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Wardha Scheme of Basic Education 1937

Last Updated : 10 Sep, 2023
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The Wardha Scheme of Basic Education was the consequence of Mahatma Gandhi’s realization of India’s non-effective education system. In 1931 Mahatma Gandhi for the first time attended the Second Round Table Conference (RTC) in London, where he highlighted the deterioration of the education system in India and held British education policy responsible, for the severe downfall of education in India. Later, in 1937 Mahatma Gandhi published an article in his weekly Magazine ‘Harijan’ about his viewpoints on the failing education system in India.  He also wrote about the schemes that can be followed to expand the education system to every section of society.
During the 1937 elections, the Indian National Congress (INC) candidates had projected free and compulsory education as one of their manifestoes. Post their win, INC decided to take forward Gandhi’s Education scheme, published in Harijan’. Congress decided to officially propose the scheme with some modifications. Therefore, in this regard All India National Educational Conference’ was held at Wardha. Gandhiji was also at the conference and piloted the resolutions taken along with other educationists, Congress leaders, and Ministers. 

In this Wardha Education Conference held on October 22 and 23, 1937, the following three basic resolutions were passed:

  1. Nationwide Free and Compulsory Education for 7 years
  2. Mother Tongue will be the Medium of Instruction
  3. Education will be centered around manual or productive work, not just for Degree and examination. Hence it integrated the Physical Environment, Social Environment, and Craft Work. 

Based upon this meeting at Wardha, a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Zakir Hussain was formed. The Committee submitted the first extensive National Basic Education Scheme in its report in March 1938, which is known as the Wardha Scheme of Basic Education. It is also called as Nai Talim/Basic Education/Buniyadi Talim (Shiksha)/ Buniyadi Shiksha.

The Main Features of the Wardha Scheme are as follows:

  • Free and Compulsory Education will be provided to everybody for 8 years within the age bracket of 6 to 14 years. It was irrespective of Gender, Culture, or religion. However, if parents desired their girls to leave at the age of 12 years, it was allowed. 
              – The First 5 years were for Junior Stage
              – The next 3 years for the Senior Stage
  • They made the Mother Tongue the main medium of instruction for imparting education in all regions. Understanding the fact that Mother Tongue education will lay a stronger foundation for education. 
  • The child was allowed to perform at his own pace, with no compulsion to finish the course and no fear of examinations. Sufficient flexibility of the curriculum and a free environment for the child to perform was one of the salient features.
  • The education was to be given along with regional craftwork or productive work. The purpose was to integrate education with a local handicraft through the Samavaaya (Samanvay) integration method. It was a work-centric education. The idea behind encouraging craftwork skills was to inculcate collective activity, build self-supportive individuals, the dignity of labor, and emotional development.
  • The main objective of the Self-Supporting education system was to eventually build funds for the teacher’s salaries via the sale of their products. “Learn while you earn and earn while you learn” was the principle behind ‘The Wardha scheme of Basic education 1937’. The state was asked to pay for the school’s other expenditures like furniture, books, tools, and school buildings. However, later on, this was changed to Partial Self-Support by Dr. Zakir Hussain, as they didn’t want to dilute the main purpose, which was the expansion of education to all the regions of the country.

The Optimistic Scope of the Wardha Scheme:

  • The concept of building self-reliant educated individuals in Cities and Villages of India was a highly prudent decision. 
  • It aimed at a classless society. By removing English language barriers and imparting education in the mother tongue, it was heading towards National Integration. 
  • And the flexibility to incorporate changes anytime in the future for its betterment was commendable, most importantly there was no place for religious education.
  • Provided a balance of intellectual and practical experience
  • Earning money for self-education would have solved the problem of unemployment, and the disparity between educated and non-educated classes. 

The Shortfalls of the Wardha Scheme of Basic Education 1937:

  • The negative psychological effect was ignored as kids were studying and working simultaneously.
  • Lack of coordination between officially involved and unofficially engaged people
  • Inadequate supply of knowledgeable trained teachers. This was one of the important causes of the failure of the Basic education scheme.
  • It was unable to establish a correlation between school subjects and handicrafts, particularly when rapid industrialization was the need of the hour. 
  • The focus had shifted to craftwork rather than accumulating education. Some even complained that it was turning the school into a small-scale industry.
  • Immediately after the Wardha Scheme, World War II started in 1939. And the Indian National congress ministers resigned in protest against the Britishers.

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