Jul 23, 2008

1883 Report of Education System in India

I happened to find, with my usual curiosity, about India's ancient documents, in a computer server somewhere in an Australian educational institution! Precisely from "La Trobe Collection, State Library of Victoria"

Title: "William Hunter , ( 1883 ), Report of the Indian Education Commission, Calcutta , Superintendent of Government Printing, India"

If you are curious too, read it here :) This link is pointed at Page 8.

Some excerpts:

['Meanwhile, a new influence in favour of popular education was being brought to bear upon the Indian Government by missionary and philanthropic bodies both in this country and in Europe. The old system, however, did not give place to the new without a struggle. For many years the medium and the character of the instruction to be given in Government Schools and Colleges were the subject of a vigorous controversy between the Anglicists and the Orientalists. The former party urged that all instruction of the higher kind should be given through the English language, and should be in accordance with modern ideas. The latter, while admitting that what was then taught as science had no right to that title, wished to maintain the study of the Oriental classics in accordance with the methods indigenous to the country. Both parties broadly and prominently admitted the claims of the vernacular languages. Among the Orientalists were many distinguished of the officers of Government, and for some time their views prevailed in the General Committee of Public Instruction। But the minority gradually became more and more powerful; and when in 1835 the two parties were so evenly balanced that things had come to a dead-lock, it was Macaulay's advocacy of English education that turned the scale against the Orientalists.

His famous Minute was immediately followed by a Resolution of the Governor-General, which plainly declared for English as against Oriental education. A few years later the Orientalists made several efforts to rescind this Resolution and to revert to the previous policy in favour of the classical languages of India. They received, however, no encouragement from the Government; and in 1839 Lord Auckland published a Minute which finally closed the controversy. The purport of this Minute was "that although English was to " be retained as the medium of the higher instruction in European literature, philosophy, and science, the existing oriental institutions were to be kept up in full efficiency, and were to receive the same encouragement as might be given to the students at English institutions. Vernacular instruction was to be combined with English, full choice being allowed to the pupils to attend whichever tuition they might individually prefer." * Since that time education in India has proceeded upon the recognition of the value of English instruction, of the duty of the State to spread Western knowledge among its subjects, and of the valuable aid which missionary and philanthropic bodies can render in the task.']

['The Missionaries of the American Board opened a number of primary schools in the Madura District in 1834; and maintained for many years, subsequent to 1835, a school in the town of Madura in which English was taught. But the measure which did most for education in the South was taken by another missionary body. In 1837, Mr. Anderson, the first Missionary of the Scottish Church to Southern India, opened an institution in Madras. He aimed at implanting in natives of the country a desire for education of a distinctively Western type, communicated through the medium of the English language. The success of the experiment was unequivocal from the outset. Mr. Anderson's Institution became a centre of educational activity,..']

The English language is to be the medium of instruction in the higher branches, and the vernacular in the lower. English is to be taught wherever there is a demand for it, but it is not to be substituted for the vernacular languages of the country. The system of grants-in-aid is to be based on the principle of perfect religious neutrality. Aid is to be given (so far as the requirements of each particular District as compared with other Districts and the funds at the disposal of Government may render it possible) to all schools imparting a good secular education, provided they are under adequate local management and are subject to Government inspection, and provided that fees, however small, are charged in them.']

Other reading: James Mill , ( 1817 ), THE HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA. BY JAMES MILL, ESQ. , London , Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, Paternoster Row


Sarita Shekhar said...

Very true - the ancient Indian education is very inspirational and a beautiful form of training; and the sense of thoroughness that it encompasses is second to no other.. I wish our wonderful ancient heritage is revived..

Suchin said...

Sarita, thanks for responding with your view.

When Britishers took command, they brought in the missionaries and churches to 'educate' our Indians because they observed our 'education system and content had nothing to do with providing knowledge or skills'. They thought it was more religious study than any science! So they replaced our education with their western system thereby their concepts of the world and their religion.

The excerpts of text I have pasted is more from their intentions to bring in missionaries from their country and how they changed minds of innocent people (students) to make believe our knowledge was very inferior to theirs. Our language, heritage, culture and everything was 'inferior' to theirs! They sure were successful in doing this. Even to this day, we have the inferiority complex in us when we talk in our own languages, we always use more of english than even our own mother tongue. Our expertise is not in mastering Indian language but to master english (sorry but this is a fact today.) Isn't that pity that we consider everything associated with english as the best in the world? Obviously the British have achieved what they intended to do with us.

Rama said...

A very well researched post. As you rightly said in your comment, mastering Indian languages seems to be something below the "dignity" of Indians today. English being a "universal language" mastery definitely is not required but a working knowledge maybe necessary.

When we see our education system, and History in particular, we see a lacuna in the way, the sequence/consequences are portrayed which is definitely the British legacy. The History seems so distorted when we read all that. What the British intended, we are continuing in PRIDE

Suchin said...

I had a chance to attend Shri Sudarshan's (RSS supremo) speech in Fremont, California. The meeting that went for 2 days was attended by about 22 thousand people mostly from California and some from other States.

In a bouddhik (discussion/forum) someone from the group asked Sudarshan, how to bring their children born and brought up in America with Indian values.

I liked what Sudarshan said. He said all that they have to do is have their children read books and collection information only from Indian sources as in books written in one of the Indian languages which could be the mother tongue of the child. The reason he said, the english language books written by the english speaking people can carry only english values/culture. Whereas our Indian writers write about our environment, our lifestyle, our culture, our people, our history etc. This is most important for the child to relate where they have all come from directly or indirectly.

Well said.