In 1937, when the provincial governments were formed in seven provinces with the native representation, they concentrated their attention on educational reforms.
In October 1937, an all-India National Educational Conference was held at Wardha and the conference resolved to accept the proposal made by Mahatma Gandhi that free and compulsory education be provided for seven years through mother tongue on a nation-wide scale and the process of education throughout this period should centre around some form of manual and productive work.
All other abilities to be developed or training to be given should, as far as possible, be integrally related to the central handicraft chosen with due regard to the environment of the child.
The conference expected that this system of education will be self sufficient and gradually, will be able to cover the remuneration of teachers.
Accordingly, a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Zakir Hussain was appointed. The Committee prepared and submitted the first comprehensive national education scheme in its report on December 2, 1937, which was popularly known as the Wardha Scheme or Basic Education
The main features of the scheme are as follows:
- The entire education is to be imparted through some industry or vocation with a basic craft as the center of instruction. The idea is not to teach some handicraft along with liberal education, but education integrated with a handicraft is to be imparted through samavaaya (Samavay) integration method. It’s a work-centric education.
- Education is to be self-supporting to the extent of covering teachers’ salaries and aims at making pupils self-supporting after the completion of their course;
- Every individual should learn to earn his living through manual work in life. Hence, education through manual labour is insisted. It is also considered non-violent, since an individual does not snatch away the living of others.
- Learning is closely coordinated with home, community and the child’s life activities, as well as, village crafts and occupations. This philosophy had a strong impact on formulation of the educational policies, particularly at the elementary stage and for free primary education to find place in the constitution of free India.