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Evolution of Education System in India

Evolution of Education System in India

Basic Education Policy & Growth of Modern Education 


Very little development is made except two things

(1)The Calcutta madrassa was set up by Warren Hastings for the study of teachings of Muslim law & subjects mainly in Arabic & Persian language.

(2) The Sanskrit college at Varanasi was established by Jonathan Duncan in 1792 for the study of Hindu law & Philosophy.  Both were designed to provide a regular supply of qualified Indians to help the administration of law in the Courts of Company.

In 1784, Sir William Jones founded Asiatic Society of Bengal at Calcutta to do more research in the History & Antiquities, Natural productions, Arts, Sciences & Literature of Asia.

In 1800, Lord Wellesley started the Fort William College in Calcutta in 1800 for the instruction of the English Civil servants of the company.

In 1802 at this time enlightened Indians & Missionaries were exerting pressure on Govt. to promote modern, secular, western education because they thoughts such education was cure or remedy for all evils of the country whether socially economical or political. Missionaries thought that modern education would reduce the faith of Indians in their own religion and they would opt Christianity.  Serampore Missionaries were very enthusiastic about spread of education.  

Phase –II (1813-1853)

Due to the strong pressure for reforms exerted by enlightened Indians & Missionaries The Charter Act of 1813 was formulated by Britishers.

Through this Act British parliament directed the East India Company to spend one lac rupees annually on the development of education in British occupied territory.  But the company didn’t use this amount till 1823.

 On July 1823, the Governor General in Council appointed a General Committee on Public instruction for the Presidency of Bengal with members like HT Princep, HH Wilson  


The member of above mentioned Committee were divided into 2 groups.

Orientalist Anglicist
 They wanted to utilize the funds in the development of oriental education that is Sanskrit and Arabic. They were in favor of English education but only one group and other group favors the western education but in vernacular languages.
According to them western Sciences and Literature should be taught to prepare students to take up jobs, but emphasis should be on expansion of traditional Indian language. They believe on Downward Filtration Theory-The education always fliters down from the upper classes of the society to the common masses.


  • Efforts of Enlightened Indians such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a grant was sanctioned for Calcutta College set up in 1817 by educated Bengalis which imparts English education in Western Sciences

The Charter Act of 1833 increased the amount from Rs. 1 lacs to Rs. 10 lacs per annum, which created more problems, as the amount was big and each group was determined to have their way.

Macaulay’s Minute 

The Controversy resolved only with the appointment of Lord Macaulay as the President of General Committee in 1835.  He was also a law member of the Governor General’s Executive Council.  He wrote his famous minute on 2ndFeb 1835 in favor of Anglicist Education.


The Orientalist objected against Macaulay’s Minute but Governor General of India William Bentick passed on a resolution on 7 march 1835 and gave his verdict in favor of anglicist.

This resolution was significant in many ways:-

  1. It was first declaration of the education policy which East India Govt. wanted to pursue in India.
  2. This resolution immediately stopped stipend that were being given to the students who had joined oriental school or colleges.
  3. It also discontinued the expenditure on printing of all oriental works.
  4. This resolution paved the way for the English to become medium of education in country. Thus in 1837, the Persian language was abolished as the Court language and was replaced by English, which greatly affects the Muslim elite(Ashraf).

In 1844, Lord Hardinge passed a resolution which declared that for all kind of govt. jobs preference would be given to those who could read and write English.  Thus English language begin to be valued as a source of livelihood and vertical progress.

Macaulay wanted to create an India that was “full of people Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, opinions, moral and intellect.”  Once the Indian mentality had been moulded to suit the British framework, it was more than enough to rule the country forever.  But such Indians would be more loyal to the British rule and would easily accept the british norms as well as their products.

Defects in Macaulay’s Minute and William Bentick’s resolution

Important defect was the neglect of mass education.  Their framework was based on Infiltration Theory under which Govt.’s responsibility was only to educate the upper classes of India through the medium of English.  They believed that an English educated person would in turn impart the knowledge to the masses and enrich their science and literature awareness.  Unfortunately this did not happen and vernacular languages were neglected both by Govt.  and the English educated Indians.

Efforts of Thomson- James Thomson, lieutenant Governor of NWP(1843-1853) developed a comprehensive scheme of village education through medium of vernacular languages.  In these village schools, useful subjects such as Mensuration, and Agriculture sciences were taught mainly to train personnel for newly set up revenue and PWD

Phase-III (1854-1900)

Till 1853 some schools and colleges established which justified the progress in the field of education but mass education was still neglected.  The Govt. in England felt the need of mass education.

WOOD’S DISPATCH 1854  : Charles Wood prepared a Dispatch on educational system for India.  It was most important document of British Education Policy in India.  And it is rightfully considered as the magna carta of British Education in India.

NOTE : Charles Wood was then President of Board of Control, who became the 1st Secretary of State of India in 1858.


  • Mass education is the responsibility of Govt. o Attention should be given for wider extension of education, both English and vernacular. o It means the hierarchy of school
    (a) vernacular primary schools in villages at bottom
    (b)Anglo vernacular High schools and
    (c)an affiliated college at district levels and affiliated universities in Presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. o A separate Department of Education in every Indian province should be created. o Universities must be established in Presidency towns of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay on the pattern of London University.  These universities had to only conduct the examinations for testing the knowledge of students who were taught elsewhere.
  • Institution for the purpose of training teachers should be established. o Female education should be encouraged. o Secular education in Govt. schools.
  • New Middle schools, especially vernacular schools and technical schools and colleges should be established.
  • A system of granting aid to the privately run schools and colleges should be introduced.

Most of its recommendations were implemented.  The first three universities were set up at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay in 1857 and later on departments of education were set up in all provinces.  An Agriculture Institution at PUSA and an Engineering Institute at Roorkee were started.

Bethune School founded by JED Bethune at Calcutta 1849 was the result of a powerful movement for Education of women which arose in 1840s and 50s.  Bethune was President of Council of Education and due to his efforts girl school were set up.


The wood’s Dispatch was a climax in the history of Indian education but Govt. felt that many more things had to be done in the field of Education especially at primary level.  Thus a commission came in 1882   Hunter Education Commission (1882-83)  presided by W W Hunter.

  • Lord Rippon appointed Hunter Commission.

Aim of Hunter Education Commission – To review the working of Wood’s Dispatch and the progress of education in India.  The commission presented its report in 1883 and its recommendations were confined mostly to primary and secondary education.

Important recommendations of Hunter Commission:-

  • To give more importance to primary education through vernacular languages and the responsibility must be given to local district and municipal boards.
  • There should be lesser govt. control over universities in case of higher education and universities to have flexibility to develop a separate curriculum.
  • Secondary education to be divided into two divisions :- (a) literary education, leading up to University level   (b) vocational studies.
  • To give emphasis on secular and moral education.
  • To provide library facilities and furniture in schools
  • To give more attention towards female education as the commission was not satisfied with the progress in this direction.

Significance of Hunter Commission

  1. Many schools and colleges were opened.
  2. Two universities were opened-Punjab university (1882), Allahabad university(1887)
  3. Western as well as oriental studies were given equal importance.



In Jan 1902, Thomas Releigh (a member of viceroy’s Executive Council) Commission was appointed in which two Indian-Syed Hussain Bilgrami and Gurudas Bannerjee – were also made members.


  • Post Graduate Courses were introduced in Universities. They started not only conducting exams but also taking classes.
  • Indian Universities Act of 1904 : Educational Institutions mainly universities played a big role in moulding the thinking of educated youth towards nationalism, which was not liked by Lord Curzon and he passed Indian Universities Act of 1904 to have more govt. control over universities.
  • This Act directed universities to focus on their academic role-research and teaching. Clearly the intention of Govt. was to check the role of nationalist feeling among educated elite.
  • Despite all efforts the literacy rate in 1911 census was only 6%.


Govt. of India urged the provincial governments to take early steps to provide free elementary education to poorer and backward section of population.

In 1906, State of Baroda introduced compulsory primary education throughout its territory even before the resolution of 1913.


Appointed by govt. of india and report on the problems of Calcutta University.  This commission also reviewed the entire field, form school education to university education.  Like Releigh commission this also has two Indian members – Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee and Zia-uddin Ahmed.

Important recommendations:-

  1. School course was to be of 12 years , after metric student had to pass an intermediate examination from the intermediate college.
  2. Duration of Degree course should be limited to 3 years. An honors. courses should be distinct from regular pass courses. Women education was to be encouraged.  Establishment of special board of women education in Calcutta university.
  3. Provision of facilities were to be made for training teachers and setting up the department of education at the university of Calcutta and Dacca.

In 5 years from 1916-21 seven more universities were started

  1. Patna university
  2. Mysore university
  3. Banaras university
  4. Aligarh Muslim University
  5. Dacca University
  6. Lucknow University
  7. Osmania University(Hyderabad)
Many Individuals also set colleges and universities:-

  1. G.D. Karve at Pune established Indian women University in 1960.
  2. Vishvabharti (1921) at Shanti Niketan established by Rabinder Nath Tagore.
  3. IISC Banglore 1911.
  4. Forest Research Institute 1914 Dehradun.
  5. Indian School of Mines 1926 at Dhanbad.


According to Govt. of India Act 1919 Education became a provincial subject administered by Indian popular ministries but due to Dyarchy, ministers had limited power and thus could not contribute much to the progress of education establishment of Inter university Board.


Indian Statutory commission appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Philip Hartog to report on the development of Education.

Main Recommendations:-

  • Primary education should be given more importance. o It also needs consolidation and improvement. o The student for university level should be checked at school level itself.
  • Only deserving/selected students should go in for higher education.


INC, under leadership of Mahatma Gandhi proposed a scheme of education called Basic Education and also called Wardha Scheme  as it was formulated at national conference of Education in Oct 1937 in Wardha.

Dr. Jakir Hussain Committee formulated a detailed National Scheme.  The main principle behind this scheme was “Learning through Activities.”

Gandhiji believed that education should be linked with crafts, and manual productive work.

It was based on Gandhiji’s ideas published in a series of articles in the weekly “Harijan”.

This scheme has following provisions:-

  1. Inclusion of Basic Handicraft in the syllabus.
  2. First 7 years of schooling to be an integral part of a free and compulsory nationwide education system(through mother tongue)
  3. Teaching to be in Hindi from 2nd -7th class and then English.
  • However this scheme had to be postponed due to outbreak of World War – II(1939-45) and the resignation of Congress ministries from eight provinces in Oct 1939.


Sir John Sergeant was educational advisor to Govt. of India under whose leadership a national scheme for education was drawn.

  • Pre primary education for 3-6 years age group.
  • Universal free and compulsory education for children 6-11 year.
  • For 11-17 year a secondary education of six years was to be provided.
  • High schools were two types -(a)Academic schools (b) technical and vocational schools .
  • Abolition of Intermediate course.
  • Stress on teacher’s training.


Chairman- D.S. Kothari

He was assisted by experts form U.K, USA, USSR, UNESCO

1976- Education placed in concurrent list

2002- 86 C.A.A. Free Education (Art 21A aim at free elementary education) upto 8


1986- New Policy on Education announced.

RTE (Right To Education ) ACT 2009.

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