Study notes on Evolution of higher learning &research in Pre-Independence India for UGC NET Paper 1

By Mohit Choudhary|Updated : September 16th, 2022

UGC NET Exam is conducted twice a year by NTA. There are ten units in Paper-1 and each unit has equal weightage in the examination. Most Important Topics in UGC NET Environment, Logical Reasoning, Teaching Aptitude, Research Aptitude, Communication, ICT, Higher Education.

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Evolution of higher learning and research in Pre-Independence India

After the downfall of the Muslim rule, The Britishers came to India as a trading company under the name of East India company. The British ruled India for more than two hundred years, the rule spanning from 1858- 1947.

  • The system of governance was instituted in the country in 1858 when the rule of the East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the name of Queen Victoria (who in 1876 was proclaimed Empress of India).
  • With the advent of the British, their policies were at odds with the rich legacies of traditional schools of learning which focussed on the overall development and value inculcation in the people. Their education policies were directed toward creating a class of subordinates. To achieve this goal, they instituted a number of acts to create an Indian version of English Education which were not for the betterment of Indians in any way.
  • In the beginning, the British came as traders with no intention of contributing to the Indian society through any efforts, later they felt the need to do something apart from the spiritual and classical educational upliftment of their subjects.
  • They wanted to win the sympathy and support of both Hindu and English communities; hence, the foundations of Madrasa were laid by Warren Hastings in Oct 1780. For Hindus, Jonathan Duncan founded the Banaras Sanskrit college in 1791.

There were various acts that were established for education and its development in India during British rule. Few of the important acts are as follows: -

1. The Charter Act of 1813: The charter act was renewed every 20 years in the British parliament. When it came for renewal in the year 1813, it directed the company to sanction one lakh rupees annually for promoting knowledge of modern sciences and encouraging the young Indians. A modest amount of one lakh rupees were allotted for the purpose.

  • There was an Anglicist- Orientalist Controversy. The Anglicist argued the education should be only for modern studies. The Orientalist, on the other hand, was of the opinion that western sciences were taught for the jobs, but the emphasis should be laid on the expansion of traditional Indian learning.

2. Lord Macaulay's Minutes (1835): The debate over the Orientalist and Anglicist question could not be solved even till the next charter act after 20 years, i.e. 1833. Then Lord Macaulay came to India on 10th June 1835, as law member of the Governor General's council. He was given the task to tell how to spend 10 lakh rupees per annum on education and also solve the controversy.

  • He gave his report in favour of the Angelist. He held the view "Indian Learning was inferior to European learning. English was made as to the medium of education in schools and colleges and opened a few of them instead of a large number of elementary schools.
  • The plan was to educate a small section of the upper and middle-class Indians creating a class "Indian in blood and colour but English in tastes, opinions and intellect".
  • This section of educated Indian would educate the masses through their ideas, and it will be called "Downward filtration theory".

3. Efforts of Thompson: James Thompson, lieutenant Governor of the Northwestern Provinces developed a comprehensive scheme of village education. In this scheme, useful subjects like mensuration and agriculture were taught.

4. Wood's despatch (1854): After the lapse of 20 years, the British parliament has to renew the charter act again. In the year 1854, Charles Wood prepared a despatch on the education system of India, which is considered as "Magna Carta of English Education in India." These were the few recommendations of the despatch: -

  • Stress on female and vocational education and teachers' training.
  • Laid emphasis on secular education
  • Recommended English as the medium of instruction for higher studies and vernaculars at the school level
  • It repudiated the downward filtration theory and asked the government to assume responsibility for the education of masses.
  • Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were set up in 1857, and later Department of Education was set up in all provinces.

5. Hunter Education Commission (1882-83): The previous schemes neglected primary and secondary education. The Primary and Secondary Education further suffered after 1870, due to the transfer of education to the provinces. A commission under W Hunter was set to review the progress of education in the country since the despatch of 1854. Few of the important recommendations were:-

  • Transfer of primary Education to newly set up district and municipal boards.
  • Recommended that the secondary education department should have two divisions (literary and vocational)

6. Indian University Act, 1904:- During the 20th century, the quality of education started deteriorating under private management. Nationalist accused the government of not doing anything to eradicate illiteracy. Consequently, in 1902 the Rayleigh Commission was set up to improve the working conditions of the Universities. The commission gave recommendations on the primary or secondary education through the Indian Universities Act, 1904. It was passed during the tenure of Lord Curzon.

7. Sadler University Commission (1917-19): - It was formed to report the problems in the Calcutta University and their recommendations were applicable to other universities also. Their observations were as follows:

  • 12-year school course
  • 3-years degree post the intermediate stage
  • Centralised functioning of the universities
  • Extended facilities for applied scientific and technological education, teacher's training and female education were emphasised.

8. Hartog Committee (1929): Due to a large number of schools and colleges had led to the deterioration of education standards. Hartog Committee suggested there should be a proper emphasis on primary education with no hasty expansion. Deserving students should get into high school while average students should be diverted to vocational courses after 8th standard.

9. Sergeant plan of education:- The Sergeant plan of education was given by the Central Advisory Board of Education in 1944. Its recommendations were:-

  • Pre-primary education for 3-6 years age group, free universal and compulsory Elementary Education for 6-11 years age groups.
  • Adequate technical, commercial and arts education
  • Abolition of intermediate course.

Therefore, education during the British era was always developed to suit the needs and demands of the British people and not to promote the development of the Indian people. They wanted to produce Indian people able to work for them and not for the development of their country.

Hope you guys now have a better understanding of the evolution of Higher Education in India. Keep visiting BYJU'S Exam Prep for more Exam-oriented Notes.

Thank You.

Team  BYJU'S Exam Prep


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