Gandhiji was not a brilliant student, nor he did excellently after his graduation in academic matters. His experiences with life and his gradual evolution in terms of culture, idealism, social purpose made him great. He form a philosophy on education that should be imparted to the people in free and independent India. The education that would make people ideal social beings than persons working just for themselves and for careers.
Gandhiji’s education philosophy was called "Nai Talim". It was influenced by famous
intellectuals world over and the ancient Hindu scriptures. He believed
that education was to be passed from one (guru) to another. Many of those
principles are implemented over the last few decades, even though not in the
name of Nai Talim. There are many residential schools in India that
follow his principles. Nai Talim was to create a good
society rather than a free India sans good society.
He did not
like British education system in India. British educational system was to make graduates as
only their obedient workers. Gandhiji was against English medium, as it made people alien to
their own culture. Children could learn in local language
and could teach their illiterate people. He also
found that the education at that time was not at all connected with home life,
village life, and the requirements of the country. That was not right.
Gandhiji wanted an integrated development to allround
personality that includes physical, moral development in addition to
intellectual development. He clearly identified the distinction between
literacy and lessons, between learning and education, and between knowledge and
wisdom. That is, he wanted education, wisdom and lessons in life.
He said that literacy in itself is no education ie., literacy is not enough. But that was found to be
Education finally should lead to spiritual path and not stop
at careers and at achieving a social status. It should enable a higher role in the
society. Education must produce enlightened souls. He did not like
students to do nuisances, smoke or drink. He preferred students to lead
celibate life (brahmacharya) and discipline.
He formed his ideas into “Nai Talim” in 1937. It is a
spiritual principle expressing his philosophy. It means “Best education
for all”. In that philosophy, knowledge and work (profession to earn
one’s living) are not separate. Education should be a complete process
for the development of a person along with morals and a good social
character. His philosophy is an idealism formed through the impressions
of Tolstoy on him in South Africa as well as his life at Sabarmati Ashram.
His approach was more rural oriented and traditional to make a person a
wholistic ideal person. Nai Talim was to eradicate illiteracy,
superstitions and the development of the attitude of slavery (in British
rule). Education is supposed to remove all taboos that inhibit free
The ideas in Nai Talim were sort of revolutionary. However
his philosophy was not adopted in Independent India by Nehru. Nehru
supported industrialization, centralization, centrally planned and controlled
Handicrafts, arts and sketching (painting) are also
part of Nai Talim, to develop the young minds in an unstressed and informal
environment. In fact, these are to be used even before teaching
alphabets. Spinning and weaving were also part of the pedagogy.
They were suited to the situation India was in at that time.