Higher Education System Updated UGC NET Paper 1 Study Material

5. The Middle Age – Education in Medieval India (8th Century to 15th Century)
The time period between the 8th and 10th centuries saw the rise of many powerful kingdoms and dynasties that added glory to the Indian landscape.The Palas, Senas, Pratiharas, Rashtrakutas and Cholas promoted learning, arts and literature wholeheartedly. It was during the reign of Palas when the famous Nalanda University was brought back to its former splendor and Vikramshila University took birth as well.
The Middle Age in Indian history was a rather dynamic time when numerous trade routes and foreign invasions colored the Indian subcontinent. Customs, cultures and traditions of Arab and Central Asian region mingled with those of the Indian inhabitants over the years.
This started with the development of trade relations in southern India. Arab mariners had established trade routes and with the passage of time, married with the local residents. Then came the time when India faced invasion from strong invaders like Mahmud of Ghazni and Mohammed Ghori. These invaders were known to plunder the wealth and riches of whichever region they attacked and destroyed everything they possibly could. Temples, idols, villages, property; everything was massacred. The great ancient libraries and universities were burnt down with most of the manuscripts burnt to ashes. And thus began the Muslim rule in India.
The earlier Brahmanic scripts and languages were slowly replaced by Arabic and Persian in prominence. It was the time when Urdu took birth in the cradle of the Delhi Sultanate. Even though the earlier educational system in India was advanced and very futuristic in approach, it was the Muslim system of education which brought about the organization of learning into a proper system of schooling, comprising of primary and advanced levels of studies.
Primary education was imparted in schools known as maktabs and secondary and advanced language skills were taught in secondary schools known as madrasahs. In fact, Iltutmish, a prominent ruler of the Slave Dynasty was the founder of madrasahs in Delhi. These institutes of learning received patronage and special grants from Muslim rulers & emperors at the time. Like the ancient system of Indian education, institutes of Muslim education were also attached to Mosques where basic skills like reading, writing and reciting the holy Quran were taught. Apart from this, subjects like art, medicine, law and administration were also taught.  With time, universities sprouted in the cities of Lucknow, Allahabad and Delhi.
Just like the Vedic times, teachers and students shared a very close bond with each other with the exception that they did not stay together. Knowledge was imparted to students in a way befitting parents’ love, liberal and strict at the same time.
Girls and women were keen learners too, but had to bear the orthodoxy of society at that time. Though Islam never opposed or barred them from gaining education, their education was restricted unto a certain level after which they had to stop. Only women belonging to higher strata of society could afford the luxury of learning more in the vicinity of their homes.
Each ruler contributed his bit during the medieval age for the betterment of learning among the classes and masses, but it was definitely the Mughals, especially Akbar, who saw Muslim education reach its zenith in India.

6. Pre-British Era (Late 15th Century to Early 18th Century)
This was the time before the advent of British rule in India. If we brush up our history a little bit, British India was preceded by a time when foreign powers in modern times included the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French. Where contribution of the Dutch in Indian education was less and more towards its South East Asian colonies, the Portuguese and French had given their bit in a very significant way.
The beginning of modern education started with the missionaries who migrated to India as the Portuguese begun setting up their colonies there. The missionaries with a wish to convert the native Indians into Christianity started with teaching small children along the streets. As time passed, these schools were attached to Churches and missionary offices.
Portuguese pattern of education began to manifest itself in the form of primary schools, orphanages teaching vocational skills and a few colleges and a university. Primary education was of utmost importance, hence more number of such schools. Knowledge in these times was dispensed in Portuguese and Latin languages. Then came in the French in 17th century who formed their stronghold as the French East India Company. This company too adopted the pattern of education along similar lines of the Portuguese, but they extended their reach of teaching and learning beyond the borders of religion. They even set up institutions in Mahe, Pondicherry, Madras, Chandernagore and Karikal.
Secondary schools were set up at some places to impart higher learning. Things were going pretty good until the British finally staked their claim on the Indian subcontinent in the 1600s, slowly and steadily.

7. The British Era

It is generally accepted that the current university system in India is a creation of the British colonialist influence. The East India Company did not make any attempt to impose a western system of education on its Indian subjects for a long time .The East India Company’s charter of 1698 had directed the company to maintain schools. St. Mary’s Charity School, was started in Madras in 1715. In 1725, European Christian Missionaries had established seventeen schools for the children of the heretics (Hindus) and Muslims and four missionary schools for the Christian. In 1804, the London Missionary society established English schools in Ceylon, Southern India and Bengal. This was the beginning of western education in India. Establishment of these primary schools led towards the demand for the establishment of institutions for higher education.

i.  Due to the efforts of the committee of Public Instruction by Charter of 1813, two Sanskrit colleges one at Calcutta, in 1824 and the other at Delhi in 1825, were established.

ii. To satisfy the popular demands of Indians, Sanskrit College at Banaras and the Agra College were established in 1818.

iii.  The Wood’s dispatch 1854, recommended the establishment of universities in presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.

iv. Lord Ripon appointed the Indian Education Commission on 3rd, February, 1882 with Hunter as the Chairman. The commission is popularly known as Hunter Commission.
The recommendations of Hunter Commission were:
(a) The commission recommended the withdrawal of govt. from direct enterprise in the field of higher education.
(b) While giving grants-in-aid to the colleges, the number of teachers, expenditure of the college, efficiency of the college and local needs must be kept in mind.
(c) Special grants should be provided for establishing furnished Libraries, reading rooms, Science rooms, scientific apparatus and other educational equipments , building and furniture etc.
(d)  Such varied and vast curriculum should be arranged so that students must have the subjects of their choice.
(e)  The commission recommended the establishment of a university for N.E.F.P.
(f) Meritorious and promising students should be sent to foreign countries for higher education on scholarships.
(g) To raise the moral standard of the students a moral text book based upon the principles of human religion should be compiled and used in all colleges.
English Higher Education in India really began with the establishment of a Hindu College in Calcutta in 1817, the first “Europeanized” institution of higher learning in the country. In fact, the present system of higher education in India has its roots in Mountstuart Elphinstone’s minute of 1823 in which he pressed for the establishment of schools for teaching English and the European Sciences. Subsequently, Macaulay, in his minute of 1835 stated that the objective of the British government ought to be “the promotion of European literature and science amongst the natives of India.” But from 1813 to 1835, there was continual controversy between the orientalists and the western school. The orientalists had the upper hand so no government support was available for English teaching hence, it had to be undertaken by private enterprise. Two conflicting influences were perceptible in the earliest efforts to introduce western learning to India, the influence of a semi–rationalist school concerned to foster secular training, and sympathetic with corresponding movements in England, and the missionaries for whom English Education was mainly important as a vehicle for religious teaching (Report of the Calcutta University Commission). As a result, in January 1835 when the rival pleas of the two groups were submitted to the Governor-General in Council for decision, Macaulay, as a member of the Council, recorded his opinion in the Minute in the following words. Macaulay reflects the view that English education was necessary for the Indian Higher education system. On the other hand, McCully (1940) reported that Indians increasingly demanded an English style of higher education because it provided prestigious jobs in the British bureaucracy or in the growing commercial sector of the economy. Hence, the British themselves were convinced that they needed a class of educated Indians at the secondary level posts in the Government and to act as intermediaries between the Raj and the Indian population. Similar views have been expressed by Basu – that English education was wanted by the Indian urban elite, not only for employment and careers but also because it spread the western secular education’s special role in the social and political regeneration of India towards self-rule. The elite were the beneficiaries of this system and have had a vested interest in its continuation. The idea of establishing universities in India on the model of the London University (i.e. universities of the affiliating type), was first promoted in Sir Charles Wood’s Dispatch of 1854 which has been described as the Magna Carta of English education in India . It described the aim of education in India as the diffusion of Arts, Science, Philosophy and Literature of Europe, and the study of Indian Languages. These recommendations also included Law, Medicine and Engineering and were followed by the establishment of universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in 1857 following the model of the University of London. Both Macaulay’s Minute of 1835 and Wood’s Dispatch of 1854 laid down the basic objectives for the development of English Education in India. Moreover, Curzon’s University reform represents a climax in the official attitude against the spread of higher education which had been developing since the mid 1850s. Curzon’s Government was the first to apply a check to free enterprise in education. It introduced a system of control which extended to all grades of institutions from primary schools to universities. In fact, Curzon shifted the emphasis from the education of few to that of the many. Twenty-five years after the establishment of the first three universities, there had been an increase in the number of colleges from 27 to 75. There was a demand for more universities and by 1923, there were 12. There was a steady growth in subsequent years and by 1943 a need was felt for a comprehensive plan of educational development. The Sargent Report of 1944 was the first attempt to formulate a national Policy on Education in India. It pointed out the failure of making university education relevant to community needs and suggested means for improvement. However, by the time India became independent, in 1947, it had 18 universities and total student strength of a little less than 0.2 million. In brief, higher education in colonial India remained concentrated in and around the cities and towns and was more widespread among men than women and amongst the higher castes. It would have been almost impossible to find a rural scheduled caste or scheduled tribe woman studying in a college. There were serious inequalities in the colonial system of higher education.

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