Modern System of Education
The beginning of the modern system of Indian education can be traced to the efforts of the Christian missionaries who arrived in India in the wake of European occupation. As a result of their efforts, many institutions were established across India. These institutions imparted Western as well as Indian education.
Role of Christian Missionaries
Europeans came to India for trade and established trading companies. They acquired lands and constructed fortresses. Later they wanted to spread their culture and religion among Indians. The Europeans thought that they could makeIndians understand the administration and religious theories better if they could impart education to the local population in their own method. So they started educational institutions. The Portuguese were the first Europeans who started modern system of education in India. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit, started a university at Cochin. They started many primary schools. The first college offering degrees on a completion of a course was started in Goa in 1575 where Christianity, logic, grammar and music were taught. John Kiernander was one of the most zealous pioneers and was perhaps the first missionary in India to introduce education for non -Christian children as an evangelistic agency. In 1812, Dr. C.S. John established 20 free reading schools in Tranquebar.
Followed by the Portuguese, the French opened their institutions for all the Indians where education was imparted by Indian teachers through local languages. They started higher secondary schools where French language was taught. Two German Bishops, named Ziegenbalg and Plustscham, started schools and a training college for teachers in Travancore. After the arrival of English East India Company in 1600 AD(CE), institutions were established for imparting instruction in English. Gradually Sanskrit colleges were opened in Madras and Benaras. The first Bishop of Calcutta, the Revered Dr. Middleton, started a missionary college at Calcutta, which became famous as the Bishop’s College. Mountstuart Elphinstone was actually a strong advocate of vernacular education, but on his retirement in 1827, his admirers collected funds and established a college offering English classes, named the Elphinstone College at Bombay. Missionaries made a good deal of attempt for the propagation of education in India. Due to their efforts many institutions were established.These institutions imparted Western education as well as Indian education.
Education in the British Rule
History of education in British rule can be divided into four periods: (i) from the early days of the British rule up to 1813; period from 1813–1853; (iii) period from 1854–1920 and (iv) period from 1921–1947.
(i) From the early days of the British rule up to 1813
During its early days, the East India Company followed a policy of indifference and non-interference towards education as this sector did not form a part of its programme. The Company's charter was renewed in 1813, which compelled the Company to assume responsibility for the education of Indians, though on a very limited scale. Besides missionaries, non-missionaries like Raja Ram Mohan Roy of Bengal, Pachyappar of Madras, W. Frazer of Delhi contributed to the cause of education.
In 1813, the East India Company was compelled to assert the responsibility for the education of the Indians. Charter of Act of 1813 made a provision for an annual grant of a sum of 1 lakh rupees for the promotion of education in India.
(ii) Period from 1813–1853
The second period was also marked by great educational controversies concerning the issues of educational policy, medium of instruction and method of spreading education. First, there were the orientalists who supported the preservation of Oriental learning and the use of Sanskrit and Persian as the media of instruction. They were opposed by the Anglicists who advocated dissemination of Western knowledge through English. A third section believed in the use of Indian languages as the media of instruction.
These controversies were partially set at rest by Macaulay's Minutes of 1835. Higher education was de-orientalised, encouraging English education for the upper classes. Each province was allowed to follow its own education policy. But even then, the controversies continued till 1854.
(iii) Period from 1854–1920
The third phase of British-influenced education may be called the period of an All-India Educational Policy. It commenced with Sir Charles Wood’s Despatch in 1854. Hunter Education commission started in 1882, gave emphasis to Primary Education.
The Wood’s Despatch (1854) is called the ‘Magna Carta’ of English education in India because it was the first declaration of British education policy for educating the masses at all levels. But it resulted in the complete control on state education, divorcing it from Indian ideals and culture.
(iv) Period from 1921–1947
The fourth phase may be called the period of provincial autonomy. The Act of 1935 ushered a new era of educational advancement through the country. The new programmes were hit hard by the worldwide economic depression in 1929. The introduction of complete provincial autonomy by the Government of India Act of 1935 further strengthened the position of the provincial ministers of education. After the Second World War, a very important plan for educational development, known as the Sergeant Report (1944) was prepared. This blueprint had a powerful influence on contemporary education, both in thought as well as in practice.
Wardha Scheme of Education (1937)
In 1937, Gandhiji evolved a scheme populary known as the Wardha Scheme of Basic National Education. The principle of non-violence was the basis of Gandhiji scheme of Basic Education. Through this scheme he wanted to develop those qualities in future citizens of India which he considered necessary for building a non-violent society. His system of Education wanted to root out exploitation and centralization in society and create a non-violent social order.