Basic Education (Buniyadi Shiksha)

The Voice of Truth

The utterly false idea that intelligence can be developed only through book reading should give place to the truth that the quickest development of the mind can be achieved by artisan's work being learnt in scientific manner. True development of the mind commences immediately the apprentice is taught at every step why a particular manipulation of the hand or the tool is required. The problem of the unemployment of students can be solved without difficulty, if they will rank themselves among the common labourers.

We have up to now concentrated on stuffing children's mind with all kinds of information, without ever thinking of stimulating and developing them. Let us now cry a halt and concentrate on educating the child properly through manual work, not as a side activity, but as the prime means of intellectual training...

You have to train the boys in one occupation or another. Round this special occupation you will train up his mind, his body, his handwriting, his artistic sense, and so on. He will be master of the craft he learns.

Literary training by itself adds not an inch to one's moral height and that character-building is independent of literary training.

Let students realise that learning without courage is like a waxen statue beautiful to look at but bound to melt at the least touch of a hot substance.

Music should form part of the syllabus of primary education. I heartily endorse this proportion. The modulation of the voice is as necessary as the training of the hand. Physical drill, handicrafts drawings and music should go hand in hand in order to draw the best out of the boys and girls and create in them real interest in their tuition.

A wise parent allows the children to make mistakes. It is good for them once in a while to burn their fingers. I attach the greatest importance to primary education which according to my conception should be equal to the present matriculation less English. If all the collegians were all of a sudden to forget their knowledge, the loss sustained by the sudden lapse of the memory of say a few lakhs of collegians would be as nothing compared to the loss that the nation has sustained and in sustaining through the ocean of darkness that surrounds three hundred millions.

If such education is given, the direct result will be that it will be self supporting. But the test of success is not its self supporting character but that the whole man has been drawn out through the teaching of the handicraft in a scientific manner. In fact I would reject a teacher who would promise to make it self supporting part will be the logical collary of the fact that the pupil has learnt the use of everyone of his faculties. If a boy who works at a handicraft for three hours a day will surely earn his keep, how much more a boy who adds to the work a development of his mind and soul!

English is today admittedly the world language. I would therefore accord it a place as a second, optional language, not in the school, but in the university course. That can only be for the select few not for the millions... It is our mental slavery that makes us feel that we cannot do without English. I can never subscribe to that defeatist creed.

Source: "The Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi", Vol. 6, The Voice of Truth