The Wardha Scheme of Education –GANDHI JI POINT OF VIEW


Dr. V.K. Maheshwari, Former Principal

K.L.D.A.V(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Manjul Lata Agrawal. M.A. (History) B.T.

Former Principal S.K.V, Delhi Cantt. Delhi.


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

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.

Education should be so revolutionized as to answer the wants of the poorest villager, instead of answering those of an imperial exploiter

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.

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.


Education is backbone of society and is largely responsible for is upliftment. Gandhi was a critic of traditional education and viewed

Literacy in itself is no Education. Literacy is not the end of Education or even the beginning. By Education  I mean the drawing out  of the best in child and man ,body mind and spirit

His Wardha scheme was pointer in this direction. Accordingly, these should be the basic tenets of Gandhian education.

A love for manual work will be injected in the mind of children. This is not a compulsion but the child will learn it by doing. Being free from mere bookish knowledge, a student should resort to manual work. He, thus, put emphasis on vocational and functional education.

“Earning while learning” was the motto of this education. This wills increase the creativity in a student. As Gandhi wanted to make Indian village’s self-sufficient units, he emphasised that vocational education should increase the efficiency within the students who will make the village as self-sufficient units.

The Wardha Scheme of Education is also known as Nai Talim/Basic Education/Buniyadi Talim (Shiksha)/Basic Shiksha The scheme was the outcome of sound thinking of Ghandiji. who initiated and strengthened several constructive programmes for the economic, educational and social development of the people. He considered education as an effective instrument of national reconstruction.

Origin of the Scheme

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 Ghandiji found the main defects of the system of education as, “I am fully convinced that present system of education is not only wasteful but positively harmful. They would pickup evil habits. English has created a permanent bar between the highly educated few and the uneducated many.” He further said, “let us now cry a halt and concentrate on educating the child properly through manual work not as a side activity but as a prime means of intellectual activity.”

In July 1937, Ghandiji wrote in the Harijan, “By education, I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man – body, mind and spirit… Literacy itself is not education, I would, therefore, begin the child’s education by teaching it a useful handicraft and enabling it to produce from the moment it begins its training. Thus every school can be made self-supporting, the condition begin that the state takes over the manufacture of these schools.”

Wardha Education Conferance

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.

1)     That in the opinion of this Conference, free and compulsory education be provided for seven years on a nation-wide scale;

2)     That the medium of instruction be the mother-tongue;

3)     That the conference endorses the proposal, made by Mahatma Gandhi, that the process of education throughout this period should centre around some productive form of manual work, and that all other abilities to be developed or training should be given, as far as possible, be integrally related to the central handicraft chosen with due regard to the environment of the child.

4)     That the conference expects that the system of education will be gradually able to cover the remuneration of the teachers.

Appointment of a Committee

The conference appointed a committee of distinguished educationists under the chairmanship of Dr. Zakir Hussain,  the Committee consisted of nine members.

Prof. K. G. Saiidain

Arya Nayakam,

Vinova Bhave,

Kaka Kalelkar,

J. C. Kumarappa,

Kishori Lal,

Prof. K. T. Shah etc.

The report of the committee published in March 1938, 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 Congress accepted the scheme.

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

Significance of the word ‘Basic’

One. The word ‘Basic’ is derived from the word ‘Base’ which means the bottom or the foundation of a thing upon which the whole things rests or is made. It is basic because it is based on ancient Indian culture. It is basic because it lays down the minimum educational standards which every Indian child is entitled to receive without any distinction of caste and creed. It is basic because it is closely related to the basic needs and interests of the child. It is basic because it make use of native potentialities of the child. It is basic because it is intimately related to the basic occupations of the community. It is basic because it is for the common man of the country, who is the foundation and backbone of our national life. It is basic because it comes first in time, i.e., it is the primary period of one’s education.

As 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.

Basic education links the children, whether of the cities or the villages, to all that is best and lasting in India.”

Meaning and Philosophy of Basic 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. . 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

Main Features of Wardha Scheme

“What is really required to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education.” The fundamental features of the scheme which was evolved in due course are as follows:

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. )     Free and compulsory education to be given for 8 years ( from 6 to 14 years) in two stages, instead of 7 to 14. the junior stage covering 5 years and the senior 3 years.

Craft Centred Education :

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.

The 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 emphasized. The various subjects  are —

1. Basic Craft.

The craft chosen must not be taught mechanically, but systematically and scientifically keeping in view the social significance.

(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 tong

9) English has not been included as a subject of study.

10) Although the medium of instruction is mother tongue, all students must learn Hindi language.

11) There is no place for religious and moral education in the curriculum

12)     A school of say 5 ½ hours could roughly be divided on the following basis:

Physical activities…                                                             20 minutes

Mother Tongue…                                                                  20 minutes

Social Studies & General Science                                     60 minutes

Art                                                                                           40 minutes

Arithmetic                                                                               20 minutes

Craft work including study of correlated subjects…                      2 ½ hours

Thus the craft work will have 2 ½ hours instead of 3 hrs & 20 min.

13)     External examinations are to be abolished. The day-to-day work of the student is to be the determining factor.

14)     Text books to be avoided as far as possible.

15)     Cleanliness and health, citizenship, play and recreation are to be given sufficient importance.

Merits of Wardha Scheme

India is a democratic country and success of democracy depends upon the enlightened citizens. Our great leaders like Gokhale worked for the introduction of compulsory education for long time. In his historic speech, Gokhale said that if elementary education was to spread in India, it must be made compulsory and if it was to be compulsory it must be free.

Ghandiji dream of classless society, free of exploitation — economic and social—can be realized only if everyone is educated

“…You have to start with the conviction that looking to the need of the villages of India our rural education ought to be made self-supporting if it is to be compulsory. This education ought to be for the kind of insurance against unemployment.

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. It balances the intellectual and practical elements of experience, and may be made an instrument of educating the body and the mind in coordination.

Socially considered,   It is also  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  reconstruction the introduction of such practical productive work in education, to be participated in by all the children of the nation, will tend to break down the existing barriers of prejudice between manual and intellectual workers, harmful alike for both. It will also cultivate in the only possible way a true sense of dignity of labor and of human solidarity – an ethical and moral gain of incalculable significance.

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  Economically considered, carried out intelligently and efficiently, the scheme will increase the productive capacity of our workers and will also enable them to utilize their leisure advantageously.

From the strictly educational point of view greater concreteness and reality can be given to the knowledge acquired by children by making some significant craft the basis of education. Knowledge will thus become related to life, and its various aspects will be correlated with one another.

Activity Curriculum: In order to work out an effective and natural coordination of the various subjects and to make the syllabus a means of adjusting the child intelligently and actively to his environment, the Wardha Scheme laid stress on three centres, intrinsically inter-connected, as the foci for the curriculum, i.e. the Physical Environ ment, the Social Environment, and Craft Work, which is their natural meeting point since it utilizes the resources of the former for the purpose of the latter.

Basic Education in Rural as well as in Urban areas: It is wrong to assume that basic education is intended to be imparted in rural areas only. “In fact, in one sense there is greater need for basic education in urban areas than in rural areas. In rural areas the children who participate in the life of the farm or allied occupation of their families have certain types of further education. In performing their jobs the children come in to direct contact with actual life and with the experience they get forms the basis of further education. On the other hand in large towns and big industrial cities the children miss the opportunity for rich experiences and direct contact with life”, observed Dr. K.L. Shrimali.

Basic education is not a class education: the ultimate objective of basic education is to create a social order in which there is no unnatural divisions between ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’ and every one is assure of a living wage and the right to freedom.

Craft Work in School: Modern educational thought is practically unanimous in commending the idea of educating children through some suitable form of productive work. This method is considered to be the most effective approach to the problem of providing an integral all-sided education. It is useful on account of the following:

Education through Correlation: Correlation is one of the important feature and crux of basic education. In this scheme of education, Ghandiji wished to give knowledge as a compact whole. The modern educationist also advocated this. The basic education is therefore, an effort to correlate the life of the child with his immediate physical and social environment. It is an effort to make knowledge easier and at the same time more meaningful.

Free and Compulsory Education: Seven years free and compulsory education is one of the fundamentals of his scheme and this cardinal principle has been emphasized due to two reasons:

Greater Freedom for the Teacher and the Student: In basic education, discipline does not mean order and external restraint but an intelligent use of freedom. The teacher gets many opportunity to make experiments, think for himself and put his idea and plan to practice.

Integrated Knowledge: Basic education treats knowledge as an integrated whole. Curriculum is build around three integrally related centers:        (i) Physical environment, (ii) Social environment, and (iii) Craft work.

Learning by Doing: Learning by doing sums up the educational methods of basic education. It is absolutely wrong to think that true education is acquired from books alone. There are other methods and sources which are more helpful in acquiring true knowledge. ‘Chalk’ and ‘Talk’ lessons are also not very useful. All educationists have condemned bookish knowledge. Ghandiji believed that school must be a ‘doing things’. In basic system of education children acquire the knowledge of the formal school subjects as a bye-product of purposeful activities.

Modification of the Views of Mahatma Gandhi on Self-sufficiency; Zakir Hussain Committee pointed out the danger of overdoing of craft work and warned that oral work, drawing and expression work should not be lost sight of. The educative aspect is more important than the economic aspect. It thus shifted the emphasis from complete support to partial self-support. It was felt that with the earnings through sale of craft products, uniform for the students or mid-day meal or purchase of some necessary equipment may be made.

Mother Tongue as a Medium of Instruction: It is now universally recognized that the young child can learn with great facility if the medium of instruction is its mother tongue. Ghandiji asserted that no education is possible through foreign medium and all elementary education must be imparted through the medium of mother tongue.

Not only from economic point of view, must this education be self-sufficient, but also from social and moral point of view. This means that at the end of the period of basic education the individual should become self-reliant and self-supporting.”

Relationship with Life: A basic school must become an active environment where teaching is not cut off from the life of the miniature community of the school and community itself. Education is to be directed to the need of life. It is not to pursue an idea which has no relation with or is totally isolated from the real situations of life.

Self-Sufficiency: Ghandiji felt that the educational system as introduced by the foreigners in India was expensive and it was very difficult for a poor country like India to spread education if it follows that system. So Ghandiji went a step further and declared that New Eduaction must not only be worked centered but must also be self-supporting.

Social Activities and Community Life: The corner-stone of Basic education lies in the activities and the community life of school. Apart from craft, productive activities and occupations find an important place in the curriculum of a basic school. Living together and doing together is the soul of any progressive system of education and basic system fully incorporates this in its curriculum and methods of teaching.

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.

The Wardha Scheme of Education attempted to draft an ‘activity curriculum’, which implies that our school must be places of work, experimentation and discovery, not of passive absorption of information imparted at second hand. It stressed this principle by advocating that all teaching should be carried on through concrete life situations relating to craft or to social and physical environment, so that whatever a child learns becomes assimilated into his growing activities.

Training in Citizenship: Basic education aims at developing ideas of mutual understanding and habits of cooperative and mutually helpful living among the students through its various practical and constructive programs the new education aims at giving the citizens of future a keen sense of personal warmth, dignity and efficiency. It is likely to strengthen in them the desire of self-improvement and social service in a cooperative community.

Limitations of of Wardha Scheme

1-Unsound Psychological Foundations of Wardha Scheme of Education:

“The delicate but inexorable laws governing the development of the tender mind of the child have been completely ignored. The child is treated just as a policeman or a soldier, merely as a unit in a homogeneous mass. His individuality is ignored. He is viewed merely as a means to an end—the end being earning capacity and citizenship of sorts.

“play is the only means by which creative energy can be released. Enlightened and informed educational opinion all over the civilized world is dedicatedly against forcing the child to learn a craft before he is twelve plus. It is nothing short of cruelty to make the child earn an anna or half an anna per hour during the stage when he ought to be playing and enjoying himself.

“There are three aspect of human nature—cognitive, affective and co native. The Wardha Scheme emphasizes the last aspect piously hoping that the student will wily-nilly get trained in the first through his training in the last. The middle aspect is completely ignored.

1-Undue Emphasis on Craft as the Only Basis of Correlation:

It is impossible to establish any natural association between craft and all the subjects of cultural value which any sane system of education should cover through its curriculum. Teaching should be concrete and should be based on the child’s active experience in his environment. But it is absurd to hang all knowledge from the peg of single craft.

1-No Place for Religious Education:

“Education suited to our national genius should have definite religious basis, with contempt of worldly pursuits in its core. Craft-centered education is decidedly alien to our ancient ideals.

2-Basic Education not Suited in an Age of Industrialization:

As ours is a system of education which claims to produce an integrated individual, the emphasis is out of place in a community which has its face turned towards developing its economy to the full. So far Basic education fails to relate to the economic policy of state. But if this point is ignored, we shall find ourselves burdened with an educational system which turns out misfits even more rapidly than the one with which we are so dissatisfied .With rapid industrialization of India, knowledge of science and mathematics may become more desirable than skill in handicrafts.

1-Neglect of the child:

In a hurry to pay more attention to craft, it has neglected the child. Basic education is looked upon more as a social and economic duty than as a joyful adventure.” An Craft is only a slogan, a fiction, which is practiced on commercial occasions for the benefits of visitors. In a basic school only two-third or half the normal time is given to academic education, the rest being taken up by crafts. And further, since on the time-table academic subjects generally come after the craft work, mostly agriculture, students are sometime too tired to take to academic work kindly .Students spend one-third or half the time for craft work without acquiring any dexterity worth speaking of in any craft.

Reasons for Failure of Basic Education

After the independence Basic scheme of education made good progress for about a decade but gradually due to several difficulties it failed to become a permanent and lasting feature of our educational system . The causes may be —

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.

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