Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937)

Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937) which is also known as Nai Talim / Buniyadi talim was the outcome of thinking of Mahatma Gandhi. He considered education as an effective instrument of national reconstruction.

Origin of Gandhi's Wardha Scheme of Basic Education 1937

At the second round table conference in London in 1931, Mahatma Gandhi pointed out the ineffectiveness of primary education under the British rule. He held the British policy responsible for the painful situation of mass education in India. He criticized English education as it had created a permanent bar between the educated few and the majority, who were mainly illiterate. The origin of Gandhi's wardha scheme of basic education 1937 can be traced back to the year 1937 when Mahatma Gandhi talked about this scheme of education in his weekly Harijan. By education, he meant all round development of person's body, mind, and spirit. He proposed a system of self supporting education.

During this period, Indian National Congress had been pleading for free and compulsory Universal education. When Congress Ministries were elected in the provincial elections of 1937, it became the duty of Congress to implement it into action. However, it required huge amount of funds which was lacking. To solve this problem Mahatma Gandhi put forward his scheme of self supporting education. He placed his basic education system in the Wardha conference of 1937.

Wardha Education Conference 1937

To discuss the proposed new education scheme, an all India Education Conference was held in Wardha on 22nd and 23rd October 1937. After this discussion on education, following resolutions were passed:

  • Nationwide provision of free and compulsory education.
  • Mother tongue should be the medium of instruction.
  • The conference endorsed Mahatma Gandhi's proposal that education should be centered around some productive form of manual work and be integrally related to the central handicraft.

Appointment of Zakir Hussain committee

  • A committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Dr. Zakir Hussain to formulate the scheme of basic education in India. The report submitted by the committee and published in March 1938, came to be known as Wardha scheme of education.
  • The report included the Wardha scheme of education, its objectives, organisation of schools, their administration, and inspection, promotion of craft centered education like spinning, weaving etc. The second report included agriculture, woodcraft metal work, and other basic handicrafts.

Salient features of Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937)

  • Free and compulsory education: Free and compulsory education was to be given for 8 years (from 6 to 14 years). It was to be given in two stages, the junior stage covering 5 years and senior stage for 3 years.
  • Craft centered education: The idea behind the scheme was to provide education through some form of craft or productive work. It was to relieve the child from the tyranny of purely academic and theoretical instruction and to break down the existing barriers of prejudice between manual and intellectual work.
  • Self-supporting education: It aimed to provide such kind of education which can be self-supporting in later life. The basic idea of Mahatma Gandhi was that if the craft which is chosen is taught properly, it would enable the school to pay the salaries of teachers. It would also ensure the dignity of labor along with livelihood for the students after leaving school.
  • The medium of instruction: the Zakir Hussain committee had proposed that proper teaching in the mother tongue should be the foundation of all education. Mother tongue would have helped to speak, read and write correctly and effectively and to develop precision of thought and clarity of ideas.
  • Theidea of citizenship:the Wardha scheme aimed at providing the citizens of future an opportunity of personal growth, dignity, and efficiency in a cooperative community. A new system was required to secure minimum education for an intelligent exercise of various rights and duties of the citizens.
  • Flexible curriculum: the scheme provided for a flexible curriculum and the students and teachers were free to work according to their interest and requirement. There was no compulsion to complete a prescribed portion under the fear of examinations.
  • The various subjects were the basic craft, mother tongue, mathematics, Social Studies, painting, music, and sports etc. English was not included in the curriculum. However, it was mandatory to learn the Hindi language.
  • Religious education was not the part of the curriculum of Gandhi's wardha scheme of basic education 1937.

Evaluation of Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937)

Merits of Gandhi's Wardha Scheme of Basic Education 1937

  • The inclusion of craft work in the school was psychologically desirable as it balanced the intellectual and practical elements of experience. It was desirable as it introduced practical productive work and education. In a country like India, it would have helped for rapid expansion of elementary education without putting a large burden on the public exchequer.
  • Mahatma Gandhi felt that education system introduced by the British was very expensive and difficult to implement in India. So he wanted to make education work centric and self supporting. It was thought to provide a kind of insurance against unemployment.
  • The Zakir Hussain committee had pointed out the problems of overdoing craft work. Thus it was modified to shift the emphasis from complete support to partial support.
  • The Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937) provided for free and compulsory education in mother tongue. This was thought to create a classless society, free from any form of exploitation, either social or economic.
  • The emphasis on the correlation between the physical and social environment is an effort to make knowledge easier and meaningful. This is even advocated by modern educationists.
  • The system was to bring social solidarity and national integration by removing the barriers between educated and uneducated, rich and poor and between manual and intellectual work.

Limitations of Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937)

  • The Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937) has been criticized for ignoring the negative psychological effects of work at such a young age. It would have been better if the provision to learn craft would have been after the age of 12 to allow for the proper mental and psychological development of the child.
  • The basic education provided under Wardha scheme do not relate to the economic policy of the state in the age of industrialisation. Due to fast and rapid industrialisation, the knowledge of science and mathematics may become more desirable than the skills in handicrafts.
  • Further, since the subjects included craft work due to which the students are sometimes too tired to take on the academic teaching properly. This hampers the overall objective of the education system.

Wardha Scheme of Education 1937 and its implementation

The Work on Wardha Scheme of Education (1937) was initiated mainly after independence and the basic scheme of education made decent progress for about a decade. But gradually due to several problems and challenges the Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937) could not remain permanent.

Failure of basic education

After independence, this basic scheme of education failed to become a permanent and lasting feature of the education system. The self supporting aspect of the system was severely criticized for turning the School into a small scale industry. There was a neglect of liberal education due to too much emphasis on craft. lack of funds and absence of proper administrative policy was also responsible for its failure. Lack of supply of well trained teachers was also an important reason for its failure.

Though this scheme has failed, its fundamental principles are still relevant for our present education System. it can be reformed on modern lines to serve the present requirements.

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