1902 Encyclopedia > India > Education

(Part 15)



The existing system of education in India is mainly dependent upon the Government, being directly organized by the state at least in its higher departments, assisted throughout by grante-in-aid, and under careful inspection. But at no period of its history has India been an altogether unenlightened country. The origin of the Deva-Nágari alphabet is lost in antiquity, though that is generally admitted not to be of indigenous invention. Inscriptions on stone and copper, the palm-leaf records of the temples and in later days like wide-spread manufacture of paper, all alike indicate, not only the general knowledge, but also the common use, of the art of writing. From the earliest times the caste of Bráhmans has preserved, by oral tradition as well as in MSS., a literature unrivalled alike in its antiquity and in the intellectual subtlety of its contents. The Mahometan invaders introduced the profession of the historian, which reached a high degree of excellence, even as compared with contemporary Europe. Through all changes of government vernacular instruction on its simplest form has always been given, at least to the children of respectable classes, in every large village. On the one hand, the tols or seminaries for teaching Sanskrit philosophy at Benares and Nadiyá recall the schools of Athens and Alexandria; on the other, the importance attached to instruction in accounts reminds us of the picture which Horace has left of a Roman education. Even at the present day knowledge of reading and writing is, owing to the teaching of Buddhist monks, as widely diffused throughout Burmah as it is in some countries of Europe. English efforts to stimulate education have ever been most successful when based upon the existing indigenous institutions.

During the early days of the East India Company’s rule the promotion of education was not recognized as a duty of Government. The enlightened mind of Warren Hastings did indeed anticipate his age by founding the Calcutta madrasa for Mahometan teaching, and by affording steady patronage alike to Hindu pandits and European students. But Wellesley’s schemes of imperial dominion did not extend beyond the establishment of a college for English officials. Of the Calcutta colleges, that of Sanskrit was founded in 1824, when Lord Amherst was governor-general, the medical college by Lord William Bentinck in 1835, the Hooghly madrasa by a wealthy native gentleman in 1836. The Sanskrit college at Benares had been established in 1791, the Agra college in 1823. Meanwhile the missionaries made the field of vernacular education their own. Discouraged by the official authorities, and ever liable to banishment or deportation, they not only devoted themselves with courage to their special work of evangelization, but were also the first to study the vernacular dialects spoken by the common people. Just as two centuries earlier the Jesuits at Madura, in the extreme south, composed works in tamil, which are still acknowledged as classical by native authors, so did the Baptist mission at Serampur, near Calcutta, first raise Bengáli to the rank of a literary dialect. The interest of the missionaries in education, which ahs never ceased to the present day, though now comparatively overshadowed by Government activity, had two distinct aspects. They studied the vernacular, in order to reach the people by their preaching and to translate the Bible; and they taught English, as the channel of non-sectarian learning.

At last the Government awoke to its own responsibility in the matter of education, after the long and acrimonious controversy between the advocates of English and vernacular teaching has worn itself out. The present system dates from 1854, being based upon a comprehensive dispatch sent only by Sir C. Wood (afterwards Lord Halifax) in that year. At that time the three universities were founded at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay; English-teaching schools were established in every district; the benefit of grants-in-aid was extended to the lower vernacular institutions and to girls’ schools; and public instruction was erected into a department of the administration in every province, under a director, with a staff of inspectors. In some respects this scheme may have been in advance of the time; but it supplied a definite outline, which has gradually been filled up with each succeeding year of progress. A network of schools has now been spread over the country, graduated from the indigenous village institutions up to the highest colleges. All alike receive some measure of pecuniary support, which is justified by the guarantee of regular inspection; and a series of scholarships at once stimulated efficiency and opens a path to the university for children of the poor. In 1877-78 the total number of educational institutions of all sorts in British India was 66,202 attended by an aggregate of 1,877,942 pupils, showing an average of one school to every 14 square miles, and nine pupils to every thousand to the population. In the same year was £1,612,775, of which £782,240 was contributed by the provincial government, £258,514 was derived form local rates, and £32,008 from municipal grants. These items may be said to represent state aid, while endowments yielded £37,218, subscriptions £105,853, and fees and fines £277,039. The degree in which education has been popularized and private effort has been stimulated may be estimated form the fact that in Bengal the total of voluntary payments now exactly balances the total of Government grants.

Universities.—The three universities of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay were incorporated in 1857, on the model of the university of London. They are merely examining bodies, composed of a chancellor, vive-chancellor, and senate, with the privilege of conferring degrees in arts, law, medicine, and civil engineering. The governing body, or syndicate, consists of the vice-chancellor and certain members of the senate. Quite recently a fourth university on the same plan, has been founded at Lahore for the Punjab. Though not themselves places of instruction, the universities control the whole course of higher education by means of their examinations. The entrance examination for matriculation is open to all; but when that is passed candidates for higher stages must enrol themselves in one or other of the affiliated colleges. In the ten years ending 1877-78 9686 candidates successfully passed the entrance examination of Calcutta, 6381 at Madras, and 2610 at Bombay. Many fall off at that stage, and very few proceed to the higher degrees. During the same ten years 952 graduated B.A., and only 254 M.A., with honours, at Calcutta; 496 B.A. and 14 M.A. at Madras; 217 B.A. and 28 M.A. at Bombay. Calcutta possesses by far the majority of graduates in law and medicine, while Bombay is similarly distinguished in engineering. In 1877-78 the total expenditure on the four universities was £22,093.

The colleges or institutions for higher instruction may be divided into two classes,—those which teach the arts course of the universities, and those devoted to special branches of knowledge. According to another principle, they are classified into those entirely supported by Government and those which only receive grants-in-aid. The latter class comprises the missionary colleges. In 1877-78 the total number of colleges, including medical and engineering colleges and Mahometan madrasas, was 82, attended by 8894 students. Of these, 35 colleges with 3848 students were in Bengal proper, and 21 colleges with 1448 students in Madras. In the same year the total expenditure on the colleges was £186,162, or at the rate of £21 per student.

Boys' Schools.—This large class includes many varieties, which may be subdivided either according to the character of the instruction given, or according to the proportion of Government aid they receive. The higher schools are those in which not only is English taught, but that language is also the medium of instruction. They educate up to the standard of the entrance examination at the universities, and train generally those candidates who seek employment in the upper grades of Government service. As far as possible one of these schools, known as the zilá or district school, is established by Government at the head-quarters of every district, and many others receive grants-in-aid. The middle schools, as their name implies, are intermediate between the higher and the primary schools. Generally speaking, they are placed in the smaller towns and larger villages, and they provide that measure of instruction which is recognized to be useful by the middle classes themselves. Some of them teach English, but others only the vernacular. This class includes the tahsíli schools, established at the headquarters of every tahsíl or subdivision in the North-Western Provinces. In 1877-78 the total expenditure on both higher and middle schools was £478,250. The lower and primary schools complete the series. They present every degree at efficiency, from the indigenous and unaided village school to the vernacular schools in the presidency capitals. Their extension is the chief test of the success of the educational system. No uniformity prevails in this matter throughout the several provinces. In Bengal up to the last few years primary instruction was sadly neglected, but, since the reforms inaugurated by Sir G. Campbell in 1872, by which the benefit of the grant-in-aid rules was extended to the páthsálás or village schools, this reproach has been removed. In 1871-72 the total number of primary schools under inspection was only 2451, attended by 64, 779 pupils. By 1877-78 the number of schools had risen to 16,042, and the number of pupils to 360,322, being an increase of about sixfold in six years. In the latter year the total expenditure from all sources was £78,000, towards which Government contributed only £27,000, thus showing how state aid stimulates private outlay. The North-Western Provinces owe their system of primary instruction to their great lieutenant-governor, Mr Thomason, whose constructive talent can be traced in every department of the administration. In addition to the tahsíli or middle schools already referred to, he drew up a scheme for establishing halkabandi or primary schools in every central village (whence their name), to which the children from the surrounding hamlets might resort. His scheme has since been largely developed by means of the educational cess added to the land revenue. In Bombay the primary schools are mainly supported out of local funds raised in a similar manner. In British Burmah, on the other hand, primary education is still left to a great extent in the hands of Buddhist monks, who receive no pecuniary support from Government. The monastic schools are only pne to boys, but there are also lay teachers who admit girls to mixed classes. Government has hardly any schools of its own in Burmah, the deficiency being supplied by several missionary bodies, who obtain state aid. In many parts of the Madras presidency, also, the missionaries possess a practical monopoly of education at the present day. In 1877-78 the amount of money expended upon lower and primary schools in British India money expended upon lower and primary schools in British India was £406,135, or just one-fourth of the total educational budget.

Girls' Schools.—Of late years something has been done, though not much, to extend the advantages of education to girls. In this, as in other educational matters, the missionaries have been the pioneers of progress. In a few exceptional places, such as Tinnevelli in Madras, the Khásí hills of Assam, and among the Karen tribes of Burmah, female education has a real existence, for in these places the missionaries have influence enough to overcome the prejudices of the people. But elsewhere, even in the large towns and among the English-speaking classes, all attempts to develop the intelligence of women are regarded with scarcely disguised aversion. Throughout the North-Western Provinces, with their numerous and wealthy cities, and a total female population of 15 millions, only 6550 girls attended school in 1877-78. In Bengal, with just double the inhabitants, the corresponding number was less that 12,000. Madras, British Burmah, and to a small degree Bombay and the Punjab, are the only provinces that contribute to the following statistics in any tolerable proportion:—Total girls’ schools in 1877-78, 2002; number of pupils, 66,615; mixed schools for boys and girls, 2955; pupils, 90,915; total amount expended on girls’ schools, £78,729, of which 27,000 was devoted to the 12,000 girls of Bengal.

Normal and other Special Schools, &c.—In 1877-78 the normal and technical schools numbered 155, with a total of 6864 students, the total expenditure was £54,260, or an average of nearly £7 per student. School mistresses, as well as masters, are trained in these institutions; and there are also the missionaries have shown themselves active in anticipating a work which Government subsequently took up. Of schools of art, the oldest is that founded by Dr A. Hunter at Madras in 1850, and taken in charge by the Education Department in 1856. This school, as also those at Calcutta and Bombay, has been very successful in developing the industrial capacities of the people, and training workmen for public employment. Museums have been established at the provincial capitals and many other large towns. Schools for European and other foreign races have also attracted the attention of government. In 1877-78 the number of such institutions was 104, with 9121 pupils; the expenditure from all sources was £80,197, or an average of nearly £9 per pupil. Foremost among these are the asylums for the orphans of British soldiers, established at hill stations (e.g. Utakamand and Sanáwar) in memory of Sir Henry Lawrence.

Newspapers and Books.—Closely connected with the subject of education is the steady growth of the vernacular press, which is every busy issuing both newspapers and books. The missionaries were the first to cast type in the vernacular languages, and to employ native compositors. The earliest newspaper was the Bengáli Sámáchar Darpan, which was issued in 1835 by the Baptist Mission at Serampur. For many years the vernacular press preserved the marks of its origin, by being limited almost absolutely to theological controversy. The missionaries continued their work; and they were encountered with their own weapons by the theistic sect of the Bráhman Samáj, and also by orthodox Hindus. So late as 1850 the majority of newspapers were still sectarian rather than political, but during the last twenty years the vernacular press has gradually risen to become a powerful engine of political discussion. The number of newspapers regularly published in the several vernacular at the present time is said to reach the formidable total of 230. The aggregate number of copies issued is estimated by Mr Roper Lethbridge at about 150,000; but the circulation proper, that is, the actual number of readers, is infinitely larger. In Bengal the vernacular press suffers from the competition of English newspapers, some of which are entirely owned and written by natives. In the north-west, form Lucknow to Lahore, about 100 newspapers are printed in Hindustáni or Urdu, the vernacular of the Mahometans throughout India. Many of these are conducted with considerable ability and enterprise, and may fairly be described as representative of native opinion in the large towns. The Bombay journals are almost equally divided between Marathí and Guzerathi. Those in the former language are characterized by the traditional independence of the race of Sivají; those in the latter language are the organs of the Pársis and of the trading community. The newspapers of Madras printed in Tamil and Telugu are politically important, being still for the most part devoted to religion.

As regards books, or rather registered publication, in the vernacular languages, Bengal takes the lead; while the Punjab, Bombay, the North-Western Provinces, and Madras follow in order. In 1877-78 the total number of registered publications was 4890, of which 544 were in English 3064 in one of the vernaculars, 719 in a classical language of India, and 563 bilingual. Of the vernacular works, 709 dealt with religion , 663 with poetry and the drama, 330 with language, 195 with science, 181 fiction, 146 with law, and 95 with medicine.1


776-1 In the preparation of the administrative sections and statistics, the writer specially acknowledges the assistance of Mr J.S. Cotton.

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