Mahatma Gandhi in his article titled ‘National Education’ published in Young India on 1 September, 1921 has written that it might be true regarding other countries but in India where 80% of the population is occupied with agriculture and 10% of it with industries, it is an offence to make education merely literary1. It is apparent from these lines that according to Mahatma Gandhi, education is not only to gain literary knowledge. Although he has tried to confine his above mentioned statement within the Indian perspective, in my opinion education cannot be restricted to the knowledge of letters of alphabet or the study of literature irrespective of the circumstances or the economic resources of any nation in the world. In addition to literary knowledge, education should include the moral, physical and mental development of a person. In course of time, education has to develop a person in all respects in order to enable him to become self-reliant. To become self-dependant or for his all-round development, it is necessary that he should have moral upliftment in addition to his physical or intellectual development. It is absolutely necessary that he should not only be able to earn his bread, but should be able to fulfill the obligations of his family and in carving the path of his progress, should ultimately be able to achieve his goal in life.
A young man or woman may pass the
Graduate or the Post-graduate examination with first division or may
further acquire the M. Phil. or Ph.D. degree, but still he/she does not
become self-dependant and is not able to channelize his/her future along
successful lines by worrying about his/her day-to-day problems. In such a
case, will the education received by him/her or the degrees acquired by
him/her be regarded as meaningful? In my opinion such an education or
degree is useless. This reality can be perceived not only in India
but in other countries also. Therefore, Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that
education does not mean getting literary knowledge is true even
in the context of the world.
Today, due to an increasing population, there is a lot of
competition for getting admission in colleges and universities.
This is more true in the case of higher education. Everyone wants to go in for
graduation, post-graduation, M. Phil or a Ph.D. degree. That is not all,
thousands of students stand in a queue for D.Litt. degree. What
prospects are there after getting a degree or degrees? Many of them
have no hope for a bright future. A person, who has
spent a major, precious part of his life in obtaining a degree or
passing through any level of higher education and who has not received
any guidance for the future or is unable to make himself self-dependant,
should he be considered educated? The answer would be in the negative.
This is what is happening. It appears that education today has failed in giving
It is a fact that our system of education
has been defective for the last many decades. Even after independence,
our leaders have not taken such steps as they should have to reform our
defective educational system. Since independence and till now, many
committees and commissions have been formed, but
how much improvement has been made in the sphere of education? Not
much. People like Dr. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Zakir Hussain,
well-known educationists on national and international levels, have been
the Presidents of our country. It is an anomaly that education has not
been able to give right direction to our youths, or to provide them
opportunities for their all-round development or to make them
self-dependant. The number of students for higher education increases every year and is still growing further. If we do not awaken
at the right time and bring changes in our defective educational system according
to the view-points of Mahatma Gandhi, the situation would become so
serious that we would not be able to manage it.
Mahatma Gandhi, an advocate of a solid foundation for human beings was firm on giving free and compulsory
elementary education2to all. In Harijan of 9 October, 1937, he wrote
that he was firmly in favour of the principle of free and compulsory
education for India. He further wrote that at this level along with the
training in any trade, their physical, mental and spiritual
potentialities also be developed. Under present circumstances, I would
like to add further that arrangements should be made for free and
compulsory education to all up to the secondary level3without any
discrimination of lineage, gender, creed, caste or sub-caste. The
government should do this. I firmly believe that if Mahatma Gandhi had
been with us today, he would have held the same opinion.
Imparting of physical and mental training for the growth of good physique and mind
and moral education for the formation of character and good conduct on
the elementary and the secondary levels should be the priority. Besides, students should have
technical knowledge according to their interest at these levels so that
it may enable them to become self-dependant in future. This type of
education imparted at the secondary level will incorporate four kinds of
education, viz. technical, physical-mental, moral and general [according
to syllabus]. After having received this secondary education,
students would certainly become self-dependant and would be able to
choose the career they would like to follow.
Each and every student should have a
definite aim before he enters the field of higher education; otherwise
it is meaningless to pursue higher education. There is a general thinking
today that they would decide what they would do after having passed B.A.
or M.A. or acquired some other degree. That is sheer waste of time and
money and they would not achieve anything except groping in the dark.
They will have a clear-direction only when the system of education at
the secondary level is managed on the lines I have briefly discussed.
Regarding this, it can be further said that a student should primarily
pursue his studies at the graduate level on the basis of the elementary
technical education he/she receives at the secondary level along with
the other three. It is the requirement of the nation and is important
at the international level as well. There is also the possibility of their
becoming self-dependant. If Mahatma Gandhi’s views on higher education
are analyzed and reviewed in the perspective of the circumstances
prevailing today, the above stated educational system would be according
to them. It will be in proximity to his statement in which he expressed
his desire that by changing the nature of college education, he would
make it conform to the needs of the nation.
Having become a graduate with technical
knowledge any young boy or girl would be capable of seeking
self-employment in a country with a population as large as in India and it will
be comparably easy for him/her to get a government or non-government
job. He or she can also pursue his or her studies further while doing
his/her job. In this way, being self-dependant, a young boy/girl can
continue his/her studies further to fulfill his/her aim and object. This
is what Gandhi wanted. One who is self-employed will not
have to run about after graduation for post-graduation or any other
higher degree. Apart from this, he will not be required to waste
precious time and money. It will naturally bring down the unnecessary
crowding in colleges and universities. Besides, education will be
purposeful and will be able to guide in the right direction. In short,
these are Mahatma Gandhi’s views on higher education and keeping them in
mind, the system of education in India will have to be reformed.
These views of Mahatma Gandhi can be our guide and can contribute to the
management of our educational system.
Mahatma Gandhi had talked about
self-sufficiency of colleges and universities. It meant that these
institutions instead of depending on government aid should be
self-financed. India is an agricultural country. Most of the industries
are based on agriculture. Gandhi wanted that more and more self-financed
Agriculture-Colleges should be opened and they should be attached to
related industries which would turn out graduates according to their
requirement. Not only this, they should bear the expenses of their
education and the training-staff. Gandhi wanted the same system to be
adopted for graduates of engineering and medical colleges. Engineering
graduates should be attached to the related industry and medical
graduates to hospitals. Law, Commerce and Arts colleges can be
managed by voluntary organizations and donations can be procured
according to their requirement. Mahatma Gandhi was never in favour of
government aid. He, however, wanted the universities’ control over the
colleges and that of the government over the universities.
It is another matter that under the
present circumstances, we have not been able to incorporate his
views in our system of higher education, but they are worth giving a
thought. The self-dependence he has talked about is certainly
significant, otherwise how long will the colleges and the
universities thrive on government aid? Keeping it in view, we will
have to make a firm and well planned schedule and put it into practice.