INTRODUCTION TO WARDHA SCHEME OF BASIC EDUCATION-1937

 

UNIT STRUCTURE

1. Learning Objectives
2. Introduction
3. Historical Background
4. Wardha Education Conference

1. Zakir Hussain Committee
5. Meaning and Philosophy of Basic Education
6. Main Features of Basic Education
7 Curriculum of Basic Education
8 Merits of Basic Education
9 Demerits or Causes of failure of Basic Education
10. Let Us Sum Up
11. Further Readings
12 Answers to Check Your Progress
13. Possible Questions
14. References

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

 
After going through this unit, you will be able to:
Know the historical background of Basic Education,
Illustrate the resolution of Wardha Education Conference,
Explain the meaning and philosophy of Basic Education,
Discuss the main features of Basic Education,
Explain the curriculum,
Describe the merits of the scheme, and
Identify the defects of the scheme along with the causes of failure of Basic Education in our country.


INTRODUCTION


The Wardha scheme of Education, popularly known as ‘Basic education’ occupies a unique place in the field of elementary education in India. This scheme was the first attempt to develop an indigenous scheme of education in British India by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation. As a nationalist leader he fully realised that the British system of education could not serve the socio-economic need of the country. At Round Table Conference in London (1931) he pointed out the ineffectiveness of the system of primary education in India and the alarming low percentage of literacy among Indian people. He held the policy of the British Government responsible for this painful situation in the field of mass education. Gandhiji said “I am convinced that the present system of education is not only wasteful but positively harmful.” It was in this context the concept of Basic Education emerged in the mind of Gandhiji. In this unit we will discuss the historical background, the Wardha scheme of education, its fundamental features, curriculum and merits and demerits of this system of education.
 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


First, we shall discuss the historical background. The Government of India Act, 1935 came into force in 1937. According to the Act, Congress Ministries were formed in seven provinces in India. Prior to this Congress had been strongly pleading for free, compulsory and universal education. After having the power the Congress had to implement it in action. Gandhiji was the leading figure of the Indian political scene and he came forward to meet the situation. Gandhiji was fully conversant with the deplorable condition of education in the land. For improving this condition he advocated a scheme of primary education based on Indian traditional culture through the medium of mother tongue. But this required a huge sum of money which meant fresh taxation. The situation was further complicated as Mahatma Gandhi promised to introduce total prohibition which again meant the loss of a huge amount of revenue. Congress was committed to both ‘prohibition and compulsion’. To end this dilemma Gandhiji put forward the proposal that the plan of mass education need not be held up for want of funds. Free and compulsory primary education could be given to every child if the process of schooling could be made self supporting by imparting education through a useful and productive craft. Gandhiji expressed his views on education through a series of articles in ‘Harijan’ in June 31, 1937, which later on developed into the Wardha Scheme of Basic Education. The views of Gandhiji created controversies in the academic circles. Therefore it was desirable to get the scheme examined by experts and educationists. Finally, Gandhiji placed his Basic Education System to the nation in the Wardha Conference in 1937.


WARDHA EDUCATION CONFERENCE


Now, we are familiar with the historical background that led to the birth of a new system of education, i.e., Basic Education. Let us discuss Wardha Education Conference.
For the purpose of discussing different aspects of the proposed new scheme of education, an All India Education Conference was held in Wardha on 22nd and 23rd October, 1937. The eminent educationists, congress leaders and workers alongwith the Education Ministers of the seven states had attended the conference. Gandhiji himself presided over it. After serious discussions the following four resolutions were passed.
That in the opinion of this conference, free and compulsory education be provided on a nation-wide scale.
That the medium of instruction be the mother tongue.
That the process of education through this period should centre round some form of manual productive work suitable for the local condition.
That the conference expects that the system of education will be gradually able to cover the remuneration of the teacher.

The conference then appointed a committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. Zakir Hussain to prepare a detailed education plan and syllabus on the lines of the above resolutions.

Zakir Hussain Committee



Besides Dr. Zakir Hussain, the Committee consisted of nine members. Among those who served in the committee, Prof. K. G. Saigidain’s name is prominent. Other members included were Arya Nayakam, Vinova Bhave, Kaka Kalelkar, J. C. Kumarappa, Kishori Lal, Prof. K. T. Shah etc.

As mentioned before the committee was appointed to prepare a detailed education plan and syllabus. It submitted its reports, one in December, 1937 and the other in April, 1938. This report has since become the fundamental document of the basic scheme and the scheme has come to be known as the Wardha Scheme of Education. It was approved by Mahatma Gandhi and was placed before the Indian National Congress at its Haripura session held in March,1938.

The first report included the basic principles of the Wardha Scheme of education, its aims, teachers and their training, organisation of schools, administration, inspection and inclusion of craft centred education regarding handicrafts like spinning, weaving etc. The second report dealt with Agriculture, Metal work, Wood craft and other basic handicraft. An elaborate curriculum of all those subjects and ways and means to establish their correlation with other subjects was also suggested.

In course of time more conferences were held, more committees were formed on this important subject. As a result more new features were added to this aspect of education which later on took the final shape. The conference of 1945 at Sebagram characterized Basic Education as “education for life”. The conference considered it as a radical and important revolution in social and economic structure of the Indian society, i.e., creating a new way of life.” Since then Basic education came to be known as ‘Nai Talim’. A conference of education ministers and educational workers was called by B.G. Kher in 1946, that took some important resolutions which affected the quality of Basic Education in different provinces. Basic Education has finally emerged after a decade of experimentation and discussion. The scheme of basic education formulates the following proposals—

  • Free, universal and compulsory education should be provided for all boys and girls between the ages of 7—14.

  • This education should be imparted in the mother-tongue of the child.

  • All education should centre round some basic craft chosen with due regard to the capacity of children and the needs of the locality. The committee suggested spinning and weaving, card-board and wood work, leather work, kitchen-gardening, agriculture and fishery as obviously suitable crafts.

  • The selected craft should be both taught and practised so that the children are able to produce articles which can be used and may be sold to meet part of the expenditure on the school.

  • This craft must not be taught mechanically but its social and scientific implications were to be studied side by side.

  • In this craft-centered education all the subjects to be taught were to be integrally related to the selected craft or the child’s physical and social environment.

CHECK YOUR PROGRESS

Answer briefly—

1. Who was the profounder of Basic Education?
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2. What was the purpose of Wardha Education Conference? What was its resolution?
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3. List the resolutions of the Wardha Education Conference.
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4. Mention the main objective of Zakir Hussain Committee.
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MEANING AND PHILOSOPHY OF BASIC EDUCATION


You must understand the meaning and the philosophy behind Basic Education.

The word ‘Basic’ is derived from the word ‘base’ which means the bottom or the foundation of a thing upon which the whole thing rests or is made o stand Mahatma Gandhi wanted to make the foundation of the educational edifice strong. It is with this objective that he put forward this scheme. This scheme of education is based on the national culture and civilisation of India. It aims at making a child self-reliant by enabling him to use his acquired knowledge and skills in practical affairs of life. Basic education has close relationship with the basic needs and interest of the education as the child is the focal point of education. The central point of this scheme is some handicraft, whose teaching will enable the student to solve the problems of his livelihood and at the same time develop qualities of good citizenship. In Gandhiji’s view, sound education must be rooted in the culture and life of the soil and therefore he strongly pleads for relating education to the environment.

Gandhiji’s definition of education gives an insight into his philosophy of education. Now, what is education according to Gandhiji? By true education he means an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man, body, mind and spirit. For Gandhi mere literacy is not the end of education not even the beginning. It is only one of the means by which man and woman can be educated. Therefore, he attaches little value to literacy in his scheme of education.

Gandhiji was a practical educational philosopher and an experimentalist to the core. His experiments with truth and education were the instrument for the realisation of his ideal in life. In several of his educational experiments he tried to translate his philosophy-into achieving the reality of the evolution and establishment of an ideal society. His educational system is the dynamic side of his entire philosophy.

Gandhiji keenly wanted to create a new social order based on truth and non-violence. This can be brought about only through a silent social revolution. He believed that revolutionary change in the educational system can help to bring this silent social revolution. The scheme of Basic Education does not stand for mere technique, it stands for a new spirit and approach to all education.

CHECK YOUR PROGRESS

5. Explain the meaning of the word ‘Basic’.
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6. Give Gandhiji’s definition on education.
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7. What type of society did Gandhiji want to create in India?

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MAIN FEATURES OF THE WARDHA SCHEME


Let us now, discuss the main features of the Wardha Scheme of Education—

Free and compulsory education :

Gandhiji wanted education to be free and compulsory for all boys and girls between the ages of seven to fourteen. He evolved a scheme of education which would be in harmony with the culture and civilisation of the Indian people and which would solve the problem of mass education in a practical way.

Education Through Craft :

The basic idea of this scheme is to impart education through some craft or productive work. Craft work helps the child to acquire sensor and motor co-ordination and to appreciate the value of honest labour. Gandhiji was of the opinion that the method of training the mind through village handicraft from the beginning as the central focus would promote the real, disciplined development of the mind. The advantages of making craft as the centre of education as listed by the Zakir Hussain Committee are as follows—

  • “Psychologically, it is desirable, because it relieves the child from the tyranny of a purely academic and theoretical instruction against which its active nature is always making a healthy protest.”

  • “Secondly, the introduction of such practical productive work in education, to be participated in by all children of the nation will tend to break down the existing barriers of prejudice between manual and intellectual workers harmful alike for both.”
  • “Economically, carried out intelligently and efficiently, the scheme will increase the productive capacity of our workers and will also enable them to utilise their leisure advantageously.”

  • “From educational point of view, greater concreteness and reality can be given to the knowledge acquired by children through craft as knowledge will be related to life.”

Self supporting aspect of the Scheme:

The self supporting aspect of the scheme may be interpreted in two ways—
(a) Education that will help one to be self supporting in later life,
(b) Education which in itself is self supporting.
The basic idea of Gandhiji was that if the craft chosen is taught efficiently or thoroughly, it would enable the school to pay the cost of salaries of teachers. At the same time his aim was to accord dignity of labour and ensure modest and honest and livelihood for the student after leaving school.

Medium of instruction:

One of the resolutions that was adopted at the All India National Conference at Wardha was that education must be imparted through the mother tongue. In this connection, the Zakir Hussain Committee’s observation was that the proper teaching of the mother tongue is the foundation of all education. Without the capacity to speak effectively and to read and to write correctly and lucidly, no one can develop precision of thought or clarity of ideas. Moreover, it is a means of introducing the child to the rich heritage of his people’s ideas, emotions and aspirations.

Ideal of citizenship:

Another important feature of the basic scheme is the ideal of citizenship which is implicit in it. It aimed at giving the citizens of the future a keen sense of personal growth, dignity and efficiency and social services in a cooperative community. The Zakir Hussain Committee envisaged that the new generation must at least have an opportunity of understanding their own problems and rights and obligations. A completely new system is necessary to secure the minimum of education for the intelligent exercise of the rights and duties of citizens.

Flexible Curriculum and free Environment :


The flexibility of the curriculum and free environment for the child to perform according to his own capacity are another remarkable features of basic education. Under this scheme the teachers and students are free to work according to their interest and there is no compulsion for completing a prescribed portion due to fear of examinations. Necessary changes may be introduced in the curriculum if a situation demands. Thus, whatever the child learns according to his interest and capacity is permanently remembered by him. The teacher is also free to organise necessary environment for the development of the child.

CURRICULUM OF BASIC EDUCATION


You know that basic education is designed for children between seven and fourteen years of age and accordingly curriculum has been suggested. For the boys general science and for girls home science have been emphasised. The various subjects as suggested are given below—

1. Basic Craft.

(i) Spinning and Weaving,
(ii) Carpentry,
(iii) Agriculture,
(iv) Fruit and Flower Cultivation,
(v) Leather work,
(vi) Culturing Fish,
(vii) Pottery,
(viii) Any handicraft according to the local need,
(iv) Home Science for girls.

2. Mother tongue.

3. Mathematics.

4. Geography, History and Civics to be combined as Social Studies.

5. Painting and Music.

6. P.T., Drill and Sports etc.

7. General Science comprising Physics Chemistry, Botany, Zoology ,Hygiene and Nature Study etc.

8. Hindi for that area in which it is not the mother tongue.

If you observe minutely the above curriculum you will find the following characteristics—
i) English has not been included as a subject of study.
ii) Although the medium of instruction is mother tongue, all students must learn Hindi language.
iii) There is no place for religious and moral education in the curriculum
iv) The craft chosen must not be taught mechanically, but systematically and scientifically keeping in view the social significance.

CHECK YOUR PROGRESS

8. Education through craft.
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9. Self supporting aspect of Basic education.
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10. Characteristics of Basic education curriculum.
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MERITS OF BASIC EDUCATION


Now we are familiar with every aspect of Basic education. In order to have a better insight and a total view of the system it is necessary to make an objective analysis of them.
First we shall discuss the merits of the system and these are—

  • The scheme is financially sound and acceptable in a poor country like India, where about half of the total illiterate people of the world reside. It is helpful for rapid expansion of elementary education with less burden on public exchequer.

  • It is also economically productive as it is based on the principle of work. Work occupies the central place in basic education. The system is production oriented and helps in the programme of national economic reconstruction.

  • The system was able to remove class and caste distinction. It helps to bring social solidarity and national integration.

  • It also removes the barriers between the educated and the non-educated, between manual work and intellectual work, between the rich and the poor and village and the town.

  • Basic education is activity-centred education. The child is not a passive learner but an active participant in the learning process. It fosters learning by doing. Thus, instruction is not passive, and the child learns through a productive and useful craft.

  • Basic education is child-centric. The child is the centre of activity. It primarily considered the constructive and creative instincts of children.

  • Basic education is based on sound educational principle of correlation, where all educational activities are correlated to a basic craft. Correlation also takes place between physical environment, social environment and craft work.

  • The system is based upon the cultural and social heritage of the land. As such, it inculcates social and moral values in the minds of the students.

  • It is truly an education for the whole man. It aims at a harmonious development of the body, mind and soul.

  • Basic education system recognises the dignity of labour.

  • It recognises the importance of mother-tongue as the medium of instruction at the elementary stage.

  • It inculcates democratic values like co-operation, responsibility, fellow-feeling in the minds of the students, which are essential for proper functioning of a democratic social order.

DEMERITS OR CAUSES OF FAILURE OF BASIC EDUCATION


Let us now examine the causes of the failure of Basic education in India— why it has failed to become a permanent and lasting feature of our educational system.
After the independence Basic scheme of education made good progress for about a decade but gradually due to several difficulties it failed to make much headway. The causes may be summarised below—

 
The self supporting aspect of Basic Education received severe criticism in the academic circle. Teachers, social leaders and educational administrators had shown an indifferent attitude towards it. It was argued that the scheme turns a school into a centre of small scale industry. Moreover, teachers had to depend upon the earnings of the students.This had a demoralising effect on teacher-pupil relationship.
Too much emphasis on craft had led the neglect of liberal education. Very often the craft is not properly selected from the point of view of education and social significance and teaching through craft had become just a slogan.
Another criticism levelled against Basic Education was that a single craft can and should not be the basis of the entire educational process. It may not help in the development of liberal education and thus would create an imbalance in the educational system between vocational and intellectual education.
The method of correlation as technique of instruction was not stressed and sincerely followed. Correlation is no doubt a sound principle of education but correlation of the subjects through craft may appear to be sometimes unusual and time consuming.
Basic Education is often regarded as inferior type of education meant for the poor villagers. It has nothing to do with the urban people, who usually sent their children to modern type of schools. The general public had no confidence in basic schools because of the degraded social value accorded to it. Thus Basic education failed to become an integral part of our national system of education.
Basic Education can in no way help in the progress of modern scientific and technological development of the society, which was the need of the day. Rapid changes and modernisation of our society can only be possible through the application of modern science and technology in the fields and factories.
Lack of finance and the absence of sound administrative policy was also responsible for the failure of Basic Education. Practically there was no coordination between the official and non-official agencies engaged in the organisation and development of Basic education.
Teacher occupies the central position in Basic Education. Lack of adequate supply of efficient, trained and sincere teachers was one the most important cause for the failure of this scheme of education. Suitable orientation and training of teachers of basic schools was highly needed, which was rare. The majority of the teachers had no faith in this system.

The concept of Basic Education as an educational theory and practice in unique and unquestionable. But its implementation was far from satisfactory. The Education Commission 1964-66 fully recognised the importance of basic education and incorporated in its recommendations many of the fundamental features of basic education. Work experience, community living, social service, integration of academic knowledge with experience, vocationalisation of education, education for moral and spiritual values have been recommended by the Kothari Commission. As a step for modifying the secondary school curriculum, in Iswarbhai Patel Committee of 1977 had given a new terminology as Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW), which demarcated a distinct curricula area. The committee opines that education should be work-centred and socially useful and productive work must be given a central place in the curriculum at all stages of school education and all academic subjects should be related to it. All these changing concepts originated from Gandhiji’s Basic Education. The unesco Commission on Education in its report known as “Learning to be” has adopted the term “Basic Education” for primary education and emphasised that “education must cease being confined within school house walls, and many forms of social and economic activity must be used for educational purposes.”

Thus, it is quite justified to say that the fundamental principles of basic education are still valid and fruitful in the context of our present educational reform. They are relevant to be used as guiding principles of modern education. In fact, it needs to be reformed on modern lines then it may serve as one of the most interesting and fruitful techniques of instruction at elementary stage.

CHECK YOUR PROGESS

11. Mention four merits of Basic Education.
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12. Why Basic Education failed in our country?
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13. Work experience of Kothari Commission.
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14. Socially Useful Productive Work.

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LET US SUM UP


 
In this unit we have discussed the Wardha Scheme of Education developed by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation. Gandhiji was the leading political figure at that time and he realised the deplorable condition of education in our country. He expressed his views on education in a series of articles in Harijan, which later developed into Basic Education. An All India Conference was held at Wardha to discuss the different aspects of Basic Education and four resolutions were passed— free and compulsory education be provided on a nation-wide scale, medium of instruction will be mother-tongue, the process of education should centre round some basic craft and the system of education will be gradually able to cover the remuneration of the teacher. The conference appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Zakir Hussain to prepare a detailed education plan. Accordingly the committee submitted its report which formulated certain proposals and these were—
Free and compulsory education for 7—14 years boys and girls,
Education should be imparted through mother tongue,
Education should centre round some basic craft,
The craft must not be taught mechanically, but scientifically,
Education in all subjects should be integrally related to the selected craft.

We have focused our attention on meaning and philosophy of basic education and found that ‘basic’ means the foundation upon which the whole thing rests. Gahdniji wanted to make the foundation of our education system strong. According to him, true education means an all round development of the body, mind and spirit. He was a practical educational philosopher. His educational system is the dynamic side of his entire philosophy. The main feature of basic education are— free and compulsory education for children of 7—14 years, education through craft, self supporting education, mother tongue as medium of instruction, ideal citizenship and flexible curriculum.
In the last section of the unit our discussion has focused on the merits of the basic system of education and the causes of its failure in our country. Kothari Commission of 1964-66 fully recognised the importance of basic education and incorporated in its recommendations a subject “Work Experience”, by which it tried to introduce work-centred education in school.

FURTHER READINGS


  • Ahuja, B. N. and Bhatia, R. L.: Modern Indian Education and its Problems, Surjeet Publications, New Delhi.
  • Chaube, S. P.: History and Problems of Indian Education, Vinod Pustak Mandir, Agra.

ANSWERS TO CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


1.
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation was the propounder of Basic Education.
2.
The purpose of Wardha Education Conference was to discuss different aspects of the new system of education, i.e., Basic Education.
3.
Its resolutions were— (a) free and compulsory education should be provided on a nation-wide scale, (b) medium of instruction should be the mother tongue, (c) the process of education should centre round some manual productive work, and (d) the system of education will be gradually able to cover the remuneration of the teacher.
4.
The objective of Zakir Hussain Committee was to prepare a detailed education plan and syllabus on the lines of Wardha Education Conference Resolutions.
5.
The word ‘Basic’ is derived from the word ‘Base’, which means the foundation of a thing upon which the whole thing rests or is made. Primary education is the base of the whole educational structure and that is why Gandhiji named it as Basic education.
6.
According to Gandhiji ‘’By education I mean an all round drawing out of the best in child and man-body mind and spirit”
7.
Gandhiji wanted to create a new social order based on truth and non-violence. He believed that revolutionary change in the educational system can help to bring revolutionary change in society and thereby create a new type of society.
8.
Education through craft means education should be imparted through some craft or productive work. The craft is the centre of all education in the Basic system. Gandhiji was of the opinion that the method of training in mind through village handicraft from the very beginning as the central focus would promote the real, disciplined development of mind.
9.
The basic idea of Basic scheme was that if the craft chosen was taught efficiently and thoroughly, it would enable the school to pay towards the cost of its teaching staff. It would help the state to introduce free and compulsory primary education.
10.
The main characteristics of Basic education curriculum are— English has not been included as a subject of study, medium of instruction is mother tongue but all children must learn Hindi language, no moral or religious education and the craft chosen must be taught systematically and scientifically.
`11.
Four merits of Basic education are— (a) the scheme is financially sound and acceptable for a poor country like India, (b) it is based on the principle of work, economically productive, (c) the system is able to remove caste and class distinction and (d) it is activity centred education applies the principle of learning by doing.
12.
Some of the reasons of failure of Basic education are— (a) self supporting aspect of the scheme received widespread criticism, (b) too much emphasis on craft led towards neglect of liberal education, (c) basic education was regarded as a system of education for poor villagers and not for urban people, (d) lack of finance and absence of sound administrative policy and (e) lack of sufficient trained teachers.
13.
The idea of introducing work experience as a subject in the school curriculum by the Kothari education commission of 1964-66 actually based on the principles of basic education.
14.
The terminology “Socially Useful and Productive Work” was introduced by Iswarbhai Patel committee. This signified a separate curricular area where socially useful and productive work must be given central place in the school curriculum.

POSSIBLE QUESTIONS



 
  • What are the major principles of Basic Education? Do you think that the scheme is a total failure? Justify your answer.

  • Discuss the merits and demerits of Basic Education as a system of primary education.

  • What is Basic Education? How far is it basic to serve the educative needs of the Indian people?

  • Show your acquaintance with the general features of Basic Education. What are its major weaknesses?

  • Describe the nature and structure of the Basic curriculum.

  • What are the ideals of Basic Education? How far they have been practically worked out in the country?

  • Why Basic Education failed in our country? Examine its scope and prospect at present.

REFERENCES


  • Aggarwal, J. C.:Landmarks in the History of Indian Education, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi.
  • Shrimali, K. L.: The Wardha Scheme.ll
  • Purkait, B. R.: Milestones in Modern Indian Education, New Central Book Agency, Koklata.
  • Rawat, P. L.:History of Indian Education, Ram Prasad and Sons, Agra.