Dr. V.K. Maheshwari, Former Principal

K.L.D.A.V(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

The development of education is a continuum, which gathers its past history into a living stream, flowing through the present into the future. It is essential to see the historical background of educational development to understand the present and visualize the future. It is essential  to look briefly at educational developments from the ancient i.e. 2nd millennium BC to the modern period. The development of the education system in India can be broadly divided into five stages

1.  Ancient Period/Vedic Period :

2. Buddhist Period

3. Medieval period.

4. British period

5.Post Independence period

Ancient Period/ Vedic Period  -

In vedic era education had a very prominent place in society. It was being considered as pious and important for society. In the eyes of Aryans, education was the only means to acquire, prosperity in the field of physical, mental, spiritual and social developments. Education was must for everybody for becoming cultured. In absence of education people were considered as uncultured and animal like thing. Education was an instrument to show new paths and knowledge to . Education opens hidden qualities and helps people to attain Salvation. It can be regarded as ―Third Eye‘ of human beings. Through education only a man gets rid from debt of Guru and so was the feeling of people at that time. In short by putting different logic.  Education was the most important aspect of human life of that period. Terms such as knowledge, awakening, humility, modesty etc. are often used to characterize education in the vedic period.

To attain salvation by realizing the truth has been the aims to education during this period only that education was regarded true which helped one be realize this supreme truth. According to the Upanishads truth‘, alone is the knowledge and the other worldly knowledge is untruth. The worldly knowledge was regarded as ignorance. Upanishads maintain that one cannot attain salvation through worldly knowledge because through this, one becomes involved in illusion (Maya).

Buddhist Education System-

In India during the time of Buddha, there was a racial discrimination in the society. This discrimination was according to profession of man, and according to birth. In the society there were four division of society of whom Brahman was superior. Brahmanism dominated the society and established their supremacy in the country. They enjoyed rights for religious training and education. But other category of people deprived of their religious and educational rights. At that time there were 62 heretical doctrines in existence and priesthood got upper hand. In this background a religious revolution started in ancient India in 600 B.C. and a new doctrine or system developed which is called Buddhist doctrine or Buddhist philosophy. It is to be said that on the foundation of Buddhism a new and special Education System originated in ancient India. Buddhism made a tremendous movement which played a valuable role in the development of Education System in ancient India or ancient Buddhist world. It is well-known that with the rise of Buddhism in India there dawned the golden age of India’s culture and civilisation. There was progress in all aspects of Indian civilisation under the impact of Buddhism  There arose many centres of learning which did not exist before.

The  goal of Buddhist education is to attain wisdom. In Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, the Buddhist wisdom was called ―Anuttara-Samyak-Sambhodi‖ meaning the perfect ultimate wisdom. The Buddha taught  that the main objective of our practice or cultivation was to achieve this ultimate wisdom. The Buddha further taught that everyone has the potential to realize this state of ultimate wisdom, as it is an intrinsic part of  nature, not something one obtains externally.

.Buddhism threw its colleges open to all, irrespective of any consideration of caste or country. The rise of organized public educational institutions may be justified attributed to its influence. It raised the international status of India by efficiency of its higher education, which attracted students from distant countries like Korea, China, Tibet and Java. The cultural sympathy which the countries in eastern Asia feel for India even today is entirely due to the work of the famous Buddhist colleges of ancient India. Buddhist education also helped the development of Hindu logic and philosophy by initiating and encouraging comparative study.

Education During Medieval Period( Islamic  Education)-

Islam gives importance to education, which is the process of teaching and acquiring or learning knowledge (which includes beliefs, values, attitudes, manners and skills).Education in Islam plays important role in developing every individual to be successful in realizing the very purpose of man’s creation. Islam attaches such great importance to knowledge and education. When the Qur’an began to be revealed, the first word of its first verse was ‘Iqra’ that is, read. Education is thus the starting point of every human activity. A scholar (alim) is accorded great respect in the hadith. According to a hadith the ink of the pen of a scholar is more precious than the blood of a martyr,  because ascholar builds individuals and nations along positive lines. In this way he bestows a real life to the world. On the one hand Islam places great emphasis on learning, on the other, all those factors which are necessary to make progress in learning have provided by God. One of these special factors is the freedom of research.

Education during British period-

The development of education system during the British period was determined by the needs of the colonial powers.Although, before 1813, Missionaries and various religious groups had brought some basic education unofficially to the Indian masses but it was through the Charter Act of 1813 that a state system of education was officially introduced in the Indian history

Division among the British: Orientalists vs. Anglicists-

The Charter Act created a controversy between the anglicists and orientalists on the medium of instruction. In addition, the Charter Act of 1813 did not clarify the objectives of education and the methods for improvement of literature of the learned 64natives in India. The Charter Act had stressed on allotting the money only. No specific regulations were made for establishing the schools and colleges in India.

Macaulay Minutes-

Lord Macaulay landed in India on June 10, 1834 and was immediately appointed as president of General Committee of Public Instruction. Lord Macaulay wrote a minute on 2ndFebruary 1835, where he made the decision regarding the controversy. Lord Macaulay stressed the implementation of the English language as a medium of instruction through the minute. According to him, English was the best medium of instruction. He held the view that this would enable the emergence of a class of people in the Indian society, who would be well versed in English language, Western ideology, taste and opinion. By introducing the English language for the education of the Indian masses, Macaulay‘s opinion was that the public mind of India might expand under the English system and through the English language. It may educate the people into a capacity for better governance. In the minute, Macaulay wrote, ―We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern-a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellects.‖ Thus, Macaulay anglicized  the education in India.

In his minute, Macaulay criticized the oriental learning as ―a single shelf of good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabic‖. Macaulay believed that English should be introduced because it is a language of the ruling class and higher classes of Indians have gained the familiarity.

During East India Company period there was a great demand for English education because it was attached with employment given by East India Company prior to it, British Government in England signed on charters in 1813 and reviewed in 1833. In 1813 the East India Company was compelled to accept responsibility for the education of the Indians. The government wanted the advice of Macaula‘s on the implications of clause 43 of the Charter Act of 1813. Macaula‘s presented his length minutes to Lord Bentick in 1835. In the minute, he advocated education of the classes in India and made a vigorous plea for spreading Western learning through the medium of English. This minute was accepted by Bentick and it opened a new chapter in the educational history of India

Wood’s Education Despatch-

The East India Company had to renew its Charter after every twenty years. Before renewing the Charter in 1853, the British Parliament constitutes a Selection Committee to enquiry into the Progress of education in India and suggests reform. The suggestions of the Committee were issued as a Charter of Education on July 19, 1854 Charles Wood was the president of the Board of Control. So this is known as Wood’s Despatch of 1854        Wood’s Education Despatch formed the basis of the education policy of East india company’s government in India since 1854. Drafted probably at the instance of Sir Charles Wood, President of the Board of control, it was forwarded to the Government of India as Despatch No 49 of 19 July 1854 for ‘creating a properly articulated system of education, from the primary school to the University’. The renewal of the Company’s Charter in 1853 provided the occasion for the despatch. As usual, a Select Committee of the House of Commons held a very thorough enquiry into educational situation in India. Often described as the ‘Magna Carta of modern education in India’, the despatch was one of the wisest state papers prepared by the COURT OF DIRECTORS. It was indeed a landmark in the history of education in modern India and presented a comprehensive plan for the later development of the educational system in the subcontinent.

Hunter Commission 1882.-

After the implementation of the recommendations of Woods Despatch, England entered the Victorian era.  Now the responsibility of Indian education shifted from the company to the Parliament. Queen Victoria wanted peace during her regime. Secondly Christian missionaries had made complaints against the Indian education administration on the ground that education in India was not in line with  Woods Despatch. In the third place, the Country Council Act of 1880 for reforming primary education had been passed in England and education in India was to be reformed on similar lines. Lastly, there were other issues like evaluation of the success of Government schools and the policy of the government with regard to the private enterprise, etc., that needed the attention of the government. Therefore, the same tradition of periodic revision of the policy of the education was adopted. When Lord Ripon was appointed the viceroy of India, a deputation of the General Council of Education requested him to institute an enquiry into Indian Education.. A landmark in the history of education in India is, however, the report of the Hunter Commission submitted in 1882. There were complaints that the Wood’s Dispatch of 1854 had not been properly followed. For this purpose Lord Ripon appointed on February 3, 1882 the Indian Education Commission under the chairmanship of William Hunter, a member of the executive council of viceroy.

The University Commission 1902-

Lord Curzon pointed out that no change had been seen in university education because they failed to follow the guidelines of London University.

Some of the major defects noticed in the development of collegiate education in India were lopsided development of liberal education and to the neglect of professional education in general and technical education in particular, uneven spread of higher education among different communities and followers of different sections, neglect of women education and Indian languages.

Hence it was considered worthwhile to go into various aspects of university education n India. Lord Curzon accorded the top priority to his programme of university reform. He appointed the Indian University Commission with Sir Thomas Raleigh as its Chairman in 1902. Indian members were also associated with the commissions in June of the same year. The commission’s recommendations of university education have been regarded merely rehabilitation and strengthening the existing system‘.

Development  in Education During 1921-1937-

The period (1921-37) is remarkable for two events the introduction of Government of India Acts 1919 and 1935. The first of these introduced diarchy in the provinces a sort of dual government and the second ushered in provincial Autonomy. Some subjects were under popular control and education was one of them. In 1935 all the subjects came under the control of provincial ministers and legislatures. They did their best to expand education to the utmost. The period 1921-37 is significant in the history of Indian education also because it witnessed a number of remarkable events. Laws, which governed universal primary education, were passed. Teaching and residential universities saw the light of the day. An auxiliary committee Simon Commission examined the 102defects of education in 1928. Wood and Abbot Committee on vocational education (1936-37) drew the attention of the public towards the inefficiency of literary education. This period was of great educational thinking in the field of primary education and secondary education. Intermediate education became linked with school education. In the field of higher education the progress was not less unmark able. The quantitative as well as qualitative improvement was exceptional.

The Inter-University Board came into existence as the result of a decision taken at the First conference of Vice-Chancellors in Simla in May 1924. At that time, India, Ceylon and Burma were its members. Today its membership consists of 47 Indian Universities, Universities of Ceylon and Five Indian institutes of Technology. In addition some institutions of the stature of a university are also its associate members. This institution has now been renamed as the Association of Indian Universities.

Establishment of New Universities-

In the field of higher education the progress was not less remarkable. The quantitative as well as qualitative improvement was exceptional. Perhaps it was because of the impact of the Calcutta University Commission (1917-19). Five new universities were created : Delhi (1922), Nagpur (1923), Andhra (1926), and Agra (1927); Travancore (1937). The number of teaching and residential universities increased. The older six universities were reorganized and reformed. For example, Madras University undertook teaching and research work. Bombay University undertook the charge of the school of Chemical  Technology; Allahabad University became a teaching and residential university. The enrolment figures rose up as a result of reform and reorganisation all the universities had Arts and Science faculties.

The medium of instructions continued to be in English. Hostel library and other facilities could not be expanded due to shortage of funds.

The Sadler Commission (Calcutta University Commission, 1917)-

After establishing three universities, namely University of Calcutta, University of Bombay and University of Madras in 1857, it was Lord Curzon who first tried to introduce some administrative reform of the university education (Unit 4) by instituting a University Education Commission in 1902. Academic reform, however, remained totally unattended. In the report of the Commission there was no proposal for establishing new universities. Curzon’s policy of shrinkage and control of higher education received widespread criticism among the nationalist Indians. After the establishment Allahabad University in 1887 no new universities were opened for the next thirty years, but the number of the Colleges increased. At the time of the Government of India Resolution in 1913 there were only five universities in India and the number of colleges was beyond the control of the various universities within their territorial limits. As a result different administrative problems piled up in that period. Sir Asutosh Mukherji was the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University. He started imparting post-graduate education in the university in 1916 as recommended by the University Education Commission of 1902. This has attracted the attention of the Government. By this time the London University was reorganised and reformed as per recommendations of the Royal Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Halden. Therefore it became a necessity to reform the Indian Universities also. All these circumstances led to the formation of the second university commission. i.e., Calcutta University Commission, 1917.

The Hartog Committee-

When the political movement was at its climax, the national leadership was trying hard to evolve a system of education which could suit the needs of the country By responding to the dissatisfaction felt by the Indian people about the Government of India Act of 1919, the Simon Commission was appointed on November 8, 1927, to inquire into the working of the administration under the Government of India Act, 1919. About this time as agitation against the Government was going on, it was felt necessary to give due importance to education in India. The Government therefore authorised the commission to appoint a Committee to help it in preparing a report on education. The Simon Commission appointed an Auxiliary Committee to enquire into the various aspects of Indian Education under the chairmanship of Sir Philip Hartog. So the commission appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Phillip Hartog to inquire into the conditions of education in India. Sir Phillip Hartog had served as a number of the Sadler Commission.

The Hartog committee was appointed to enquire the organisation of various aspects of education in India and to give its suggestions for its over all improvement and progress. In the words of the Committee, “They were required to report on the organisation of education, on almost every point that organisation needs reconsideration and strengthening, and the resolutions of the bodies responsible for the organisation of education need readjustment.”

The Committee studied the various aspects of education and submitted its report before the commission in 1929, It put forward comprehensive recommendations in regard to various facts of education in India. First, the Committee made some general observations regarding the state of education in India. The committee observed that there was considerable progress made in education by the time. In general, people regarded education as a matter of national importance. Increasing enrolment in primary school indicates that the sense of indifference to education was breaking down and social and political consciousness among the people had also increased. The women, the Muslims and the backward classes had also awakened and there had been rapid progress in the numbers. Although there was general consciousness of the people in education, the Committee was not satisfied with the growth of literacy in the country. With these ideas in view, the Committee presented a comprehensive report. It was valuable in the sense that it tried to feel the pulse of education in India. It made recommendations in regard to primary secondary, higher and also some other aspects of education.

The Wardha Scheme Of Education-

The Wardha Scheme of Education is also known as Nai Talim/Basic Education/Buniyadi Talim (Shiksha)/Basic Shiksha The scheme was the outcome of sound thinking of Ghandiji. who initiated and strengthened several constructive programmes for the economic, educational and social development of the people. He considered education as an effective instrument of national reconstruction.

Wardha scheme of Education 1937 recommended that it was considered desirable to give preference to local persons in appointment as teachers. It was considered necessary to appoint only trained teachers. Two types of curricula as enumerated below were provided for the training of the teachers.

For the first time in 1931 the Government of India invited Abbot, the Chief Inspector of Technical schools, and Wood, the Director of Intelligence, Board of Education, England to advise the Government whether any vocational or practical training should be imparted in primary, secondary and higher secondary schools or whether the technical or vocational institutions already in existence could be improved. The Government was advised to establish a Junior Technical school a part-time Technical school and school of Arts and Crafts in each province.

Abbort Wood Report 1937-

Abbort Wood Report 1937 recommended the establishment of a single polytechnic school where training in many vocations should be given, instead of special individual schools for the training in individually different vocations

The Sargent Report on Education,-

. In the middle forties the Government of India realised that it could no longer be indifferent to the problem of education of the Indian people and there was the need of bringing about radical reform in all aspects of Indian education. As the British became hopeful of its victory in the Second World War, it directed its attention to do something for the Indian people in the field of education. So it advised Sir John Sargent, the Educational Advisor to the Government of India, to prepare a comprehensive scheme of education for educational reform in India.

Education During Post Indepandeny India-

Universities are the seats of higher learning from where the society gets its leaders in Science, Arts and various other fields of national life. University education in India aims at providing knowledge and wisdom which are necessary attributes of a well developed personality. University education is a centre for higher branches of learning. The functions of the university are varied. It provides instruction, conduct research and post-graduate studies, and gives affiliation and extension to the colleges under it. In case of a non-affiliating unitary university, there is no college under it and its function is limited to offering masters programme and conducting research. A university’s scope is national in character. The main purpose of establishing a university in a particular region is to make higher education accessible to all sections of the population within its territorial jurisdiction

University Education Commission 1948: ( Radha Krishnan Commission)-

With the dawn of  independence on August 15.1947, emerged a new thinking to reform and recast a system of education which may meet the new challenges, new aspirations and new needs of Free India. The exercise of change started with the constitution of University Education Commission in 1948 with Dr. S. Radhakrishnan as its chairman.

The  Commission was appointed with the specific aim ‘to report on Indian University Education and suggest improvements and extensions that may be desirable to suit present and future requirements of the country’. The decision was due to the realization that a reconstruction of university education was essential for a national – cultural resurgence as well as for meeting the requirements of scientific, technical and other man – power which India needed for its socio-economic development in the wake of the independence in 1947.

Secondary education Commission ( Mudaliar Commission)-

After achieving the independence in 1947, both the public and the Government began to take keen interest in the development of secondary education. Although the number of secondary schools and its enrolment began to significantly increase even before India’s attaining independence, the quality of education imparted was unable to meet the changing socio-economic needs of the country. As such, the need for reform was strongly felt. The university Education Commission also remarked that our secondary education remained the weakest link in our educational machinery and it needed urgent reforms. Meanwhile with the attainment of independence, the political situation of the country also underwent a complete transformation. Education also needed a fresh look, calling for a new outlook which was appropriately voiced by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the then Education Minister in his presidential address to the Central Advisory Board of Education in 1948. The Central Advisory Board of Education at its 14th meeting held in January 1948 recommended the appointment of a commission to examine the prevailing system of Secondary Education in the country and to suggest measures for its reorganization and improvement

The Secondary Education Commission was appointed by the Government of India Resolution on 23rd September 1952 under the Chairmanship of Dr. A. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar, Vice-Chancellor, Madras University to examine the prevailing system of secondary education in the country and to suggest measures for its reorganisation and improvement with reference to the aims, organisation and content of secondary education, its relationship to primary and higher education and the interrelation of secondary schools of different types. The Commission was inaugurated on 6th October, 1952. It submitted its Report on June 1953.

Kothari Commission 1964.-

In the history of Indian Education, it is the first Commission to make a coordinated and comprehensive survey of all the branches of education.

The Commission was appointed under provision of a resolution of the Government of India, dated 14th July, 1964and it began its task on October 2,1964 . The Commission included eminent educationists in diverse fields from India and abroad. It consisted of total 17 members, where 14 members, 1 member – secretary, 1 Associate – Secretary and Dr. D.S. Kothari, chairman of the U.G.C. was appointed as the chairman of the commission. Therefore, it is also known as the Kothari Commission. Among the members of the commission 5 educationists were from England, America, France, Japan and Russia. J.P. Naik was appointed as number secretary of the commission and J.F McDougall as associated secretary. The Commission submitted its report to the Government on June 29,1966. It was laid on the Table of the House on August 29, 1966.The report of the Commission,  is a voluminous document of about 700 pages. It has been hailed as referred for all change and reform in Education. Although it is 20 years old, yet it maintains its fragrance and freshness. Even the new National Policy on Education (1986) has been mainly based on its recommendations. It is termed as Bible for Teachers‘ and should be read with flair.

The Commission will advice the Govt. on national pattern of education and on the general principles and policies for the development of education at all stages and in all its aspects. It need not, however, examine the problems of medical or legal education, but such aspects of these problems as are necessary for its comprehensive enquiry may be looked into.

All these three commission gave very pertinent, meaningful and relevant recommendations to provide new directions to the prevailing system of education in order to meet changing needs and aspirations of the society. Apart from bringing minor patches of change here and there, the structure and system of education remained where it was. The target of compulsory universal education  remained a dream. Vocationalisation of secondary education was only on papers. Revitalising the standards of education continued to be a slogan. Nothing was done to make education job oriented. The aims of higher  education were never defined or concretised. The students of universities and colleges after completion of their education, continued to be unsuccessful job-hunters.

Under this melee and dismal scenario of education, emerged a new thinking from our youthful Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi .Immediately, after taking over the reigns of the Government, he pledged to do something practically after evolving a new pattern of education through National Policy on Education. in August 1985, he came out with a document ―Challenge of Education  – a Policy perspective.‖ The emergence of this document was an important stage in the process of reviewing and reshaping the education system to enable it to meet the challenges of the future and also to improve its efficiency and quality. This document categorically stated that a policy takes concrete shape only in the process of implementation. If those involved with programme planning, resource allocation and the actual operation of the teaching learning process, do not understand their tasks or take these casually, no worthwhile results can accrue. This document successfully provided the basis for a nation-wide debate to formulate the new education policy.

Rammurthy Review Committee-

The committee to review the National Policy on Education 1986, was formed on 7thNovember 1990 with Acharya Ramamurthy as Chairman and sixteen others as members. This Committee‘s report bears the title ―Towards an Enlightened and Humane Society‖. The Committee was appointed to review the National Policy on Education 1986 and make recommendations regarding the revision of the policy and action necessary for implementation of the revised policy within a time-frame.

Present Scenario

The above analysis shows that even after 40 years of Independence, India is lagging behind in the field of education. The colonial legacy still dominates the education policy. Education in India, from the beginning has been catering to the needs of the selected group of the community. The common people, their needs and aspirations were never considered. There were attempts to change the education system whenever there was a Crisis in the economy. In the ancient, and post Independence periods it received the same type of treatment, which resulted in further inequalities in the society. This is partly a result of the way the policies have been formulated

.India as a geopolitical entity definitely came into existence on Aug 15, 1947 . It was freed of any foreign control on the date mentioned above, but India as its people in totality was not granted independence. Yet, looked at in the hindsight, the assumptions may be challenged. Every Indian citizen, of any class, creed or caste, was guaranteed liberty, equality and justice in its constitution that came into force in 1950. The English colonials went away, but the colonization remained, in essence, intact. The white sahib left, but the brown sahib took his place smoothly and the transition was complete. A postcolonial perspective of the things reveals that the discriminatory power structure was left intact and was strengthened in the years to come by those with vested interests. Class, religion and caste became the bases for a very rigid stratification of the Indian society. Social mobility was the only means, apart from a nearly impossible or hopelessly and vaguely distant revolution, to change one’s status.

The English had gone, but they had left behind their legacy, the whole political system of India, along with its institutions that ran the whole nation, beginning from district to national level. They had also left a class of rulers in their place that consisted of a very strong and irreplaceable bureaucracy. It was this “culture determining group, the so called elites of India, appeared to be even more powerful than the legislature or the judiciary. The one language that acted as the force binding all the persons in the upper echelons of this bureaucracy was English in both pre- and post-independence india. In India, those who ruled generally interacted in English. Moreover, English remained the official language of interdepartmental communication. Although, the constitution of India had specified 26 January 1965 as the date on which English would no longer be used as an official language of the new state. Since then, in spite of attempts to phase out English, practical difficulties in implementing the original constitutional mandate have convinced the successive governments to leave the status quo undisturbed.



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