The education that man needs is only to make him fit to live his life in freedom. To spread education to the masses is as difficult an effort as spreading communism in our country of India.
The people of a land should first of all be educated if they are to seek progress, to lead a good and cultured life and to gain a proper understanding in the spheres of politics, economics and industry.
Only education, self-respect and rational qualities will uplift the down-trodden.
Teachers should first teach the students what self-respect is; and what courage, dignity and equality are. Students should be taught to love people.
It is as dangerous for people to support scriptural scholars (pundits) as using a burning stick to scratch an itching scalp; they have no alternative means of livelihood; and therefore we should be ever watchful in our contact with these pundits.
If teachers are to be useful, they should be capable of free thinking to some extent at least, and also have some degree of respect for reason.
Teachers, parents, officers-all should try to foster good conduct, discipline, fairness and honesty among students.
Great teachers, instead of converting young men into men of religion, should try hard to make them men of knowledge.
Why should anyone, in the name of caste, be considered lowly or be made to do a mean job? If all in the country are given education, can there exist a caste for doing mean work? Is it not because of lack of education that those people are constrained to do contemptible work and are considered lowly?
Just as it is fair to provide the necessities of food, clothes and shelter to those who are without these, so it is fair to provide education to those who do not have it.
It is not temples that we need today, but schools. Knowledge can bring about many miracles. Therefore, we do need today schools that will be the basis for imparting knowledge.
Schools, promote literacy and knowledge in a particular field. But the library fosters awareness of general knowledge in all spheres.
Schools and institutions of higher learning will enlarge knowledge only to a certain extent whoever administers them, they are subject to rules and regulations.
The benefit of learning cannot be fully derived from these kinds of institutions. Only libraries can compensate for this drawback.
In fine, libraries are indeed a University.
It is essential that education in our country should have two cardinal aims. Firstly, education should foster rationality and feelings of self respect. Secondly it should be conducive to a better life through a job or trade.
What is education for? For knowledge. And what is knowledge for? To enable man to live humanely, so that he lives to serve his fellowmen, in honour and without causing hardship to others.
Care should be taken first of all in inculcating discipline among pupils at school. That alone is important. Next only is education. How to conduct oneself properly is what should be taught first. Good conduct alone makes one a cultured man in later life.
If I were the country’s administrator, I would exact heavy taxes in order to develop it on the right lines. The poor spend whatever is given to them. So, instead of giving them money, their children can be educated out of tax revenue.
Care should be taken to see that books alluding to bad conduct, superstition and social ills do not enter schools or politics.
Edit the poems of Bharathidasan, and prescribe them as texts, as suited to each class at school. Knowledge that can normally be gained in five years can be had in a year, by reading them.
Many think that only seeing God and seeking salvation is enlightenment or knowledge. As this thought is fed from childhood, the student remains ever confused.
The great traits students should follow are: proper conduct, honesty, fairness, doing good to others and not being a hindrance to others. These are for us higher than God.
Discipline alone is very important to children. Fostering it is our paramount duty.
Boys and girls at school should not think it a privilege to wear fashionable attire or costly jewellery, but should wear only simple clothes. At seats of learing where all pupils mix, there should be no discriminations.
Students should not waste their school-life, as it is very, very precious. Their mind should not be distracted by any event outside. Particularly, students should not participate in agitations.
Boys and girls ruin their lives by buying and reading obscene books. They should buy and read books of profound thought and knowledge and imbibe the spirit of inquiry.
First of all, students should be obedient to teachers. Next they should learn discipline. Next only come the lessons at school.
Source: ‘Collected Works of Periyar EVR’, published by the Periyar Self Respect Propaganda Institution, Vepery, Chennai – 7,
Tamil Nadu, India