what was the wrdha scheme of basic education?
The Wardha scheme of Education, popularly known as ‘Basic education’ occupies a unique place in the field of elementary education in India. This scheme was the first attempt to develop an indigenous scheme of education in British India by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation. As a nationalist leader he fully realised that the British system of education could not serve the socio-economic need of the country. 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. Gandhiji said “I am convinced that the present system of education is not only wasteful but positively harmful.”
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 on a nation-wide scale.
2.That the medium of instruction be the mother tongue.
3.That the process of education through this period should centre round some form of manual productive work suitable for the local condition.
4. That the conference expects that the system of education will be gradually able to cover the remuneration of the teacher.
After the Independence it was quite natural to pay more attention to the Scheme propounded by the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. So in the era that followed Basic Scheme made good progress for about a decade and a half. In this progress the following two factors were especially attended to:
1. To provide free compulsory primary education throughout the whole country.
2. To convert all the primary schools of the country into Basic schools.
In principle Basic education was accepted as primary education and this policy was implemented throughout the whole country. But I following practical difficulties came over the surface in this process. Consequently, the desired progress had not yet been obtained in this matter:
1. Lack of adequate building and study-materials and other allied equipments.
2. Lack of trained teachers for imparting Basic education.
3. The difficulty in actual implementation experienced by the teachers.
4. Due to rising cost of living lack of adequate emoluments for teachers.
5. Opposition of this Scheme in some parts of the country.
At first spinning and weaving and agricultural work were accepted as the medium of instruction in Basic schools. But this medium was not practicable for many places. Therefore, other handicrafts were also given a place. Thus it was hoped that Basic education would make good progress.
The National Government gave attention to the scheme. Hence some progress was made in the beginning The Government tried hard to remove the dearth of trained teachers because the success of the scheme depended upon suitable teachers.
For training teachers many training institutions were opened. Some of them worthy of mention have been the Jamia Milia Islamic Teachers Training Institute, Delhi, Nai Talim Bhavan, Sevagram, Sri Ram Krishna Mission Vidyalaya. Teachers' Basic Centre, Coimbatore, Graduate Basic Training Centre, Dhulia, Bombay, Sarvodaya Mahavidyalaya, Bihar, Vidya Bhavan, Udaipurand Shanti Niketan.
The various Provincial Governments have been enthusiastic to implement the scheme in their respective areas. The Assam Government converted the Guru Training Centres into Basic Training Centres. The best work in this connection was done in Bihar.
Almost all the teachers of Basic schools in Bihar were trained. The inspectors of Basic school have also been trained in Bihar for their inspection work. The Sarvodaya Mahavidyalaya was established in Narsingh Nagar for training administrative officers of Basic schools. In Bombay twenty government training centres were opened for training Basic teachers.
About 3000 teachers every year were trained in these twenty centres. Separate arrangements were made for training graduate teachers in Sevagram. In other provinces also arrangements have been made for training basic school teachers.
In the beginning the Basic Education Scheme appeared to be fruitful and in many provinces attempts have been made to expand the scheme in secondary schools and degree colleges also. As we have already said earlier, Bihar has been the leader in this field. There is addition to Sarvodaya Mahavidyalaya at Tarki, 32 training centres were also opened.
Out of these 32 centres thirteen were in the area of secondary and higher education and nineteen for training teachers for Basic schools. But financial assistance did not come with the same speed with which training centres were opened. As a result, the expected progress could not be achieved.