Education policy of the British: In pre-British days Hindus and Muslims were educated through Pathsala and Madrassa respectively. Britishers showed no interest in advancement of learning in the first stage of their rule in India. Some of the Britishers in personal endeavor and for political gain showed some interest in spreading education. Warren Hastings, Governor-General of Bengal showed keen interest in spreading oriental education in which effort Jonathan Duncan, Nathani Halhead, Sir William Jones, joined hands. Sir William Jones, the Justice Calcutta High Court, established Asiatic Society at Calcutta (1784 A.D.). Here they started research on oriental education and culture. At the time of Lord Wellesley Fort William College was established (1800 A.D.). Here the British Civilians were taught Indian languages, laws, customs, religion, geography etc. By endeavor of Wilkins Jones, Colebrook, William Carey this oriental education got a foothold.
Endeavour of the Christian Missionaries: British colonial ruler did not show any interest in education. The Christian Missionaries were the first to come forward. The Baptist Missionary William Carey came to India in the year 1793 A.D. He along with his friends established Baptist Mission in Serampore (1800 A.D.). By their enthusiasm many primary schools came up in nearly places.
They established a printing press and stilled printing booklets in Bengali. Carry translated the Ramayana in English (1800 A.D.) By his inspiration the Bible was translated in different Indian languages and Halhead’s Bengali Grammar’s new edition was published. By their zeal an English school was established in Serampore in 1818 A.D. That is now known as Serampore College.
Personal Endeavour: At that time by the attempt of few liberal Indians and foreigners non-government schools were founded to spread English education. Out of them most memorable were Raja Rammohan Roy, Raja Radhakanta Deb, Tejchandra Rai Bahadur of Burdwan, David Hare, the watchmaker of Scotland. Raja Rammohan Roy was the father of modern India. By his own endeavor he established Anglo Hindu School in 1815 A.D. By personal endeavor two English schools were founded in Chinsurah (1800 A.D.) and Bhawanipur (1848 A.D). Few energetic Indians and high-minded English civilians came forward to establish Hindu College in Calcutta in the year 1817 A.D. This is now the famous Presidency College.
Endeavour of the government: In the Charter Act of 1813, Rupees one lakhs per year was sanctioned for advancement of education in India. Now there was a debate about the line of expenditure of this amount. Some said that it should go for oriental education; the others said that the sum was to be spent for English education. Raja Rammohan Roy was in favour of spending the money in western education. But that was not done. The General Committee of Public Instruction (1823 A.D.) decided to spend the money on oriental studies. In 1823 A.D. the decision was taken to establish a Sanskrit College at Calcutta. Rammohan opposed this decision.
During the rule of Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835 A.D.) there was change in government’s education policy. He appointed Thomas Babington Macaulay, a renowned educationist, the chairman of the Committee of Public Instruction. At that time the committee was divided in the issue of Oriental or European education. Princep, Colebrook, Wilson were the supporters of Oriental education. They were known as Orientalist. But people like T.B. Macaulay were the supporters of European education. He had with him Alexander Duff, Sanders, Colvin etc. at his side. They became known as Anglicists. Macaulay presented a proposal of advancement of English education in 1835 A.D. This was known as Macaulay minutes.
- He expressed his strong opinion in favour of English education, as he thought that oriental culture was defective, unholy and corrupted.
- He thought that it would be better to give proper teaching to a small number of upper and middle-class students as a law of infiltration it would reach to more number of people. This law was known as infiltration theory.
- He opined that a shelf of Europeans library was equal to the whole literature of India and Arab. Practically, this opinion was the result of his complete ignorance and blind nationalism.
- He wanted to create a good number of black Europeans who would support the British government. The government approved the Macaulay proposal and after that by the government the education English language and science started spreading very quickly. It was in the same year (1835 A.D.) Calcutta Medical College and Elphinstone College at Bombay were established. During the time of Lord Auckland (1836-1842 A.D.) government sanctioned more money for propagating Anglicized education.
In 1842, the Public Instruction Committee was rejected and Council of Education was formed. Few Indian members were taken in this Council. Charles Wood’s recommendation in the question of spreading of higher education was very important. He was the Chairman of the Board of Control. His proposal about education was known as Wood’s despatch. He gave instruction to regularize the education system from primary stage to University level. He also instructed to educate pupils in both English and Vernacular. By his recommendation Education Department was established. In 1857 A.D. Calcutta, Bombay and Madras Universities were established.