Jyotiba Phule : Educational Philosophy of Mahatma
Jyotiba with access to justice, equity, and growth for lower castes and women. It asserted that only through education growth could be possible. Phule’s thoughts on education can e summarised as follows- ‘Lack of education leads to a lack of wisdom, which in turn leads to a lack of justice. It leads to a lack of progress, which leads to a lack of money and results in the oppression of the lower castes’.
Mahatma Phule was fully conscious about the importance of education as a tool of social justice and equality. In fact he saw education as the harbinger of a social revolution. The essence of the philosophy of Mahatma Phule was that ‘education is a human right.’ He was indeed the protagonist of the ides of universalisation of educational opportunities.
Universalization of education by Jyotiba Phule
It basically means accepting and extending facilities of education to all caste, creed, religion, sex, and physical or moral disability. Article 45 Indian Constitution is the symbol of victory for the philosophy of equality of educational opportunity propounded by Mahatma Phule. He also worked for education of women and virtually laid the foundation for opening up opportunities for women to seek formal education. This was especially true of women from the marginalised sections.
For achieving the aims, he opened a girl’s school in 1848 at Budhwar Peth in the residential building 6 of Tatya Sahib Bhide. He opened two more schools by 1851, among which one school was for girls of backward class. He had extraordinary ideas about different aspects of education.
Salient Features of the Educational Philosophy of Jyotiba Phule
Since all human beings are equal, access to education must be uniform. Monopolistic controls over education must be curtailed. Universalisation of opportunities and compulsory education must be ensured. In educating individuals, religion, race, caste, and sex should not be considered.
Education should develop humanistic values
The education of women and other deprived groups must be given top priority for establishment of social justice. Education must serve as a binding force in society. A primary school teacher must be a trained person and sufficient salary should be paid to him/her.
Curriculum must be utilitarian and practical
Curriculum has to cover the needs of the society. Preliminary knowledge about agriculture and health should be included in the curriculum. There should be a differentiation between the curriculum of rural and urban schools. Values that stand the test of time, such as freedom, equality, fraternity, kindness, self-respect, devotion to one’s nation, and internationalism, should be developed through education.
Professional ability and capabilities through education
Education should be able to develop professional ability and capabilities so that knowledge may be properly linked. The downward filtration theory advocated by Lord Macaulay is not philosophically sound as it ignores the common masses. Practical knowledge is superior to bookish knowledge. Hence primary knowledge in Modi (a special Marathi script) accounts, history, grammar, agriculture ethics and health should be imparted. Though quantitative growth in primary schools is important, it should not be at the cost of qualitative growth. The government must formulate the scheme of scholarships and rewards for deserving students and those in need of support.
Jyotiba Phule’s Bold efforts to educate women
Phule’s bold efforts to educate women, Shudras and the untouchables had a strong effect on the values, beliefs, and ideologies relating to the movement for social justice through education. His efforts unleashed the forces of awakening among the common masses. Education made women more knowledgeable. They became conscious of the differences between the right and the wrong and could analyse these differences with a scientific approach. They began to question the age-old customs which degraded them. Similarly, Shudras started claiming equality with upper castes in all areas of 7 life. In short, Jyotiba Phule launched a movement for liberating women and Shudras from the control of vested interests and laid the foundation for a Backward Class Movement in India.
The relevance of Jyotiba’s Educational Philosophy Today
In today’s educational scenario, Phule’s thoughts on education is very relevant. As we know, today education has been mostly reduced to information transmission. There is always a fear of examination because of bookish education. But for Phule knowledge was not just information. It involves questioning, understanding critiquing and interpreting knowledge. As early as in the 19th century Phule had given alternative education models.
For him, ‘Education is the power to think, the power to act well in the world’s work, and the power to appreciate life.’ For Phule knowledge matters because it can question, change and transform the individual and society. Education can empower and make society more democratic. It can help in reconstructing, rethinking and in interpreting tradition. This thought of Phule is extremely relevant in the paradoxical context of caste in contemporary India- where despite constitutional provisions, caste discrimination is widespread.
Jyotiba Phule was the first Indian educationist whose pragmatic views on education were honoured by the British rulers in India. He was a practical man with a good philosophical background. The Indian educationists of that period and after were deeply impressed by the richness and originality of Phule’s thoughts.
His educational ideas and principles, especially in women’s education and universal, free, and compulsory primary education, are most relevant in modern Indian society as elsewhere. It is not an exaggeration to say that the history of women’s education in India would be incomplete without mentioning the contribution of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule. He is truly called Mahatma.