Medium of Education
I find daily proof of the increasing & continuing wrong being done to the millions by our false de-Indianizing education....
We seem to have come to think that no one can hope to be like a Bose unless he knows English. I cannot conceive a grosser superstition than this. No Japanese feels so helpless as we seem to do.... The medium of instruction should be altered at once, and at any cost, the provincial languages be given their rightful place. I would prefer temporary chaos in higher education to the criminal waste that is daily accumulating.
Education through a foreign language entails a certain degree of strain, and our boys have to pay dearly for it. To a large extent, they lose the capacity of shouldering any other burden afterwards, for they become a useless lot who are weak of body, without any zest for work and mere imitators of the West. They have little interest in original research or deep thinking, and the qualities of courage, perseverance, bravery and fearlessness are lacking. That is why we are unable to make new plans or carry out projects to meet our problems. In case we make them we fail to implement them. A few who do show promise usually die young.......
We, the English educated people, alone are unable to assess the great loss that this factor has caused. Some idea of its immensity would be had if we could estimate how little we have influenced the general mass of our people.
The school must be an extension of home. There must be concordance between the impressions which a child gathers at home and at school, if the best results are to be obtained. Education through the medium of a strange tongue breaks the concordance which should exist. Those who break this relationship are enemies of the people even though their motives may be honest. To be a voluntary victim of this system of education is as good as the betrayal of our duty towards our mothers. The harm done by this alien type of education does not stop here; it goes much further. It has produced a gulf between the educated classes and the masses. The people look on us as beings apart from them. It is my considered opinion that English education in the manner it has been given has emasculated the English educated Indian, it has put a severe strain upon the Indian students' nervous energy and has made of us imitators. The process of displacing the vernaculars has been one of the saddest chapters in the British connection. Ram Mohan Roy would have been a greater reformer, and Lokmanya Tilak would have been a greater scholar, if they had not to start with the handicap of having to think in English and transmit their thoughts chiefly in English. Their effect on their own people, marvelous as it was, would have been greater if they would have been educated under a less unnatural system. No doubt they both gained from their knowledge of the rich treasures of English literature. But these should have been accessible to them through their own vernaculars. No country can become a nation by producing a race of imitators.
English is today studied because of its commercial and so called political value. Our boys think, and rightly in the present circumstances, that without English they cannot get into Government service. Girls are taught English as a passport to marriage. I know several instances of women wanting to learn English so that they may be able to talk to Englishmen in English. I know husbands who are sorry that their wives cannot talk to them and their friends in English. I know families in which English is being made the mother tongue. Hundreds of youth believe that without a knowledge of English, freedom for India is practically impossible. The canker has so eaten into the society that in many cases, the only meaning of education is a knowledge of English. All these are for me signs of our slavery and degradation. It is unbearable to me that the vernaculars should be crushed and starved as they have been. I cannot tolerate the idea of parents writing to their children, or husbands writing to their wives, not in their own vernaculars but in English.
The foreign medium has caused brain fag, put an undue strain upon the nerves of our children, made them crammers and imitators, unfit for original work and thought, and disabled them from filtrating their learning to the family or the masses. The foreign medium has made our children practically foreigners in their own lands. It is the greatest tragedy of the existing system. The foreign medium has prevented the growth of our vernaculars. If I had the powers of a despot, I would today stop the tuition of our boys and girls through a foreign medium and require all the teachers and professors on pain of dismissal to introduce the change forthwith. I would not wait for the preparation of text books. They will follow the change. It is an evil that needs a summary remedy.
Among the many evils of foreign rule, this blighting imposition of a foreign medium upon the youth of the country will be counted by history as one of the greatest. It has sapped the energy of the nation, it has shortened the lives of the pupils. It has estranged them from the masses, it has made education unnecessarily expensive. If this process is still persisted in, it bids fair to rob the nation of its soul. The sooner, therefore, educated India shakes itself free from the hypnotic spell of the foreign medium, the better it would be for them and the people.
Source: The selected works of Gandhi, Vol. 5, The Voice of Truth