Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar is widely known as the father of the Indian Constitution, his intellect, socio-politics and activism for the rights of the lower castes.
Behind his greatness stood his education. He was of the firm belief that education is a revolution if it does not serve the purpose then education is of no use. A lesser-known fact, he himself had 26 degrees and titles including his PHDs. Let’s delve into his thoughts and work in the field of education.
Babasaheb was of the thought that the purpose of primary education was to instil knowledge in every child and turn the child into literate. But such were the times that school used to see more dropouts every year. Babasaheb had foreseen this problem a long time ago. He knew that just enrolling a child into a school was not enough. Keeping a track of their progress was equally important and hence he requested, the then education minister to invest more in primary education.
Commercialization of Education
As we are well aware, Babasaheb believed not a single person should be reprieved of education and definitely not because of the financial situation. He had concerns for the lower orders of society. They were just at the stage of enrolling into high schools and colleges, considering the financial situation of the lower orders it was even more necessary to cheapen the cost of education. Hence, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar talked about and openly protested against the commercialization of education.
Dr Ambedkar’s work and view on education are yet to be studied in depth – the fact that he had been working in the field of education since he founded Hitkarini Sabha back in 1924. More people become aware of education and walking towards their enlightenment was the major objective of this organisation. Hitkarini Sabha set up many colleges, hostels, libraries and reading centres. After this Dr Ambedkar constituted Lok Shaikshik Samaj to ensure that the backward class got higher education. This organization apart from setting up colleges and middle schools also extended financial assistance to hostels.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar believed that education is the way to raise the standard of living. His thoughts were not just restricted to theories but he also worked to turn those ideas into reality His slogan, ‘ Educate, Unite, Struggle’ is a firm indicator of that. Education being the first word of the slogan, he knew it has a significant role in the building of the character of a human and its consciousness. In his own words, “Education is what makes a person fearless, teaches him the lesson of unity, makes him aware of his rights and inspires him to struggle for his rights.” He believed that education is a movement. If it does not fulfil its objectives, it is useless. Dr Ambedkar unambiguously stated that an education that does not make a person capable, that does not teach him equality and morality, is not true education. True education cradles humanity, generates sources of livelihood, imparts wisdom and imbues us with egalitarianism. True education makes society alive.”
The methods of teaching
DR. Ambedkar thought ahead of his time. He heavily favoured the use of scientific methods in primary education. Hygiene and physical health were the two of the major factors he stressed on. According to him, “Good manners, for instance, are the result of continual and rigid self-control, and of consideration for the comfort and convenience of others; children learn manners chiefly by imitation from well-bred parents and teachers and, secondarily, by suitable precept and reproof. If at the school, they are to be made to associate with children not thus trained, they will quickly fall into the ways which they see around them. For, until good habits are rendered fixed by long practice, it is far easier to be slipshod than accurate, to be careless than careful. Gentle speech, well-modulated voice, pleasant ways, these are the valuable results of the long culture.” He was not a professional educationist but his ideas pertaining to education were excellent. He believed that teaching shouldn’t be separated from research. He advocated autonomy of universities in admissions, teaching, examinations and appointments
Understanding Babasaheb’s thoughts on education
Babasaheb wanted education to reach every single person in the society and wanted a system based on 3 major principles, liberty, equality and fraternity. He majorly stressed on moral development. He was not against British education but wanted to give it a humanistic face. He was in favour of an educational system that would go on to produce people who would use reason and logic; which would help in building a society based on logic and reason. He wanted education to liberate the individual’s mind and make him capable of objective, logical and critical analysis. He said that the curricula should be modern, based on scientific reasoning and should cover the modern means of production. He said that the students should be introduced to the means of production and a socialist way of life. Ambedkar believed that literacy should be the prime objective of primary education. Ambedkar also laid stress on cleanliness, physical education and cultural development. He believed that primary education should inculcate such cultural and civilizational values in children that would help them become part of a civilized society. Ambedkar talked about it in detail – so much so that he even proposed the administrative structure of an ideal university. His views on higher education are valid and relevant even today.