society.
Importance to mother-tongue and foreign language: Language is the main tool of education. The fundamental principle of education is that if education is provided in the child’s mother tongue then it is easy for the child to understand. Dr Ambedkar advocated mother tongue teaching but at the same time he required each student to have knowledge of at least one foreign language. So that he can know the development happening in his subject at global level and understand what is happening in the whole world. Moreover, many people are unfamiliar that Dr Ambedkar proposed to make Sanskrit language as national language or language of state in the Constituent Assembly meeting.
Role of a teacher: Dr.Ambedkar considered the teacher essential for the overall development of the student. He believed that if we have good teachers, then we will be able to create good students. He had great regard for the teachers and was supported giving a high place to the teachers. He was of the view that teacher plays the most important role in the development of a healthy and complete human personality. A good teacher should have positive and egalitarian attitude towards all sections of the society. he recommended that qualifications and other abilities of teachers should be checked exclusively while appointing them in schools or universities.
To conclude, it can be said that educational philosophy of Dr Ambedkar is the blend of ancient and modern education. The contribution of Dr.Ambedkar is significant as he highlighted the requirement of educational development of a large section of Indian society that has long been deprived of education. Dr.Ambedkar played a major role in formulating many laws of education and social emancipation of downtrodden people at the time of constitution-making. It’s important to realize that if a large part of society is deprived of education, then society will never be able to develop holistically. Bridging the social divide is very necessary, otherwise social harmony cannot be established in society. Dr Ambedkar therefore stressed that the state should provide the people with universal qualitative education and also provide technical education so that social and economic equality can be established in our society and our country can make progress.