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An Online Exhibition of Historical Artifacts

Gandhi's Views on Education

First Online: January 05, 2002
Page Last Updated: October 31, 2016

The twentieth century thinking in India is greatly influenced by one man -- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Here are some of his views on the education in general and his ideas for educating the illiterate masses of India in particular.

The Purpose of Education
The purpose of education is to bring out the best in you


Ideas to Educate the Masses
I say without tear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root, and left the root like that, and the beautiful tree perished. The village schools were not good enough for the British administrator, so he came out with his program. Every school must have so much paraphernalia, building, and so forth. Well, there were no such schools at all. There are statistics left by a British administrator which show that, in places where they have carried out a survey, ancient schools have gone by the board, because there was no recognition for these schools, and the schools established after the European pattern were too expensive for the people, and therefore they could not possibly overtake the thing. I defy anybody to fulfill a program of compulsory primary education of these3 masses inside of a century. This very poor country of mine is ill able to sustain such an expensive method of education. Our state would revive the old village schoolmaster and dot every village with a school both for boys and girls.
(Mahatma Gandhi at Chatham House, London, October 20, 1931)

On Literacy
Literacy is not the end of  education, not even the beginning. They are not related

Literacy must be one of the many means for intellectual development, but we have had in the past intellectual giants who were unlettered

It is a superstition to think that the fullest development of man is impossible without knowledge of art of reading and writing. While that knowledge undoubtedly adds grace to life, it is in no way indispensable for man's moral, physical or material growth.

On Importance of Development of Skills
Literary education must follow the education of the hand --the one gift that distinguishes man from beast.

See Also:

History of EducationHistory of Education
Full text of Jyotsna Kamat's book documenting the tradition of education in Karnataka through the centuries; covers Buddhist, Jaina, Hindu, and Islamic educational systems.

Education in India Through the Ages
Education in India

Pictures
Jain Preceptor and StudentDancer and her TeacherEducated and Accomplished WomenListening to a Moral LessonA Guru and a DescipleGirl Learning to Write
The Scholar of GokarnWrestling SchoolEducation of Jain NunsTeacher and StudentsTeacher is teaching Sword TrickeryBuddhist Student Practices Handwriting
Education of the KingThree Storied Buddhist UniversityGirl Practicing the Veena InstrumentAncient University CampusBrahmin Reads ScripturesOriental Scholar  of Buddhist period
Three-storied Buddhist school in ElloraPunishment for Destroying Educational InstitutionsThe Design and Decorations of Palm-leaf textsEducation of the future kingA teacher examines the homework submitted by the princess. A 19th century painting from KarnatakaGirl Engaged in Self Study
A Girl Practicing the Veena  instrumentThe Reciting BrahmanA Jain Teacher and his ToolsA Muslim Father Taking Son to Makhtab (school)The Asri Mahal LibraryGirl Carrying a Slate
Education of Jain NunsA Writing Shilabalika
Kamat's Potpourri Timeless Theater Education in India

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