An intervention into the debates on work-in-education’ and skill development in India

Azim Premji University,


The paper analyses the debates surrounding work’ as part, or as an outcome, of school education in India and argues that these have not reckoned adequately the socioeconomic reality of the corresponding times. The outcome of education depends on ideas and resources shaping its provisioning, and the use by the people. Colonial rulers provided a liberal schooling which did not aim at schooling for all’ or imparting skills as part of schooling. Such an education was attractive to those children who were not working in agriculture or artisanal occupations for their livelihood or who belonged to a rentier’ class. The lower opportunity cost of time for these children and the probability of getting a job in the colonial administration enabled this small section of society to opt for such a liberal schooling. It is in this context that Gandhi wanted to use work (or agricultural and artisanal skills) as a pedagogical tool for education. However, the majority of children who were bound to do such work then did not view formal schooling, which aimed at imparting these skills’, attractive.