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EDUCATIONAL POLICY AND GROWTH OF MODERN EDUCATION
First Phase (1758-1812)
- The British East India Company showed very little interest in the education of its subjects during this period, the only two minor exceptions being:
- The Calcutta Madrasah set up by Warren Hastings in 1781 for the study and teaching of Muslim law and related subjects, and
- The Sanskrit College at Varanasi by Jonathan Duncan in 1792 for the study of Hindu law and philosophy (both were designed to provide a regular supply of qualified Indians to help the administration of law in the Courts of the Company).
Second Phase (1813-1853)
- Due to the strong pressure exerted on the Company by the Christian missionaries and many humanitarians, including some Indians, to ecnourage and promote modern education in India, the Charter Act of 1813 required the Company to spend rupees one lakh annually for encouraging learned Indians and promoting the knowledge of modern sciences in India.
- Two controversies about the nature of eduction arose during the first part of this phase.They were:
- Whether to lay emphasis on the promotion of modern western studies or on the expansion of traditional Indian learning?
- Whether to adopt Indian languages or English as the medium of instruction in modern schools and colleges to spread western learning?
- These two controversies were settled in 1835 when Lord William Bentinck with the support Rammohan Roy and other reformers, decided to devote the limited resources to the teaching of Western sciences and literature through the medium of English alone.
- In 1844 Lord Hardinge decided to give government employment to Indians educated in English schools. The success of English education was thus assured and it made good progress in the three presidencies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras where a number of schools and colleges were opened between 1813 and 1853.
- Three other deuelopments also took place during this phase. They are:
- A great upsurge in the activites of the missionaries who did pioneer work in almost every field of modern education;
- Establishment of medical, engineering and law colleges, which marked a beginning in professional education; and
- Official sanction accorded to the education of girls (Lord Dalhousie, in fact, offered the open support of government).
- The Government policy of opening a few English schools and colleges instead of a large number of elementary schools led to the neglect of the education of the masses. This was so because the governemnt was not willing to spend more than an insignificant sum on education.
- To cover up this defect in their policy, the British took recourse to the so-called “Downward Filtration Theory” which meant that education and modern ideas were supposed to filter or radiate downwards from the upper classes.
- In other words, the few educated persons from the upper and middle classes were expected to assume the task of educating the masses and spreading modern ideas.
- This policy continued until the very end of the British rule in practical terms, though it was officially (in theory only) abandoned in 1854.
Third Phase (1854-1900)
- The Educational Despatch of 1854, also known as Wood’s Despatch (because it was drafted by Sir Charles Wood, the then President of the Board of Control, who later became the first Secretary of State for India) and generally considered as the “Magna Carta of English Education in India”, formed a landmark in the history of modern education in India.
- For it outlined a comprehensive plan which supplied the basis for the subsequent development of education system in India.
- This despatch rejected the “filtration theory” and laid stress on mass education, female education and improvement of varnaculars, and favoured secularisation of education and a coordinated system of education from the lowest level (primary school) to the highest stage (university).
- The second half of the 19th century witnessed the gradual implementation of the policies laid down by the Despatch of 1854.
- Creation of Education Departments in the provinces of Bombay, Madras, Bengal, North-Western Provinces and Punjab in 1855 and later in the new provinces which were formed at a later date; organisation of the Indian Education Service in 1897 to cover the senior-most posts.
- Establishment of the Universities of Calcutta (January 1857), Bombay (July 1857), Madras (September 1857), Punjab (1882) and Allahabad (1887).
- The Indian Education Commission of 1882, generally known as a Hunter Commission (Sir W.W. Hunter was its president) was appointed by Lord Ripon to enquire into the manner in which effect had been given to the principles of the Despatch of 1854 and to make the necessary recommendations with regard to the primary education (which was the chief object of its inquiry), the Commission recommended that the newly founded local bodies (district boards and muncipalities) should be entrusted with the management of primary schools.
- And with regard to the private enterprise, it recommended that the Government should maintain only a few colleges, secondary schools and other essential institutions, and the rest of the field should be left to private enterprise.
- These recommendations, along with others, of the Commission were accepted by the governemnt and implemented.
Fourth Phase (1901-1920)
- Lord Curzon convened the first conference of Directors of Public Intituation in 1901 and initiated an era of educational reform based on its decisions.
- He appointed a Universities Commission under Thomas Raleigh (Law Member of the Vicerory’s Executive Council) in 1902, and based on its recommendations Indian Universities Act of 1904 was passed.
- The Act enabled the universities to assume teaching functions (hitherto they were mainly examining bodies), constituted syndicates for the speedier transaction of business, provided for strict conditions of affiliation and periodic inspection of the different institutions.
- All these provisions led to a substantial measure of qualitative improvement in higher education, though the Act was severly criticised by the nationalist Indians for its tightening governmental control over universities.
- In 1910 a separate Department of Education was established at the Centre, and in 1913 the Government of India Resolution on Edcation Policy called for the opening of residential universities, and wanted to improve the training of teachers for primary and secondary schools.
- The Sadler Commission (19171919) was appointed by Lord Chelmsford to review the working of the Calcutta University. Its main recommendations were:
- Secondary education should be left to the control of a Board of Secondary Education and the duration of the degree course should be 3 years, etc.
- By 1921 the number of Universities in India increased to 12, the seven new ones being Banaras, Mysore Patna, Aligarh, Dacca, Lucknow and Osmania.
- Similar growth could be seen at the secondary and primary levels of education, though this growth rate was hardly sufficient for the purpose of mass education.
- It was also during this phase that the concept of national education was coined for the first time by leaders like Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, Annine Besant, etc. According to them, the existing system of education was unhelpful and even antagonistic to national development, and hence a new system capable of fostering love of the motherland should be evolved.
- Accordingly, a number of national institutions, such as Kasi Vidyapith and Jamia Millia Islamia, were established, and they worked independently of the official system.
Fifth Phase (1921-1947)
- During this phase, education for the first time officially came under Indian control in the sense that it became, under the provisions of the Montford Act of 1919 (and the resultant Diarchical provincial governments), a provincial transferred subject administered by a minister responsible to the provincial legislature. As a result, there was unprecedented expansion at all levels of education.
- Increase in the number of Universities (20 in 1947); improvement in the quality of higher level education due to the introduction of reforms based largely on the recommendations of the Sadler Commission; establishment of an Inter-University Board (1924) and beginning of inter-collegiate and inter-university activities.
- Significant achievements in the field of women’s education and the education of the backward classes due to the liberal concessions given to them by the popular ministries.