A common space for harmonic peacemakers
“The ancient aphorism, ‘Education is that which liberates’ is as true today as it was before. Education here does not mean mere spiritual knowledge, nor does liberation signify only spiritual liberation after death. Knowledge includes all training that is useful for the service of mankind and liberation means freedom from all manners of servitude even in the present life. Servitude is of two kinds: slavery to domination from outside and one’s own artificial needs. The knowledge acquired in the pursuit of this ideal alone constitutes true study.” –MK Gandhi
The above statement of Mahatma Gandhi categorically reveals what he expected out of education. For the Mahatma, as is evident from the above, education [Shiksha in Indian term] is the pathway to liberation, i.e.: Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye. It is a process that leads to all-round development of one’s personality, to take her or him to a desired goal. Hence, it is meant for making life worthy and meaningful. It is, therefore, an endless imagination, a radical concept and an enormous process to make the life full of joy and prosperity.
The process of education continues lifelong. It ends with one’s last breath. Mahatma Gandhi fully subscribed to this reality of education, i.e. it being a lifelong process. Through this process a human being learns till her or his last breath, acquiring knowledge and developing skill. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi himself, “Education is an unending process.” Moreover, “Education…helps mould and shape human body, mind and character in such a manner that they act as means to achieve joy and efficiency.” [Gandhi in Current Perspective, page 84]
“This”, Mahatma Gandhi says further, “works for the all-round development of man right from the beginning till the end. Its ultimate aim is to turn human knowledge into his ability. It is for the purpose of making his life worthy and meaningful…” [Essays on Gandhism and Peace, page 10]
This is a process, the Mahatma states, “of all-round drawing out of the best in child and man –in body, mind and spirit.” [Harijan, July 31, 1937]
From the above statements of the Gandhi, everything becomes clear about his viewpoint pertaining to meaning and purpose of education. We can, however, draw following conclusions from these statements:
Undoubtedly, this is one of the finest explanations and estimations of education. From this, the importance of the Gandhian view of education could be well understood, observed and evaluated.
Further, the worth and importance of the Gandhian view of education increases tremendously when it is assessed from value education viewpoint and that too in current perspective, in the Twenty-First Century, a time space that is rapidly converting earth into a global village. Moreover, a Century that is calling one and all to a nest of togetherness; to come forward to work with the sole spirit of co-ordination and co-operation at all levels and in all walks of life. The Gandhian view of value education predominantly consists of the following two aspects:
Along with this, the value education of the Gandhian view is dedicated to the welfare of one and all. It is, in fact, not only a message or the sermon of making value education real as per its literal meaning as well as the spirit in the root of it, but it is also an effort at translating it into action.
The moral and ethical learning is the process of infusing one with the commitment to duties and responsibilities right from the beginning. This process calls upon man to imbibe virtues and make them integral part of his practices. Thus, it is the way of character-building alongside the natural growth of body and mind, so that one becomes one’s own candle and is enabled, as Mahatma Gandhi pointed out, “to identify with the whole mankind.” [Harijan, December 24, 1938] Only on the strength of this learning and knowledge can one proceed towards an all-round development of personality and achieve her/his set goals in life. That is why; in Gandhian view, morality and ethics are the first and foremost aspects of value education as well as the acid test of how deft one is in discharging one’s duties and responsibilities.
Doubtless, self-sufficiency of woman and man is the second vital aspect of value education of Gandhian view. The learning should be such that after completing education one is not left worried about her or his future. Rather, she or he is so enabled that on the basis of her or his learning and knowledge she or he continues moving forward on the pathway to progress and achieve the desired goal. Mahatma Gandhi, during his lifetime, proposed it as Buniyadi [basic] education. However, it is always a subject open to refinement and modification as per the demands of time and space, and also as per the available resources at local and national levels.
For this, Mahatma Gandhi specifically urged for preparing a suitable ground by way of such schemes and plans for education that could pave way for all-round development of personality in prevailing situations of time and space, and without compromising with values and their blending with the process of education. This could be well observed from the following two short statements of Mahatma Gandhi, “Education must be of new type for the sake of the creation of a new world.” [Harijan, September 8, 1946] And, “It is not literacy or learning, which makes a man, but education for real life.” [Harijan, February 2, 1947]
A critical and unbiased analysis of above two worthy statements of Mahatma Gandhi can suffice to prove adaptability and significance of the Gandhian view of value education. Mahatma Gandhi remained cogently committed to progress and newer avenues, but without giving up on values. He never embraced centuries old dogmatic beliefs, traditions, or superstitions. He desired the same from fellow beings –general and elite, that they overcome fallacies and make their life meaningful.
Mahatma Gandhi’s views on value education and his works thereof should be assessed, examined and monitored sans prejudice, keeping above-mentioned facts in mind. From this, the adaptability and significance of the Gandhian viewpoint of value education in current perspective –in the Twenty-First Century, would automatically become clear.