October 15, 2017

Did the British educate India and if yes, how much?

MY NOTEs: this is about the recent 200-300 years and not education system 1000-2000 years ago. I am aware of India's glorious past and its contribution to science, medicine and technology. But every civilisation goes through ups and downs so while we had the oldest university in India (Nalanda), today we don't have a single university in the world's best 100 or 200.


Far from wanting to colonise the minds of their new subjects, most founders of British rule were fascinated by India’s traditional arts and crafts and keen to explore the wonders of its classical past. The tone was set by the first Governor-General, Warren Hastings, who mixed freely with Indians, was fluent in two vernacular languages, Hindustani and Bengali, and also spoke some Persian, then the court language of the Mughal Empire.

some nationalist historians have argued that before the British uprooted “the Beautiful Tree”, every village in Bengal, Madras and Bombay had a school, with pupil attendance rates higher than in contemporary England. But what such statistics disguised was the very primitive schooling on offer in Indian village schools, the absence of printed books and the withdrawal of children before they reached the level of literacy.


ACCORDING TO THE Delhi-based historian Aparna Basu, the decline in Indian educational standards dated back to the mid-1700s,  ... ‘The village patshalas,’ she writes, ‘were often housed in shabby dwellings and taught by ill-qualified teachers… There was no fixed class routine, timetable or school calendar. There was no annual examination.’


Higher education fared much better under Macaulay’s reforms. Even at the height of the Mutiny of 1857, Governor- General Canning bravely went ahead with his plans to establish universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. Other cities followed suit; and the numbers of new colleges and college students multiplied rapidly, egged on by a wave of philanthropic endowments by Indian princes and newly enriched business magnates. By 1890, the number of Indians in higher education had risen to 60,000, mainly in the liberal arts and law.

Read more at http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/essay/did-britain-educate-india

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