Education during British Time

In 1823, the Governor-General-in Council appointed a “General Committee of Public Instruction”, which had the responsibility to grant the one lakh of rupees for education. That committee consisted of 10 European members belonging to two groups Anglicists and Orientalists. Hence, it promoted both Indian and english education. 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. Even 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. T.B. Macaulay was appointed as the President of the General Committee on Public Instruction. The blueprint for the introduction of English education in India was provided by the Macaulay’s famous Minute on Indian Education. Thus, Lord Macaulay’s Minute (1835),  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 Charter Act of 1813 is considered as the real beginning of Western Education in India because it provided for allocation of one hundred thousand per year for two specific purposes: first, the encouragement of the learned natives of India and the revival of and improvement of literature; secondly, the promotion of a knowledge of the sciences amongst the inhabitants of the country. The Charter Act of 1813 was silent on the introduction of English education. It did not immediately decide the nature of education to be provided to the Indians. It was rather vague in its language and was open to interpretation.
  • The Wood’s Dispatch (the document dispatched from the Court of Directors and popularly named after Sir Charles Wood, President of the Board of Control) of 1854 was another important step in the development of education in India. The Dispatch asked the Government of India to assume the responsibility for the education of masses. As a result, Departments of Education were instituted in all provinces and affiliating universities were set in 1857 at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras
  • Lord Ripon appointed an Education Commission in 1882 under the chairmanship of Sir William Hunter to review the progress of education in India, since Wood’s dispatch of 1854. The commission laid emphasis on the special responsibility of the state for the improvement and expansion of primary education.