British Education Policy in India

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British Education Policy in India

This article on British education policies in India discusses about the Charter Act, Macaulay minutes, Magna Carta and Hunter Commission.

Charter Act of 1813 A.D.

Warren Hastings formed ‘The Calcutta Madrasa’ with the request of the Muslims in 1781. Sir William Jones founded the Asiatic Society in 1784. Orientalists like Farsi Scholar William Wilkins, Horace Hayman Wilson, Nathaniel Halhed, etc. were with him.

Charles Wilkins invested the Bengali type in 1778. With this, the first Bengali grammar was published by Halhed. Jonathan Duncan founded ‘Benares Sanskrit College’ in 1792.

Lord Wellesley founded the Fort William College in 1800 for making the Company employees aware of Indian language for the sake of administration.

The East India Company agreed to spend Rs. 1 lac towards the improvement of education in India by virtue of ‘Charter Act’ passed in 1813.

‘General Committee of Public Instructions’ (GCPI) was formed in 1824. In the meantime ‘Sanskrit College’ of Calcutta was founded by Lord Amherst in 1824 for oriental education in Calcutta. Rammohan resisted this system.

Macaulay minutes

Lord William Bentinck was a believer of ‘Filtration Theory’ of education. He used to believe that education would be filtered from upper class to lower class and as a consequence the education cost would be minimized and at the same time, the western education would be spread.

Bentink introduced the policy of expansion of western education in India with the recommendations of ‘Macaulay minutes’ executed on 2nd February 1838.

After that Bentinck founded The Calcutta Medical College (1835) and the Elphinstone Institution of Bombay (1835).

Lord Harding declared in 1844 that the English knowing Indians would get Government jobs, which encouraged Indians towards English education.

Wood’s Despatch

Sir Charles Wood, the president of ‘Board of Control’ of England recommended to combine the streams of both the lowest and the highest form of education in 1854. This is known as ‘Wood’s Despatch’. This despatch is called as ‘Magna Carta’ in the history of English education in India. Its recommendations were:

  1. To form a separate education department,
  2. To establish three universities in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras presidencies,
  3. To take adequate measures for the teachers and the teaching,
  4. To reform the government schools and colleges,
  5. To establish new middle schools,
  6. To start grants-in-aid in private schools,
  7. To improve the native primary schools,
  8. To expand women education, mass education, progress in vernacular language and to set up of teachers’ training,
  9. To increase the number of government schools arranged for inspection and to initiate secular education system, etc.

Wood rejected the filtration policy. According to Wood’s Despatch, three Universities were founded in Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras (now Chennai).

Director of Public Instructions (DPI) was formed in 1855. There were 79 English schools and 140 aided government native schools under this organization.

Charles Wood first played a very positive role in the expansion of higher education in India. Under that recommendation ‘Calcutta University’ was founded in 1857. Later Lahore (1882) and Allahabad (1887) universities were founded.

Hunter Commission

The Hunter Commission was formed in 1882 under the leadership of Sir William Hunter during the period of Lord Ripon. The following were mentioned in the report of that commission in 1884:

  • Schools and colleges will be subsidized by the Governments.
  • All Government restrictions will be lifted from schools and colleges.
  • The responsibility of primary education will be entrusted with municipality and the district boards.
  • Special attention will be given to higher education.

In 1902, Lord Curzon formed the Raleigh Commission under the leadership of Sir Thomas Raleigh. This was also known as ‘Indian University Commission’. Sir Gurudas Banerjee and Sued Hussain Bilgrami, the two Indians were the members of this commission. The University Act was passed in 1904 A.D. A commission was formed in 1917 A.D. under the guidance of Sir Michael Sadler. This is also known as the ‘Calcutta University Commission’.

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