Education for Villages
"Unfortunately we, who learn in colleges, forget that India lives in her villages and not in her towns.
"India has 7,00,000 villages and you, who receive a liberal education, are expected to take that education or the fruits of that education to the villages. How will you infect the people of the villages with your scientific knowledge? Are you then learning science in terms of the villages and will you be so handy and so practical that the knowledge that you derive in a college so magnificently built—and I believe equally magnificently equipped—you will be able to use for the benefit of the villagers?
"Lastly then, I place before you the instrument to which you may apply your scientific knowledge and that is the humble spinning-wheel. Seven lakhs villages in India are today pining for want of that simple instrument. It was in every home and every cottage of India only a century ago, and at that time, India was not a lazy country that it is today."
(The Hindu, 19-3-1925; 26:302.)
" 'But what about my children and their education?'—says the candidate worker. If the children are to receive their education after the modern style, I can give no useful guidance. If it be deemed enough to make them healthy, sinewy, honest, intelligent villagers, any day able to earn their livelihood in the home of their parents' adoption, they will have their all-round education under the parental roof and withal they will be partly earning members of the family from the moment they reach the years of understanding and are able to use their hands and feet in a methodical manner. There is no school equal to a decent home and no teachers equal to honest virtuous parents. Modern high school education is a dead weight on the villagers. Their children will never be able to get it, and thank God they will never miss it if they have the training of the decent home."
(Harijan, 23-11-1935; 62:133.)
"Those who go and live in villages as true villagers are needed where more than persons like me who go there with their own thermos flasks; such persons can provide living literature to the people."
(Harijan, 14-11-1936; 63:415.)
"When you are imparting knowledge to a child of 7 or 10 through the medium of an industry, you should to begin with exclude all those subjects which cannot be linked with the craft. . .
". . . Our education has got to be revolutionized. The brain must be educated through the hand. If I were a poet, I could write poetry on the possibilities of the five fingers. Why should you think that the mind is everything and the hands and feet nothing? Those who do not train their hands, who go through the ordinary rut of education, lack 'music' in their life. All their faculties are not trained. Mere book knowledge does not interest the child so as to hold his attention fully. The brain gets weary of mere words, and the child's mind begins to wander. The hand does the things it ought not to do, the eye sees the things it ought not to see, the ear hears the things it ought not to hear, and they do not do, see, or hear, respectively what they ought to. They are not taught to make the right choice and so their education often proves their ruin. An education which does not teach us to discriminate between good and bad, to assimilate the one and eschew the other is a misnomer. . .
". . . What we need is educationists with originality, fired with true zeal, who will think out from day to day what they are going to teach their pupils. The teacher cannot get this knowledge through musty volumes. He has to use his own faculties of observation and thinking and impart his knowledge to the children through his lips, with the help of a craft. This means a revolution in the method of teaching, a revolution in the teacher's outlook."
(Harijan, 18-2-1939; 68:372-374.)
"Some work for adult education is being done in many places. It is mostly concentrated among mill-hands and the like in big cities. No one has really touched the village. Mere three Rs and lectures on politics won't satisfy me. Adult education of my conception must make men and women better citizens all round. To work out the syllabus and to organize the work of adult education is a more difficult task than preparation of the seven years' course for children. The common central feature of both will be the imparting of education through village crafts. Agriculture will play an important part in adult education under the basic scheme. Literary instruction must be there. Much information will be given orally. There will be books more for the teachers than the taught. We must teach the majority how to behave towards the minority and vice versa. The right type of adult education should teach good neighbourliness and cut at the very root of untouchability and communal problem."
(The Hindu, 29-10-1944; 78:237-38.)
"According to Nai Talim, craft, literary instruction, hygiene and art are not separate things but blend together and cover education of the individual from the time of conception to the moment of death. Therefore, I would not divide village uplift work into water-tight compartments from the very beginning but undertake an activity which will combine all four. Instead of regarding craft and industry as different from education I will regard the former as the medium for the latter. Nai Talim therefore ought to be integrated into the scheme."
(Harijan, 10-11-1946; 86:59.)