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Education System in India – Part 5 – Modern Education (British Rule)

Education in India during British Rule:

The modern Education system in India was Introduced by the British colonisers in the 1830s along with the English language which is credited to have been introduced in India by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay. As a founding member of India's ruling Supreme Council, Macaulay was chosen in 1834. The following four years were spent by Macaulay in India where he worked to modernise the country's penal code, give indigenous and British citizens equal legal standing, create a British-inspired educational system, and abolish traditional Indian teaching techniques. Macaulay favoured exclusively funding Western education and opposed funding for education in other cultures.

He pushed for the closure of all colleges that only taught Eastern philosophy and topics while also exposing Indians to concepts from the Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, and Enlightenment.

Macaulay was critical of the existing Indian culture, which he saw as stagnant and having fallen well behind the mainstream of European scientific and philosophical thought. He placed great value on Western culture.

Development of Vernacular Education

  • William Adam recognised problems with the system in his studies on vernacular education in Bengal and Bihar that were released in 1835, 1836, and 1838.

  • James Jonathan's experiments as lieutenant-governor of the North West Provinces (UP) from 1843 to 1853 included the creation of a normal school for teacher preparation for vernacular schools and one government school as a model school in each tehsildari.

  • In a well-known minute from 1853, Lord Dalhousie declares his unwavering support for a vernacular education.

  • In 1854, Wood's Despatch included the following requirements for vernacular education:

o standardisation

o Government oversight

o Teachers will receive their training in regular schools.

  • From 1854 through 1871, the government gave secondary and local language education a top priority. The number of vernacular schools has more than fivefold increased.

  • In 1882, the Hunter Commission advised that the state put extra effort towards developing and expanding vernacular education. The goal of mass education was to teach people how to communicate in common tongues.

  • Vernacular education was given priority in 1904 and received more financing as a result.

  • In 1929, the Hartog Committee provided a depressing picture of primary education.

  • Congress ministries promoted the opening of these institutions in 1937.

Technical Education in British Rule:

  • The Roorkee Engineering College was founded in 1847,

  • and the Calcutta College of Engineering was founded in 1856.

  • Overseers' School in Poona was elevated to the status of Poona College of Engineering and affiliated with Bombay University in 1858.

  • Madras University was affiliated with Guindy College of Engineering.

  • The establishment of a medical college in Calcutta in 1835 marked the beginning of medical education.

  • Lord Curzon contributed significantly to broadening the overall basis of professional courses—medicine, agriculture, engineering, veterinary sciences, and so on.

  • He founded an agriculture college in Pusa, which served as a model for similar institutions in other provinces.


  • Free primary education for 3-6 years age group.

  • Compulsory education for 6-11 years age group

  • High school to selected students of 11-17 years age group.

  • Improve technical, commercial, and arts education

  • Focus on teachers’ training, physical education, and education of mentally and physically handicapped.

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