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Ashram Ideal of Education
[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:
  1. Young boys and girls should have co-education till they are eight years of age.
  2. Their education should mainly consist in manual training under the supervision of an educationist.
  3. The special aptitudes of each child should be recognized in determining the kind of work he (or she) should do.
  4. The reasons for every process should be explained when the process is being carried on.
  5. General knowledge should be imparted to each to child as he begins to understand things. Learning to read or write should come later.
  6. 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.
  7. Reading should come before writing. The letters should be treated as pictures to be recognized and later on to be copied.
  8. A child taught on these lines will have acquired considerable knowledge according to his capacity by the time he is eight.
  9. Nothing should be taught to a child by force.
  10. He should be interested in everything taught to him.
  11. Education should appear to the child like play, Play is an essential part of education.
  12. All education should be imparted through the mother tongue.
  13. The child should be taught Hindi-Urdu as the national language, before he learns letters.
  14. Religious education is indispensable and the child should get it by watching the teacherís conduct and by hearing him talk about it.
  15. Nine to sixteen constitutes the second stage in the childís education.
  16. It is desirable that boys and girls should have co-education during the second stage also as far as possible.
  17. Hindu children should now be taught Sanskrit and Muslim Children Arabic.
  18. Manual training should be continued during the second stage. Literacy education should be allotted more time as is necessary.
  19. 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.
  20. During this stage the child should acquire a general knowledge of world history and geography, botany, astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, and algebra.
  21. Each child should now be taught to sew and to cook.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Production starts from the very beginning, but during the first stage it does not still catch up with the expenditure.
  25. 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.
  26. Big and expensive buildings are not necessary for educational institutions.
  27. 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.

Womenís Education
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 veritable school.