– Dr Kuldeep Kumar Mehandiratta
Education system of a country determines its future. Ancient civilizations of the world have evolved education system according to their needs since the inception of human being on earth. Bharatiya system of education (Gurukula) since the age of Mahabharata and Ramayana has shown the path to the world.
Mahatma Gandhi has been torchbearer of Bharatiya Renaissance in the nineteenth and twentieth century. After Independence, Policymakers of our country could not implement his ideas on education, rather they followed Macaulay scheme of education. His ideas of education are more relevant today than earlier as he focused on comprehensive ‘development of the mind, body and soul. The ordinary system cares only for the mind’. (Harijan , 9-11-1947). He believes in establishing equilibrium between the body, the mind and the spirit.
“Gandhi was a man of great acumen. Articulating the problem of large population and unemployment, he recommended Bread labour, Kutir Udyog, vocational education and earning while learning in his education system. In his opinion, craft, art, health and education should all be integrated into one scheme.
Gandhi’s ‘Nai Talim or Basic Education is a beautiful blend of all the four and covers the whole education of the individual from the time of conception to the moment of death’. (Harijan, 10-11-1946) It is important to understand that Gandhi opposed only such mechanization, which would lead to increase unemployment.
Gandhi was staunch supporter of inculcating religious and moral values in education for Character building and comprehensive development of human personality. He was great advocate of Bharatiya ethos, hence he wanted to introduce Bharatiya cultural values of Satya, Ahimsa, Aprigraha, Asteya and Brahamcharya into education system.
In Harijan (23.03.1947), he asserted that ‘teaching of fundamental ethics is undoubtedly a function of the State’. He also believed that Bharatiya values were enough to enlighten and guide the whole world. He also ‘gave more importance to the cultural aspect of education than to the literary’. (Harijan, 5-5-1946)
Education in mother tongue or mother language or vernacular language is an important aspect of Gandhian education. Opposing the Macaulay system based on English language, Gandhi wrote in Young India, that the ‘highest development of the Indian mind must be possible without knowledge of English’. Gandhi was very aware about Anglophobia in Indians; hence, he was of the opinion that ‘in Ashram we must make it a point to learn as many Indian vernaculars as possible. The trouble of learning these languages is nothing compared to that of mastering English’.
In Harijan (09-07-1938), Gandhi expressed that the medium of instruction should be altered at once and at any cost, the provincial languages being given their rightful place’. Furthermore, he was ready to introduce strong changes in higher education too as in the same article he supported ‘temporary chaos in higher education to the criminal waste that is daily accumulating’.
Gandhian system of education aims to fill the gap between the city and the village, between the intellectual and manual workers and to build a classless society of his dreams. The great educationist Dewey once told Shriman Narayan that Gandhian system of education is one-step ahead of all other education systems prevailing in the world. It is full of immense potentialities and we all hope to learn much from India in this revolutionary effort.
Gunnar Myrdal, Swedish economist and sociologist, had also recommended to introduce Gandhian education for Indian primary and secondary schools. It is irony of the nation that the believers or followers of Gandhi forgot to the policies and teachings of this great visionary of the earth. Vidya Bharti and like-minded organisations are determined to fulfill Gandhian dream.
Gandhi and Vidya Bharti have same aims and objectives i.e. character building, comprehensive personality development, skill development, education in mother language, value education, women education, focus on Balika Shiksha, education for village and cities, removal of untouchability and promotion of equality, qualitative education, education as per Bharatiya cultural ethos and true participation of parents and society etc.