Development of Education

v  Under Company Rule

§  For the first 60 years of its dominion in India, the East India Company was only a trading and profit-making concern and was not interest in the promotion of education.

§  Some minor exceptions were efforts by individuals: —

? The Calcutta Madrasah was established by Warren Hastings in 1781 for the study of Muslim law and related subjects.

? The Sanskrit College was established by Jonathan Duncan, the resident, at Benaras in 1791 for study of Hindu law and philosophy.

? Fort William College was set up by Wellesley in 1800 for training of civil servants of the Company in languages and customs of Indians (closed in 1802).

  • Ø  A Humble beginning by Charter Act of 1813

§  The Charter Act of 1813 incorporated the principle of encouraging learned Indians and promoting knowledge of modern sciences in the country.

§  The Act directed the Company to sanction one lakh rupees annually for this purpose.

o   The government also set up three Sanskrit colleges at Calcutta, Delhi and Agra.

  • Ø  Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy

§  Within the General Committee on Public Instruction, the Anglicists argued that the government spending on education should be exclusively for modern studies.

§  The Orientalists said while Western sciences and literature should be taught to prepare students to take up jobs, emphasis should be placed on expansion of traditional Indian learning.

§  The Anglicists were divided over the question of medium of instruction—one faction was for English language as the medium, while the other faction was for Indian languages (vernaculars) for the purpose.

  • Ø  Lord Macaulay’s Minute (1835)

§  Lord Macaulay’s Minute settled the row in favour of Anglicists—the limited government resources were to be devoted to teaching of Western sciences and literature through the medium of English language alone.

§  The British planned to adopt the ‘downward filtration theory’.

o   To educate a small section of upper and middle classes, thus creating a class “Indian in blood and colour but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect” who would act as interpreters between the government and masses.

  • Ø  Efforts of Thomson

§  James Thomson, lieutenant-governor of NW Provinces (1843-53), developed a comprehensive scheme of village education through the medium of vernacular languages.

§  mensuration and agriculture sciences were taught in these schools.

§  The purpose was to train personnel for the newly set up Revenue and Public Works Department.

  • Ø  Wood’s Despatch (1854)

§  In 1854, Charles Wood prepared a despatch on an educational system for India. Considered the “Magna Carta of English Education in India”.

§  This document was the first comprehensive plan for the spread of education in India.

1.      It asked the government of India to assume responsibility for education of the masses.

2.     It systematised the hierarchy from vernacular primary schools in villages at bottom, followed by Anglo-Vernacular High Schools and an affiliated college at the district level, and affiliating universities in the presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.

3.     It recommended English as the medium of instruction for higher studies and vernaculars at school level.

4.     It laid stress on female and vocational education, and on teachers’ training.

5.     It laid down that the education imparted in government institutions should be secular.

6.     It recommended a system of grants-in-aid to encourage private enterprise.


§  In 1857, universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were set up.

§  The Bethune School founded by J.E.D. Bethune at Calcutta (1849) was the first fruit of a powerful movement for education of women which arose in 1840s and 1850s.

o   Bethune was the president of the Council of Education.

§  An Agriculture Institute at Pusa (Bihar) and an Engineering Institute at Roorkee were started.

  • v  After the Crown Took Over
  • Ø  Hunter Education Commission (1882-83)

§  In 1882, the Government appointed a commission under the chairmanship of W.W. Hunter to review the progress of education in the country since the Despatch of 1854.

§  The Hunter Commission mostly confined its recommendations to primary and secondary education. The commission—

(i)             Emphasised that state’s special care is required for extension and improvement of primary education.

(ii)            recommended transfer of control of primary education to newly set up district and municipal boards.

(iii)           Recommended that secondary (High School) education should have two divisions—

? literary—leading up to university.

? vocational—for commercial careers.

(iv)           Drew attention to inadequate facilities for female education, especially outside presidency towns and made recommendations for its spread.

§  More teaching-cum-examining universities were set up like the Punjab University (1882) and the Allahabad University (1887).

  • Ø  Indian Universities Act, 1904

§  In 1902, Raleigh Commission was set up to go into conditions and prospects of universities in India and to suggest measures for improvement in their constitution and working.

§  Based on its recommendations, the Indian Universities Act was passed in 1904. As per the Act,

(i)             Universities were to give more attention to study and research.

(ii)            The number of fellows of a university and their period in office were reduced.

(iii)           Government was to have powers to veto universities’ senate regulations and could amend these regulations or pass regulations on its own;

(iv)           Conditions were to be made stricter for affiliation of private colleges;

(v)            Five lakh rupees were to be sanctioned per annum for five years for improvement of higher education and universities.

§  Gokhale called it a “retrograde measure”.

  • Ø  Government Resolution on Education Policy—1913

§  In its 1913 Resolution on Education Policy, the government refused to take up the responsibility of compulsory education, but accepted the policy of removal of illiteracy and urged provincial governments to take early steps to provide free elementary education to the poorer and more backward sections.

  • Ø  Sadler University Commission (1917-19)

§  In 1917, the Government of India appointed the Calcutta University Commission, commonly called the Sadler Commission after its chairman, Michael Sadler.

§  The commission was set up to study and report on problems of Calcutta University.

§  Its observations were as follows: -

1.      School course should cover 12 years. Students should enter university after an intermediate stage for a three-year degree course in university.

2.     A separate board of secondary and intermediate education should be set up for administration and control of secondary and intermediate education.

3.     A university should function as centralised, unitary residential-teaching autonomous body, rather than as scattered, affiliated colleges.

4.     Female education, applied scientific and technological education, teachers’ training including those for professional and vocational colleges should be extended.

§  In 1920, the Government recommended Saddler report to the provincial governments.

  • Ø  Education Under Dyarchy

§  Under Montagu-Chelmsford reforms education was shifted to provincial ministries and the government stopped taking direct interest in educational matters.

§  Government grants, liberally sanctioned since 1902, were now stopped.

  • Ø  Hartog Committee (1929)

§  The Hartog Committee was set up to report on development of education. Its main recommendations were as follows.

1.      Emphasis should be given to primary education but there need be no hasty expansion or compulsion in education.

2.     Only deserving students should go in for high school and intermediate stage, while average students should be diverted to vocational courses after VIII standard.

3.     For improvements in standards of university education, admissions should be restricted.

  • Ø  Sergeant Plan of Education

§  The Sergeant Plan (Sergeant was the educational advisor to the Government) was worked out by the Central Advisory Board of Education in 1944. It recommended—

1.      pre-primary education for 3-6 years age group; free, universal and compulsory elementary education for 6-11 years age group.

2.     adequate technical, commercial and arts education.

3.     Abolition of intermediate course.

4.     Liquidation of adult illiteracy in 20 years.

5.     Stress on teachers’ training, physical education, education for the physically and mentally handicapped.

§ The objective was to create within 40 years, the same level of educational attainment as prevailed in England.

Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937)

·       The Congress had organised a National Conference on Education in October 1937 in Wardha.

·       The Zakir Hussain committee formulated a detailed national scheme for basic education. The main principle behind this scheme was ‘learning through activity’.

·       It was based on Gandhi’s ideas published in a series of articles in the weekly Harijan.

·       The scheme had the following provisions: -

1.     Inclusion of a basic handicraft in the syllabus.

2.     First seven years of schooling to be an integral part of a free and compulsory nationwide education system (through mother tongue).

3.     Teaching to be in Hindi from class II to VII and in English only after class VIII.

4.     Ways to be devised to establish contact with the community around schools through service.

5.     A suitable technique to be devised with a view to implementing the main idea of basic education—educating the child through the medium of productive activity of a suitable handicraft.

Ø  Development of Vernacular Education

§  During the early 19th century vernacular education was in a sorry state of affairs.

1835, 1836, 1838 : William Adam’s reports on vernacular education in Bengal and Bihar pointed out defects in the system of vernacular education.

1843-53  : James Jonathan’s experiments in North- West Provinces (UP), as the lieutenant-governor there, included opening one government school as model school in each tehsildari and a normal school for teachers’ training for vernacular schools.

1853 : In a famous minute, Lord Dalhousie expressed strong opinion in favour of vernacular education.

1854 : Wood’s Despatch made the following provisions for vernacular education:

1. Improvement of standards

2. Supervision by government agency

3. Normal schools to train teachers

1854-71  : The government paid some attention to secondary and vernacular education. The number of vernacular schools increased by more than five-fold.

1882 : The Hunter Commission held that State should make special efforts for extension and improvement of vernacular education. Mass education was to be seen as instructing masses through vernaculars.

1904 : Education policy put special emphasis on vernacular education and increased grants for it.

1929 : Hartog Committee presented a gloomy picture of primary education.

1937 : These schools received encouragement from Congress ministries.

  • v  Development of Technical Education

§  The Engineering College at Roorkee was set up in 1847.

§  The Calcutta College of Engineering came up in 1856.

§  In 1858, Overseers’ School at Poona was raised to the status of Poona College of Engineering and affiliated to Bombay University.

§  Guindy College of Engineering was affiliated to Madras University.

§  Medical training started with establishment of a medical college in Calcutta in 1835.

  • v  Evaluation of British Policy on Education in India

The British Indian government took inadequate steps for the development of education in India. Even these measures of the British Indian government was not based on the philanthropic concerns for the betterment of Indians. All the decisions for the expansion of modern education were based on the following concerns of the British Indian government.

§  The demand for the promotion of modern education by educated Indians, Christian missionaries, and the humanitarian officials.

§  The British required the cheap supply of educated manpower in India. This was for the subordinate posts in the administration of Government.

§  The promotion of English language in India was guided by the British interests, as the Britishers felt that education among Indians would help them to promote their market for the British goods.

§  The Western education glorified the image of British, which was thought to help the British to consolidate and strengthen their rule in India.

§  The British Education policies were responsible for the decline of the traditional system of Indian learning. The British made knowledge of English compulsory for government employment in 1844. This further increased the rate of decline of the traditional system of Indian learning.

§  The British neglected mass education which created a cultural and linguistic divide between the common people and the educated few. The British policies made education inaccessible for the poor sections of the society and it became the monopoly of richer classes and the urban population.

§  The British policies did not put much emphasis on women education as the Britishers did not want to create opposition from the orthodox sections of the society. Also, the women education did not had any immediate use for the British rule in India.

§  The British neglected the technical and scientific education which was responsible for the technical and industrial backwardness of India. By 1857, the Britishers had established only three medical colleges in the provinces of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. Roorkee was the only one Engineering College of good quality in India till 1857. This engineering college was not open for Indians and was only open for the Europeans and Eurasians.

In overall, the British policies were responsible for the underdevelopment of education system in India during the British period.

To Download the Complete PDF CLICK HERE