[The following translation by Shri V. G. Desai of
some of the notes on the Ashram ideal of education written by Mahatma Gandhi in
Gujarati appeared in the issues of Harijan of 15th July and 5th August, 1950.]
I have my own perhaps peculiar views on education
which have not been accepted by my colleagues in full, and here they are:
Young boys and girls should have co-education
till they are eight years of age.
Their education should mainly consist in
manual training under the supervision of an educationist.
The special aptitudes of each child should be
recognized in determining the kind of work he (or she) should do.
The reasons for every process should be
explained when the process is being carried on.
General knowledge should be imparted to each
to child as he begins to understand things. Learning to read or write should
The child should first be taught to draw
simple geometrical figures, and when he has learnt to draw these with ease,
he should be taught to write the alphabet. If this is done, he will write a
good hand from the very first.
Reading should come before writing. The
letters should be treated as pictures to be recognized and later on to be
A child taught on these lines will have
acquired considerable knowledge according to his capacity by the time he is
Nothing should be taught to a child by force.
He should be interested in everything taught
Education should appear to the child like
play, Play is an essential part of education.
All education should be imparted through the
The child should be taught Hindi-Urdu as the
national language, before he learns letters.
Religious education is indispensable and the
child should get it by watching the teacherís conduct and by hearing him
talk about it.
Nine to sixteen constitutes the second stage
in the childís education.
It is desirable that boys and girls should
have co-education during the second stage also as far as possible.
Hindu children should now be taught Sanskrit
and Muslim Children Arabic.
Manual training should be continued during the
second stage. Literacy education should be allotted more time as is
The boys during this stage should be taught
their parentís avocation in such a way that they will by their own choice
obtain their livelihood by practicing the hereditary craft. This does not
apply to the girls.
During this stage the child should acquire a
general knowledge of world history and geography, botany, astronomy,
arithmetic, geometry, and algebra.
Each child should now be taught to sew and to
Sixteen to twenty-five is the third stage,
during which every young person should have and education according to his
or her wishes and circumstances.
During the second stage (9-16) education
should be self-supporting; that is, the child all the time that he is
learning, is working upon some industry, the proceeds of which will meet the
expenditure of the school.
Production starts from the very beginning, but
during the first stage it does not still catch up with the expenditure.
Teachers should be paid not very high salaries
but only a living wage. They should be inspired by a spirit of service. It
is a despicable thing to take any Tom, Dick or Harry as a teacher in the
primary stage. All teachers should be men of character.
Big and expensive buildings are not necessary
for educational institutions.
English should be taught only as one of
several languages. As Hindi is the national languages, English is to be used
in dealing with other nations and international commerce.
As for womenís education I am not sure whether it
should be different from menís and when it should begin. But I am strongly of
opinion that women should have the same facilities as men and even special
facilities where necessary.
There should be night schools for illiterate
adults. But I do not think that they must be taught the three Rís; they must be
helped to acquire general knowledge through lectures etc.; and if they wish, we
should arrange to teach them the three Rís also.
Experiments in the Ashram have convinced us of one
thing, viz. that industry in general and spinning in particular should have
pride of place in education, which must be largely self-supporting as well as
related and tending to the betterment of rural life.
Real education begins after a child has left
school. One who has appreciated the value of studies is a student all his life.
His knowledge must increase from day to day while he is discharging his duty in
a conscientious manner.
The superstition that no education is possible
without a teacher is an obstacle in the path of educational progress. A manís
real teacher is himself. And now-a-days there is ample apparatus available for
self-education. A diligent person can easily acquire knowledge about many things
by himself and obtain the assistance of teacher when one is needed. Experience
is the biggest of all schools. Quite a number of crafts cannot be learnt at
school but only in the workshop. Knowledge of these acquired at school is often
only parrot-like. Knowledge of the other subjects can be acquired with the help
of books. Therefore, what adults need is not so much a school as a thirst for
knowledge, diligence and self-confidence.
The education of children is primarily a duty to
be discharged by the parents. Therefore, the creation of a vital educational
atmosphere is more important than the foundation of innumerable schools. When
once this atmosphere has been established on a firm footing, the schools will
come in due course.
This is the Ashram ideal of education which has
been achieved to some extent, as every department for Ashram activity is a