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Educational Development in Tamil Nadu
The pattern of education in Tamil Nadu was not merely reading and understanding of books but listening to learned persons. The Thirukkural stresses the need for education and warns the dangers of illiteracy. In ancient times, the school was called ‘Palli’ and the teacher was a ‘Kanakkayar’.
A significant development took place in the field of education during the Pallava period. Ghatika was an educational institution. The Pallava kings supported those educational institutions through endowments. The Vaishnava and Saiva mutts provided boarding and lodging facilities to all students and teachers.
Hiuen Tsang gives a graphic picture about Kanchi Buddhist centre and Kanchi, was considered as the main centre of learning.
The Chola period was the most brilliant and creative period in the Tamil literature. Tamil education enjoyed a greater connection with religion and temple. Free education was given to people. The curriculum and syllabi had a theoretical background. From the inscription of that period, we can now gain knowledge about the qualification of teacher, method of teaching, salary of teachers, food provided to the students and the land given to the schools etc. Rajaraja Chaturvedimangalam was the famous seat of a Vedic college (Ennayiram in Former South Arcot district). At Tirubuvanai (in Pondicherry) Vedic college flourished. The Tiruvidaikkalai inscription mentions a library. Tiruvaduthurai inscription of Virarajendra refers to a medical school.
The Pandya kings patronised Sanskrit in an exemplary way. It is revealed in the copper plates. The educational institutions of that period were called as Ghatigai, Salai and Vidhyasathana.
Lands were given to teachers. They were known as Salabhogam (e.g. Vallabha Perunchalai at Kanyakumari) . The famous college during the Pandya regime was Kandhalur Salai. Mutts occupied a significant place in the promotion of education. Learning flourished under the Vijayanagar rule. Many educational institutions were established under their patronage. Thinnappalli Koodam was established during the Nayak rule.
Education in Modern period
Fernandez, who came to Madurai during the time of Veerappa Nayak, established a primary school. The Maratha ruler Sarfoji II collected the old records and kept them in the Saraswathi Mahal library, Tanjore. He also had a printing press with Devanagari type, located there.
Sir Thomas Munro the Governor of Madras Presidency (1820-27) was highly responsible for the introduction of Western education in Madras Presidency. He appointed a committee to conduct a statistical survey of the condition of education. The Education Commission of Munro recommended the creation of two principal schools (Collectorate and Tahsildare schools) in each district. In 1835 Lord William Bentinck passed a resolution favouring the introduction of western system of education in India. Wood’s Despatch of 1854 introduced the Department of Public instruction in Madras Presidency. Grant-in-aid was given to all schools. The Madras University was founded in 1857. It was the first University in Tamil Nadu under the British rule. In 1882 the Local Boards Act was passed. The Board was empowered to open new schools and to get grants from the government. By 1938, all subjects except English were taught in Tamil in schools.
The Annamalai University was founded at Chidambaram in 1929. This was the next step in the development of higher education
Education since independence
Free education at the secondary school level was introduced in 1964 – 65.
The Gandhigram Rural College was established in 1975. Since 1971, Distance education has also been introduced in Tamilnadu to educate those who could not go to colleges.
In 1956, Midday Meal Programme was introduced in schools. Later, it was extended as Nutrition Meal Scheme in 1982 to avoid drop-outs in schools.
Since 1986 several changes have taken place to meet the changing dynamics of the society, in keeping with the National Policy of Education.
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