Modern education began in India during British rule. In ancient and medieval India, the ‘Gurukula’ method of instruction was widely used. Students and the teacher, or ‘guru,’ shared a home in this system. India, on the other hand, was known for numerous global universities at the time, including Nalanda.
As a result of the colonial conquest, India’s educational system was disrupted. For the first sixty years or so, the British paid no attention to improving the country’s educational system. As their domain grew and they began to control revenue and administration, it became necessary to educate the Indians in English in order to obtain manpower.
Later, the British embarked on a quest to destroy the country’s traditional gurukulam system, sowing the seeds of the country’s cultural and linguistic upheaval.
Education System in India during British Rule – History
The History of Education in British India can be classified into two – before 1857 (under the English East India Company) and after 1857 (under the British Crown).
Education in India under the English East India Company
- Warren Hastings, the Governor-General of Bengal, created Calcutta Madarasa for Islamic law studies in 1781. It was the first educational institution established by the East India Company (EIC).
- William Jones created the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784 to better comprehend and study India’s history and culture. During this time, Charles Wilkins was working on a translation of the Bhagwat Gita into English.
- Jonathan Duncan, a Benares citizen, created the Sanskrit college in 1791 to study Hindu laws and philosophy.
- In the year 1800, Governor-General Richard Wellesley founded Fort William College in Calcutta to educate EIC public servants in Indian languages and customs. However, due to the British administration’s displeasure of Indianizing English civil personnel, the college was closed in 1802.
THE CHARTER ACT OF 1813
The British took the country’s first notable move toward modern education with this initiative. This act set aside a sum of Rs.1 lakh every year for the education of Indian subjects. At the period, Christian missionaries were involved in mass education, but their focus was on religious teachings and conversions.
MACAULEY’S MINUTES / THE ENGLISH EDUCATION ACT OF 1835
We must keep in mind that Thomas Macauley had little knowledge of or appreciation for Indian and Orient literature, and he felt western science was greater to all others. “A single shelf of a fine European library is worth the entire native literature of India and Arabia,” he famously declared.
The main point is:
- Government finances should be dedicated completely to the teaching of western sciences and English literature.
- In schools and institutions, English should be the dominant language of instruction.
- Instead of emphasizing the value of elementary schools, more district-level schools and universities were suggested. As a result, mass education has been ignored.
- The British decided to educate a chosen number of upper and middle-class Indians who would act as a conduit between the people and the government.
WOOD’S DESPATCH OF 1854
In 1854, Charles Wood wrote a despatch on an educational system for India. This document, termed the “Magna Carta of English Education in India,” was the country’s first comprehensive education plan. Charles Wood was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1846 to 1852. He was afterwards nominated to the East India Company’s Board of Control as President. In 1854, he sent Governor-General Lord Dalhousie the “Wood’s despatch.”
The President of the Board of Control, Sir Charles Wood, was a driving force behind the growth of English learning and female education in India. He sent a message to Lord Dalhousie, India’s then-Governor-General, in 1854.
Primary schools should utilize vernacular languages, high schools should use Anglo-vernacular languages, and college students should use English as their medium of teaching, according to Woods. The Despatch begins by describing the Company’s educational policy in India, including its goals and objectives.
It put the obligation for Indian education ahead of all other commercial responsibilities.
- To educate Indians about Western culture and to offer them with Western knowledge.
- In order to build a class of public servants, Indian indigenous must be educated.
- To promote academic growth while also enhancing the moral character of future generations.
- Improve Indians’ practical and vocational abilities so that more and more things can be created, as well as develop a viable market for their consumption.
Education in India under the Royal Crown of British
Various commissions under the British Crown, such as Hunter, Raleigh, and Saddler, made proposals for educational changes in India.
Hunter Education Commission (1882-83)
Viceroy Lord Ripon created the Hunter Education Commission with the objective of investigating concerns regarding the non-implementation of the Wood’s Despatch of 1854, assessing the current state of elementary education in British colonies, and proposing measures to expand and improve it. The commission’s findings, led by Sir William Wilson Hunter, was published in 1882.
- To analyze the state of education in India, with a concentration on basic education, and to give improvement recommendations.
- To assess religious missionaries’ educational efforts.
- Inquire about the implementation of Wood’s Despatch of 1854, as well as the usage of its grants-in-aid, and offer reform proposals.
- To determine whether or not the government should continue to provide education to its citizens.
- The major purpose of the Hunter commission is to look into the situation of primary education in India, but it also opted to look into secondary and higher education.
- It was tasked with researching the state’s position as well as the situation of missionary institutions in general.
RALEIGH COMMISSION – 1902
The Raleigh Commission was established on January 27, 1902, under the president of Sir Thomas Raleigh, to investigate the state and prospects of Indian institutions and to provide recommendations for improving their structure and functioning.
The Commission was apparently barred from reporting on either primary or secondary education. The Indian Universities Act was passed in 1904 as a result of the Commission’s report and recommendations. The Act’s principal goal was to enhance India’s educational situation and elevate the system to a higher level.
- Universities were given the authority to hire their own staff, including teaching staff.
- A university’s number of Fellows was limited at 50 to 100.
- The number of elected Fellows was set at 20 for the universities of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta, and 15 for the rest.
- The Governor-General was now able to determine the territorial bounds of universities as well as affiliation between universities and institutions.
- Despite the fact that the number of colleges decreased once the provisions of the University Act were implemented, the number of students increased significantly.
INDIAN UNIVERSITIES ACT – 1904
On the recommendations of the Raleigh Commission, the British Viceroy, Lord Curzon, passed the Indian Universities Act in 1904, which increased supervision over Indian universities. Curzon was on a mission to suppress India’s rising nationalism. The Hunter Commission’s recommendations for a competent Indian educational system were not implemented. In India, the education system was not implemented in accordance with the Commission’s recommendations. As a result, when Lord Curzon became Governor-General of India, he set out to reform all aspects of government, including education.
- The act’s first clause required that the institutions’ governing bodies be rebuilt, and the Senates’ size be lowered.
- The Senate might currently have between 50 and 100 members. Each of them would have a six-year term in office.
- For the universities of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, the number of elected fellows was fixed at 50, and for the rest of the universities, it was set at 15.
- The government was given the authority to designate a majority of university fellows under this act.
- The Governor-General was now granted the ability to set the territorial borders of universities, as well as their affiliation.
- The Indian Universities Act gave the government complete control over universities and colleges.
- A five-year award of Rs. 5 lakh was also accepted for better education and research.
GOVERNMENT RESOLUTION ON EDUCATION POLICY – 1913
- The government declined to comply with national movement leaders’ demand for compulsory basic education in British India; they did not want the responsibility of popular education.
- However, he announced a future policy to eradicate illiteracy.
- Provincial governments have been tasked with providing free primary education to the poorest and more backward groups.
- Secondary education, as well as private efforts, must be strengthened.
- In each province, one university will be founded.
SADDLER UNIVERSITY COMMISSION – 1917-19
After its chairman Michael Sadler, the Sadler Commission, also known as the Calcutta University Commission, was established in 1917. The purpose of this study is to look into the current state and future possibilities of Calcutta University, as well as to concentrate on the subject of constructive policy in relation to the issue at hand. The commission analyzed and provided recommendations on the major problems of higher education in Bengal. It looked at all aspects of education, from elementary school to university. The Sadler Commission, established in 1917-19, was tasked with assessing the state and prospects of Calcutta University.
- To concentrate on the topic of constructive policy in connection to the issue at hand.
- To free universities of their secondary education responsibilities, allowing them to concentrate only on higher education.
- Female education, applied scientific and technological education, and teacher preparation are all priorities.
From 1916 to 21st century, seven new universities were established in Mysore, Patna, Benares, Aligarh, Dacca, Lucknow, and Osmania.
1920: In the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, education was shifted to provinces, and the Saddler commission recommendations were passed over to the provincial administration. As a result of this, the education sector experienced a financial crisis.
HARTOG COMMITTEE – 1929
- Primary education is provided, although there is no need for a compulsory school system.
- Only deserving kids should be allowed to attend high schools and intermediate schools, with the rest of the pupils being transferred to vocational courses.
- University admissions have been restricted in order to raise standards.
WARDHA SCHEME OF BASIC EDUCATION BY THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS (INC) – 1937
In Wardha, Congress held a national convention on education and formed a committee for basic education under the leadership of Zakir Hussain. The program was based on Gandhiji’s principles expressed in Harijan and focused on “learning by activity.”
- Basic handicrafts should be included in the curriculum.
- The first seven years of school should be free and mandatory.
- Until class 7, Hindi is the medium of instruction, and from class 8 onwards, English is the medium of instruction.
These recommendations were never implemented because the congress ministries withdrew owing to the outset of World War II.
SERGEANT PLAN OF EDUCATION BY THE CENTRAL ADVISORY BOARD OF EDUCATION – 1944
- Primary education is free for children aged 3-6 years.
- Compulsory education for children aged 6 to 11 years.
- A selected group of children aged 11 to 17 are accepted in high school.
- Enhance technical, business, and artistic education.
- Education for teachers, physical education, and the education of mentally and physically challenged individuals are all primary focus.
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