Higher Education – As Gandhi Perceived it

Higher Education – As Gandhi Perceived it


“What is really needed to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known to us as Mahatma Gandhi, the ‘Father of the Nation’, was a strong advocate for higher education in the country. A man revered for his honesty, regarding education, Mahatma Gandhi had said,

“It might be true regarding other countries but in India where 80% of the population is occupied with agriculture and 10% of it with industries, it is an offence to make education merely literary.”

So, what did he mean when he said this? Experts perceive this as him saying that students should not be taught only literary education but also important subjects like the sciences, economics, history, etc.

He realized the potential of the Indian youth. Mahatma Gandhi’s views on higher education can be used as a template for bettering the education infrastructure in the country. He was a great learned man who had experienced the extremes of life. Therefore, his views can make a real difference.


Mahatma Gandhi’s Educational Journey

Mahatma Gandhi, a highly educated man himself, had to struggle a lot for his education. From struggling in school, to having to dropped out, he faced it all. But all this made him realize the importance of higher education. He even felt education should be compulsory for all and said the following:

“Arrangements should be made for free and compulsory education to all up to the secondary level without any discrimination of lineage, gender, creed, caste or sub-caste.”


Mahatma Gandhi’s Thoughts on Colleges

Mahatma Gandhi wanted our country’s colleges to be self-financed. And by that, he meant that colleges should not be dependent upon help from the government. They should be able to provide free education and pay their staff through their own resources. Though bold, this is an amazing thought that would make education accessible to all with minimal government interference. During the days of Mahatma Gandhi, most of the colleges were agricultural, and a very few engineering, medical, law, and commerce colleges, but he wanted all to be self-financed.


The Self-financed Model

But if higher education is free for the students, how would colleges be self-sufficient, as students would be their only source of income? What Mahatma Gandhi wanted was colleges and universities to be directly connected to the industries, and produce graduates as per the demand of the industry. This way, there wouldn’t be any disparity and there would be enough jobs for everyone according to their education. He was truly a visionary.

Another way Mahatma Gandhi thought colleges could be self-financed was through donations and voluntary organizations. They could collect donations from the public and alumni and ensure that higher education was free and accessible to all. Donations would also ensure that colleges could grow in the way they wanted. Voluntary organisations are also a great way to ensure that people from the education field were in control of education in the country.


Hierarchy for Higher Education

Mahatma Gandhi gave so much thought and importance to higher education that he even had an idea for the hierarchy. Though we have been following that same hierarchy in the country, we haven’t understood what Mahatma Gandhi truly wanted from the hierarchy. Gandhi wanted colleges to be governed by the universities, and universities to be governed by the government. This is currently how higher education in the country is being managed, but what Mahatma Gandhi wanted was the governing bodies only to be watchdogs and give freedom to the colleges to evolve on their own.

Sadly, this hasn’t happened in the country but there is hope in the form of private universities. Private universities are leading innovation in the country’s education system. They are taking education in various fields to new heights and creating professionals who are changing the industries in the country and the world. So, the dream of Mahatma Gandhi is not gone but continues to live on in our private universities.

Mahatma Gandhi was truly a visionary. He had some amazing ideas for higher education in the country, and hopefully, we will be able to achieve his dream and become a nation built on excellent education and morals.


Reference Links

Mahatma Gandhi And Higher Education: A Critical Analysis | Education | Articles on and by Mahatma Gandhi (mkgandhi.org)

Mahatma Gandhi’s Education | Articles on and by Mahatma Gandhi (mkgandhi.org)


By –

Gurshan Singh

Content Manager,

Communications and Alumni Relations Department

Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal

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