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ONLINE BOOKS > INDIA OF MY DREAMS > Women's Education
I have pointed out form time to time that there is no justification for men to deprive women or to deny them equal rights on the ground of their illiteracy; but education is essential for enabling women to uphold these natural rights, to improve them and to spread them; again the true knowledge of self and to spread them; again, the true knowledge of self is unattainable by the millions we are without such education.
Man and women are of equal rank but they are not identical. They are a peerless pair being supplementary to one another, each helpless the other, so that without the one the existence of the other can not be conceived, and therefore it follows as a necessary corollary from these facts that anything that will impair the status of either of them will involve the equal ruin of them both. In framing any scheme of women’s education this cardinal truth must be constantly kept in mind. Man is supreme in the outwards activities of a married pair and, therefore. It is in the fitness of things that he should have life is entirely the sphere of women and, therefore, in domestic affairs, in the upbringing and education of children, women ought to have mere knowledge. Not that knowledge should be divided in to watertight compartments, to that some branches of knowledge should close any one; but unless courses of instruction are based on a discriminating appreciation of these basic principles, the fullest life of man and women cannot be developed.
I have come to the conclusion that in the ordinary course of our lives neither our men nor our women need necessarily have any knowledge of English. True, English is necessary for making a living and for active association in our political movements. I do not believe in women working for a living or undertaking commercial enterprises. The few women who may require or desire to have English education can very easily have their way by joining the schools for men. To introduce English education in schools meant for women could only lead to prolongation of our helplessness. I have often read and heard people saying that the rich treasures of English literature should be opened alike to mean and women. I submit in all humility that there is some misapprehension in assuming such an attitude. No one intends to close these treasures against women while keeping them open for men.
There is non earth to prevent you from studying the literature of the world if you have literary tastes. But when course of education have been framed with the needs of a particular society in view, you cannot supply the requirement of the few who have cultivated a literary taste. In asking our men and women to spend less time in the study of English than they are doing now, my object is not to deprive them of the pleasure which they are likely to derive from it, but I hold that the same please can be obtained at less cost and trouble if we follow a more natural method. The world is full of many a gem of priceless beauty, but then these gems are not all of English setting. Other languages can well boast of production of similar excellence; all these should be made available for our common people and that can only be done if our learned men will undertake to translate them for us in our own language.
Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. pp. 426-8
I believe in the proper education of women. But I do believe that women will not make her contribution to the world by mimicking or running a race with man. She can run the race, but she will not rise to the great heights she is capable of by mimicking man. She has to be complement of man.
I cannot definitely state as yet whether it will be successful or not. It does not seem to have succeeded in the West. I tried it myself years ago when I even made boys and girls sleep in the same verandah with no partition between them, Mrs. Gandhi and myself sharing the verandah with them. I must say it brought undesirable results.
…Co-education is still in its experiment stage and we cannot definitely say one way or the other as to its results. I think we should begin with the family first. There boy and girls should grow together freely and naturally. The co-education will come of itself.
Amrita Bazar patrika, 12-1-‘35
If you keep co-education in your school, but not in your training- schools, the children will think there is something wrong some where. I should allow my children to run the risk. We shall have to rid ourselves one day of this sex mentality. We should not seek for examples from the West. Even in training- School, if the teachers are intelligent, pure and filled with the spirit of Nai Talim, There is no danger. Supposing if some accidents do take place, we should not be frightened by them. They would take place anywhere. Although I speak boldly, I am not unaware of the attendant risk.