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2015 - 2016







I hereby declare that the project work entitled “Growth and development of education in India during
British rule” submitted to Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, is a record of an original
work done by me under the guidance of Mrs.Vandana Singh, assistant professor at Dr. RMLNLU.
The results embodied in the project have not been submitted to any other university or institute or in
any kind of seminar. The project is original and has been carried out with the help of certain cases as
well whose citations have been mentioned too.


 INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………..4
 CHARLES WOOD’S DESPATCH, 1854…………………………………6 – 7
 THE INDIAN UNIVERSITIES ACT, 1904………………………………8 - 9
 EDUCATION UNDER DYARCHY, 1921 – 37…………………………..10
 THE HARTOG COMMITTEE, 1929………………………………………10 - 11
 SARGEANT PLAN OF EDUCATION…………………………………..11 - 12
 MERITS OF WESTERN EDUCATION………………………………….12 - 13
 CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………..14
 BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………..15

Before the British Rule, Education was imparted through a chain of elementary schools – Pathshalas,
Maktabs and Madrasas for higher education. The education provided in such institutions were based
on old texts like Vedas and their commentaries. Such education was not considered to be up to date
because Vedas, the basis of such education did not kept pace with the world. The East India Company
became a ruling power in Bengal in1765. Following the example of contemporary English
Government, the court of Directors refused to take on itself the responsibility for the education of the
population of India and decided to leave education to private effort. However, the Indian officers of
the East India Company urged the Court of Directors to do something for the promotion of learning.
Warren Hastings, himself an intellectual, set up the Calcutta Madrasa in 1781 for the study and
learning of Persian and Arabic. In 1971the efforts of Jonathan Duncan, the British resident at
Benaras, bore fruit and a Sanskrit College was opened at Benaras for ‘the cultivation of the laws,
literature and religion of the Hindus’. These early attempts for the education of the people in oriental
language met with little success. The Christian Missionaries attempt to revive an out-of – date system
of education and advocated the teachings of Western literature and Christian religion through the
medium of English. There was a great debate among Indians and the British, known as ‘Orientalists’
and ‘Anglicists’ about the type of education needed by the Indians. For nearly more than half a
century, the British followed a policy of neutrality or non-intervention in the matters of religion and
culture of the indigenous people. But due to constant pressure from different sections – the Christian
missionaries, the liberals, the utilitarians, and the Anglicists – the British yielded and agreed to take
up the responsibility of promoting Western education. There is also a view that the educational policy
was designed to legitimize the domination of the British colonial needs.1 The Court of Directors made
a humble beginning towards the development of education in India in 1813 when the Charter
Act(1813) provided for an annual expenditure of one lakh of rupees “for the revival and promotion of
literature and the encouragement of learned natives of India, and for the introduction and promotion
of knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants of the British territories.”

http:// WesternEducationDuringBritishRule.htm .

British colonial ruler did not show any interest in education. The Christian Missionaries were the first
to come forward. The Baptist Missionary William Carey came to India in the year 1793 A.D. He
along with his friends established Baptist Mission in Serampore (1800 A.D.). By their enthusiasm
many primary schools came up in nearly places. They established a printing press and stilled printing
booklets in Bengali. Carry translated the Ramayana in English (1800 A.D.) By his inspiration the
Bible was translated in different Indian languages and Halhead’s Bengali Grammar’s new edition was
published. By their zeal an English school was established in Serampore in 1818 A.D. That is now
known as Serampore College.2The main factor which tipped the scale in favour of English language
and Western literature was the economic factor- Indian wanted the system of education which could
help them to earn their livelihood. Christian Missionaries wanted to promote Western Education in
India because they thought that modern education would destroy the faith of the Indians for the own
religions and they would follow Christianity. Charles Grant is considered as the father of modern
education in India . He is known so because of his efforts that the Charter Act of 1813 came into
existence. This acts promotes the modern education in India as it sanctions about one lakh rupees for
education. Charter Act of 1813 .This act was the first step taken by British rulers for the purpose of
educational development in India. Under this act, one lakh rupees were sanctioned to promote
education in India. However, this act had failed.

Failure of Charter Act of 1813 The Charter Act had failed because of following reasons: It failed
to state the language for medium of instruction for educational institutes. It was also ambiguous
about the means of expanding English education in India. It was not stated that education should be
given to all or a selected few.


A general committee of public instruction was set up in 1823 to look after the development of
education in India. This committee consisted of ten members. Within the committee there were two
groups, the Orientalist led by H.T. Prinsep who advocated the policy of giving encouragement to
Oriental literature and the Anglicist of the English Party which favoured the adoption of English as a
medium of instruction. The equal division of parties in the committee made it extremely difficult for
it to function effectivey. Ultimately both the parties in the committee submitted their dispute to the
Governor- General – in – council for orders. As a member of the executive council, Macaulay wrote
his famous Minute on educational policy dated 2 February 1835and placed it before the Council
Macaulay favoured the viewpoint of the Anglicist Party. He wrote that “whoever knows that language
has ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth which all the wisest nations of the earth have
created and handed in the course of ninety generations…In India , English is the language spoken by
the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of natives at the seats of Government.”3 Possibly,

http://Education System in India during British Period.htm
Modern Indian History, B.L. Grover and S.Grover,S.Chand, pg 258.

Macaulay aimed to create a class of persons who should be” , Indian in blood and colour, but English
in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”4 In other words , he sought the production of brown
Englishmen” to fill the lower cadres in the Company’s administration. Under this system, the printing
of English books was made free and these were widely available in markets at very low prices. This
increased use of English in India. Macaulay’s system of education – For the implementation of this
system in India following steps were taken by the government: Forty two schools were set up by
1842. The presidencies were divided into educational zones. Each educational zone had one
government school. For example: Bengal was divided into nine educational zones under Lord

The Government of Lord William Bentick in the resolution of 7 March 1835 accepted the viewpoint
of Macaulay that, in future, the object of the company’s Government should be the promotion of
European literature and sciences, through the medium of English language and in future all funds
were to be spent for that purpose.

William Bentinck announced in 1835 that English replaced Persian as the court language, books in
English were made available at low prices and more funds were allotted to support the English
education, and fund for the support of oriental learning was curtailed. Lord Auckland, who succeeded
Bentnick as the Governor General also continued encouragement for the promotion of English
learning by opening English colleges in Dacca, Patna, Benaras, Allahabad, Agra, Delhi and Barielly.

In 1841, the General Committee of Public Instruction was abolished and in its place a council of
education was established. Another landmark in the development of Western education was Wood’s
Despatch of 1854.


In 1854 Wood prepared his comprehensive dispatch on the scheme of future education in India. The
dispatch came to be considered as the Magna Carta of English education in India. The scheme
envisaged a co – ordinated system of education on an all – India basis. The main provisions are:

(1) It declared that the aim of Government’s educational policy was the teaching of Western
education.“ The education which we desire to see extended in India” wrote Wood in the dispatch, “
is that which has for its object the diffusion of the improved arts, science, philosophy and literature
of Europe, in short of European knowledge”.
(2) As to the medium of instruction, it declared that for higher education English language was
the most perfect medium of education.

Mukherjee, S.N. : History of education in India, 1957

(3) A system of grants-in-aid was recommended for the institutions that satisfied certain
conditions to encourage private enterprise.
(4) The dispatch emphasized the importance of vocational instruction and the need for
establishing technical schools and colleges.
(5) Universities on the model of the London University were proposed for Calcutta, Bombay and
Madras. The constitution of the university provided for a Senate, a Chancellor, a Vice Chancellor and
Fellows – all to be nominated by the Government. The universities were to hold examinations and
confer degrees. A university might set up professorships in various branches of learning.

The Department of Public Instruction was organized in 1855 and it replaced the earlier Committee of
Public Instruction and Council of Education. The three universities of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay
came into existence in 1857. The ideals and methods advocated in Wood’s Despatch dominated the
field for about five decades. The same period also witnessed a rapid Westernization of the educational
system in India.The indigenous system gradually gave place to the Western system of education.
Education after 1858 After the revolt of 1857, many changes took place in the whole country. As a
result of the revolt, education system was also adversely affected.


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. Another reason for the
appointment of the commission was the propaganda carried on by the missionaries in England that
the education system of India was not carried on in accordance with the policy laid in Wood’s
Despatch. The principal object, therefore, of the enquiry of the commission should be the present
state of elementary education throughout the Indian Empire and the means by which this can be
extended and improved. Its main recommendations were:

1).It emphasized the State’s special care for the extension and improvement of primary education. “
Primary instruction” declared the Commission, “ should be regarded as the instruction of the masses
through the vernacular, in such subjects as will best fit them for their position in life.”

2.)For Secondary education, the principle was laid down that there should be two divisions- one, a
literary education leading up to the Entrance Examination of the University and the other of a
practical character preparing students for commercial and vocational careers.
3.) The Commission recommended that an all – out effort should be made to encourage private
enterprise in the field of education. To achieve that objective, it recommended the extension and
liberalization of the grants – in – aid system, recognition of aided schools as equal to Government,
institutions in matters of status and privileges etc.

4.) The Education Commission drew the attention to the inadequate facilities for female education
outside the Presidency towns and made recommendations for its spread.

The twenty years following the reports of the commission saw an unprecedented growth and
expansion of secondary and collegiate education. Another development of the period was the setting
up of the teaching cum – examining universities. The Punjab University was founded in 1882 as “the
supreme literary, supreme teaching and supreme examining body”, the Allahabad University was set
up in 1887.
The early years of the nineteenth century was a period of growing political unrest and controversies
in educational policies. The official view was that educational expansion had not proceeded on the
right lines, that quality had deteriorated under private management, there was a lot indiscipline in
schools and colleges and that educational institutions had become factories for the production of
political revolutionaries.


I n September 1901 Curzon summoned the highest educational officers of the Government
throughout India and representatives of universities at a round table conference at Shimla. The
conference opened with a speech by the Viceroy in which he surveyed the whole field of education in
India. “ We have not met here” he said, “ to devise a brand new plan of educational reform which is
to spring fully armed from the head of the Home Department and to be imposed nolens volens upon
the Indian public.”5 The Conference adopted 150 resolutions which touched almost every conceivable
branch of education. This was followed by the appointment of a Commission under the presidency of
Sir Thomas Raleigh on 27 January 1902 toenquire in to the condition and prospects of universities in
India and to recommend proposals for improving their constitution and working. As a report of the
recommendations of the commission the Indian Universities Act was passed in 1904. The main
changes proposed were as under:

(1) The universities were desired to make provision for promotion of study and research, to
appoint university professors and lecturers, set up university laboratories and libraries and undertake
direct instruction of students.
(2) The act laid down that the number of fellows of a university shall not be less than fifty nor
more than a hundred .
(3) Most of the fellows of a university were to be nominated by the Government. The elective
element at university of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay was to be twenty each and in case of other
universities fifteen only.

Modern Indian History, B.L. Grover and S. Grover, pg 261.

(4) The Government control over the Universities was further increased by vesting the
Government with powers to veto the regulations passed by the Senate of a University. The
Government could also make additions or alterations in the regulations framed by the Senate and
even frame regulations itself over and above the head of the Senate.

The Nationalist opinion both inside and outside the Legislative Council opposed the measure. Mr.
G.K. Gokhale described the bill ‘a retrograde measure’ which cast unmerited aspersion on the
educated classes of the country and was designed to perpetuate “ the narrow , bigoted and
inexpensive rule of experts.”6 Indian opinion believed that Curzon sought to reduce the universities
to the position of departments of the State and sabotage development of private enterprise in the field
of education. Ronaldshay, Curzon’s biographer, admits that “ the changes actually brought about
were small and out of all proportion either to the time and thought which the Viceroy had devoted to
them or to the violation of the opposition with they had been assailed… In its broad outline the
system of higher education remained much as it has been before.”7


Nationalist opinion could see no reason why the Government of India could not introduce
compulsory primary education in British India. During 1910 – 13 , G.K Gokhale made heroic efforts
in the Legislative Council urging the Government to accept the responsibility for compulsory primary

In its resolution of 21 February 1913, the Government of India refused to recognize the principle of
compulsory education , but accepted the policy of the removal of illiteracy. It urged the provincial
governments to take early steps to provide free elementary instruction to the poorer and more
backward sections of the population.

Regarding secondary education, the Resolution stressed the need for improvement of quality of
schools. As far as university education was concerned, the resolution declared that a university should
be established for each province and teaching activities of the universities should be encouraged.


In 1917 the Government of India appointed a Commission to study and report on the problems of
Calcutta University. Dr.M.E.Sadler , Vice – Chancellor of the University of Leeds, was appointed its
Chairman. The Commission included two Indian members, namely Sir Asutosh Mukherjee and Dr.

Ibid 4
The Earl of Ronaldshay : The Life of Lord Curzon, vol, ii, p.194.

Zia – ud –din – Ahmad. The Sadler Commission held the view that the improvement of secondary
education was a necessary condition for the improvement of university education.

The Commission reported on the conditions of Calcutta University, its recommendations and remarks
were more or less applicable to other Indian universities also. The following were the main

1.)A twelve year school course was recommended. The Government was urged to create new type of
institutions called Intermediate colleges. These colleges could either be run as independent
institutions or might be attached to selected high schools. For the administration and control of
Secondary Education, the Commission recommended the setting up of a board of Secondary and
Intermediate Education.
2.)The duration of the degree course after the Intermediate state should be limited to three years. For
the needs of abler students provision was to made for Honours courses as distinct from the pass
3.)The old type of Indian university, with its large number of affiliated and widely scattered colleges,
should be replaced by centralized unitary – residential – teaching autonomous bodies.
4.)It stressed the need for extension of facilities for female education and recommended the
establishment of a special Board of Women Education in the Calcutta University.
5.)The university was desired to prove courses in applied science and technology and also to
recognize their systematic and practical study by award of degrees and diplomas. The universities
were also to provide facilities for training of personnel for professional and vocational colleges.

Seven new universities came into existence during 1916 – 21, namely Mysore, Patna, Banaras,
Aligarh, Dacca, Lucknow and Osmania. In 1920, the Government of India recommended the Sadler
Report to provincial governments.


As a result of the Montagu – Chelmsford Reforms of 1919, the Department of Education was
transferred to the control of popular ministers in the various provinces. The Central Government
ceased to take direct interest in educational matters and the Department of Education in the
Government of India was amalgamated with other departments. Above all, the Central special grants
for education liberally sanctioned since 1902 were discontinued. Financial difficulties prevented the
provincial government from taking up ambitious schemes of educational expansion or improvement.
Despite all these handicaps there was considerable expansion of education, mostly by philanthropic


The quantitative increase of education inevitably led to deterioration of quality and lowering of
standards. The main findings of the Hartog Committee were as follows:

1. It emphasised the national importance of primary education , but condemned the policy of
hasty expansion or attempt to introduced compulsion in education. The Commission recommended
the policy of consolidation and improvements.
2. For secondary education, the Commission reported that the system was dominated by the
Matriculation Examination and many undeserving students considered it the path to university
education. It recommended a selective system for admission and urged the retention of most of the
boys intended for rural pursuits at the Middle Vernacular School stage. After the Middle Stage
students should be diverted to diversified courses leading to industrial and commercial careers.
3. The Commission pointed out the weaknesses of university education. It recommended that “all
efforts should be concentrated in improving university work, in confining the university to its proper
function of giving good advanced education to students who are fit to receive it and, in fact making
the university a more fruitful and less disappointing agency in the life of a community.”


The Government of India Act 1935, introduced provincial autonomy and popular ministries started
functioning from 1937. The Congress party came into power in seven provinces. The congress party
set a work to evolve a national scheme of education for the country. In 1937 Mahatma Gandhi
published a series of articles in his paper, The Harijan, and proposed a scheme of education called
Basic Education, better known as the Wardha Scheme. The main principle of Basic Education is
‘learning through activity’. The Zakir Husain Committee worked out the details of the scheme and
prepared detailed syllabi for a number of crafts and made suggestions concerning training of teachers,
supervision, examination and administration. The outbreak of the war in 1939 and the resignation of
Congress Ministries led to the postponement of the scheme. It was left to the National Government to
take up the work after 1947.


In 1944 the Central Advisory Board of Education drew up a national scheme of education, generally
known as the Sargeant Plan. This plan envisaged the establishment of elementary schools and high
schools and introduction of universal free and compulsory education for children between the ages of
6 and 11. A school course of six years was to be provided for children between the ages of 11 and 17.
The high schools were to be of two types: (a) academic and (b) technical and vocational school with
different curricula. The plan also recommended the abolition of the Intermediate course and the
addition of an extra year each at the high school and the college stage. The Sargeant Scheme
envisaged a 40 – year educational reconstruction plan for the country, which was reduced to 16 years
by the Kher Committee.8


British neglected education for Indians because according to the British, by getting the education
Indians could stand against the British Rule. They thought that if Indians would become educated
they could get equal rights and positions as them in the society.


The British educational system was undoubtedly defective, yet it was this very system which enabled
India to develop deep cultural contacts with other progressive countries of the west.

The British Government always remained indifferent towards the proper planning of education in
India so much so that Hastings, Minto, Princep and others opposed the introduction of English
education in India, whereas liberal leaders of India, like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, worked with heart
and soul for its establishment in the country. The efforts which Macaulay and Bentinck made for
English education in India appear to have had their goodwill for the country.

 The British System Acquainted India with Western Knowledge and Sciences :

During the last years of the eighteenth century India was in great throes due to political disintegration,
social animosities, traditionalism and superstitions. It had neither become acquainted with the new
ideas of the West, nor did it have the power either to preserve intact its ancient culture, literature and
ideals or to help them advance. All the paths of progress in the country were beset with difficulties
and clouds of pessimism overcast the firmament of India.

 English Education Brought out a Reawakening and a Desire to Recapture Our Ancient Glory :

Apart from acquainting us with the progress that the world had made as well as with Western
knowledge and wisdom, the English system dressed up a new, in the English medium, the old stories
of our ancient culture, literature, history and religion. All the treasures which we had forgotten and
which had been destroyed by time, was given back to us in the English form by the kindness of such
great men as Max Muller, Williams and others.

 English Education Broadened the Path of a Better System of Education and Government in the
Country :

The introduction of English as the medium of instruction did adversely affect our mother tongues, but
nevertheless it was this very factor which indirectly induced us to develop our languages. Several
languages were prevalent at the time of the introduction of English education, but apart from Sanskrit
and Persian no other language was so developed as to be fit for being adopted as the medium of

Besides, the English scholars and officers made philological studies of the various languages of the
country and prepared dictionaries and grammar. They even published magazines and periodicals in
these languages. All this might have been done from a selfish motive for the propagation of their
religion; nevertheless, India will always remain indebted to them on this score.

 Development of Nationalism through English Education :

Besides acquainting the Indians with the knowledge of the west arid the glory of ancient India along
with its literature and culture, English education also rekindled in the people the spirit of nationalism.

It was due to this education that the pearls of ancient Indian thought and feeling were wreathed
together and it was again due to the universality of the English language that we could acquaint the
world with ancient wisdom of our country.

There appears to be no need for holding the brief for English educational system because it is due to
this very system that English ethics, arts and crafts, laws and rules, literature, science and
administrative system are still prevalent in India and are useful also.

Western Education was the remedy for the social, economical and political ills of the nation. Western
Education gave people of the nation the right to avail governmental services.


 Disassociated people from traditional way of learning – While welcomed by different sections of
society, the new system of education had some adverse affects also. It had disassociated Indian
people from their traditional way of learning and living, their classical roots and indigenous
knowledge. Along with it faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions.
 Divided Indian people – Census operations started by British Government in India for administrative
purposes and the purpose prolonging its rule in India along with the disparities created by modern
education had divided Indian people into water-tight compartments (SCs, STs, OBCs, Upper castes
and minorities etc).
 Loosened the bonds of caste system and led to casteism – Modern education had loosened the bonds
of caste system, which kept discipline in various sections of society and believed in inter-
dependence. It also made Indians to loose their faith in social values and systems. So much and so
that some groups of Indian society considered the social practices and customs prevalent in India as
 Costly nature of modern education – Though British rulers opened the doors of education to all,
they were not concerned much about mass education. The costly nature of education tended to make
it a monopoly of the richer classes and city dwellers. Initially, it was an impoverished group of
Brahmin and caste Hindus in search of livelihood, who in desire to live with dignity and honour
opted for modern education. Except for a few, masses could not avail its advantages despite the
relentless efforts of missionaries with an aim to convert poor people into Christianity.

Introduction of Western Education in India neglected mass education in the country. Western
Education could destroy the faith of Indians in their own religions

In 1835, Lord Macauley laid successfully the foundation of modern education in India. The sole
purpose was to educate Indians in such a way that they “should through western education get
Anglicised in terms of both cultural and intellectual attainments”. Introduction of modern education
had served a double purpose for the British rulers- they got the credit for the amelioration of the
Indian society. Also at the same time, through it, they devised a unique method of distribution of
power, kept balance of power and prolonged their rule in India by keeping the natives busy in their
in-fights. After the introduction of new modern education system, the traditional Indian system of
education gradually withered away for the lack of official- support. And with it, Indian people got
dis-associated from traditional way of learning. The reason of introducing the modern education was
that it was too costly and practically impossible to import a large number of Englishmen to fill up the
large and increasing number of subordinate or lower posts in administration. Modern education not
only provided personnel to fill the lower levels in administration, as desired by the rulers, but also
produced national leaders, intellectuals and reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dadabhai Naoroji,
Ferozeshah Mehta, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jinnah, Ambedkar, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru,
Jawahar Lal Nehru, Neta Subhash Chandra Bose, Patel and many more. They took upon themselves
the responsibility to build a modern, open, plural, culturally rich, prosperous and powerful India out
of a fragmModern education did produce manpower, as desired by the rulers. But it also generated
groups of visionary national leaders and reformers. The second half of the nineteenth century saw the
impact of modern education on Indians.

Swami Vivekanand and many others gave a call to “Return to Vedas”. He said, “Each nation like
each individual has a theme in this life, which is its center, the principle note, around which every
other note comes to form the harmony. If any nation attempts to throw off its national vitality, the
direction, which has become its own through the transmission of centuries, the nation dies.”ented,
poverty stricken, superstitious, weak, indifferent, backward and inward looking society.


INDIA , 2010.

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