Gandhiji had a philosophy or a policy on education. It was formed mostly
due to the way British set up the education system in India. He did not
like that. British educational system was to make graduates as
their workers. It encouraged feelings against manual labour work, and
purely profession oriented. It separated children from families. It
increased the problems in India due to industrialization and urbanization.
Gandhiji was against the education in English medium
in India, as it took the place of local languages and made people aliens to
their own land and culture. He wished children to lean in local language
and to be able to teach knowledge their illiterate family members.
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. That was found to be
happening. Education finally should lead to spiritual path and not stop
at careers and social status. It should enable a higher role in the
society. Education must produce enlightened souls. 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. 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.
Gandhiji’s education philosophy 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. There should be a direct interaction from the Guru to the disciple. The manner of teaching could be the best suited to them.
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. Aim of Nai Talim was to create a free and good
society rather than a free India sans good society.