Gandhiji’s vision of education in India

Prabhat Kishore
Contd from previous issue
The “Buniyadi Shiksha” yojana was approved at Haripura session of Congress in 1938, but due to resignation of Congress provincial Governments, its implemen-tation  was hampered. In the meantime, various other committees were formed and recommendations were suggested. The conference of 1945 at Sevagram characterized Buniyadi Shiksha as  “Education for All”.  In 1946, a conference of Education Ministers was called by Sri  BG  Kher and ultimately “Buniyadi Shiksha”  took final shape after a decade of rigorous experimentations, discussions and suggestions.
After independence, the “Buniyadi Shiksha” was accepted as National policy of education. In 1956, the “Buniyadi Shiksha evaluation committee” headed by G Ramchandran strongly recommended to transform all primary schools to the Buniyadi set up. But both the systems were kept alive side by side by the Western psyche education machinery. Although in early years of independence Buniyadi Vidyalayas were increased, but in a minimal number. Government started opening of primary and middle schools in place of Buniyadi Vidyalayas and due to apathy and step-motherly attitude of western minded Government machinery, these vidyalayas of Gandhi’s dream were ruined.
India got independence, but psychology of the Government machinery remained unaltered. Some drawbacks have been incorporated by the critics of Buniyadi Shiksha, namely school turning into small scale industry, dependency of teachers upon earnings of students, neglect of liberal education, imbalance between vocational and intellectual education, lack of finance, absence of sound administrative policy etc. Buniyadi Shiksha was regarded as inferior type of education meant for poor by the urban people, who sent their children to modern public schools.
After 72 years of India’s independence, major part of its citizens realized that the curriculum and subjects, they have been taught for years, have no utility in their current job, works or means of livelihood. They found them- selves empty-handed. The prevailing theoretical education system leaves a student without skill, who either have to expend some more years to acquire some professional skill or have to wait for lucky chance of getting job. Present apathetic attitude of students towards general courses in schools/colleges and inclination towards professional or vocational courses has once again affirmed the ineffectiveness of British model of education.
The fundamental principles of Buniyadi Vidyalaya are still valid and worthwhile in the context of present educational reform. They are relevant as guiding principles of modern education. It is need of the hour that the curriculum of Buniyadi Shiksha be reformed on modern lines and implemented all over India. Undoubtedly, it will serve as one of the most fascinating and beneficial techniques of education at elementary stage.
“Learning through doing and earning while learning” was the motto of Gandhi’s vision. He advocated that a student should resort to manual work as against mere bookish knowledge. He emphasized on vocational and functional education to increase efficiency within students, which ultimately will be helpful in making Indian villages self-reliant and self-sufficient.
(The author is a technocrat & academician)