Bihar to breathe life into Buniyadi Vidyalayas or Gandhian schools

Bihar has begun a move to revive 391 Buniyadi Vidyalayas (also known as basic schools) that were built in accordance with Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of providing elementary holistic education to every child.

The schools were meant to provide education that connected seamlessly with lives of children. Training in spinning, carpentry, farming and weaving was also part of the pedagogy in these schools. Here, teachers were also expected to have skills in different crafts.

“After the central government approved 122 model schools, the state government has decided to run them in the basic schools set up on Gandhian principles,” Biihar Education Minister P.K. Shahi told IANS.

Shahi said decades of neglect had caused the standard of the basic schools to drop.

He hoped that setting up of model schools within basic schools would revive Gandhi’s dream education system. Gandhi aimed at the creation of small, self-reliant communities through training children in qualities of heart, head and hand. He wanted to bridge the separation between education and work. The first Buniyadi Vidyalaya was set up by Gandhi in 1939 in Brindavan in Bihar’s West Champaran district.

Amarjeet Sinha, principal secretary, education department, said the government would revive the schools in earnest.

District officials in Champaran district said the ‘Mahatma ke school’ (schools of the Mahatma), as known locally, have been struggling for survival. No effort was made by the union government either to keep the institution alive.

A few years ago, the Supreme Court took serious note of the plight of basic schools in West Champaran.

The court then issued a notice to the union government, the state government, West Champaran district administration and National Human Rights Commission to ensure proper functioning of the schools and preserve Gandhian heritage.

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