“Britain Imitated Education Model of India,” Said East India Company!

By: Shreepal Singh

Today the Western world has a self-sustaining education system, which attracts best of the brains as scholars from around the world. After getting this education, most of these scholars are absorbed in the host country as a matter of well calculated policy. It is a brain-drain for the country sending these scholars. These highly educated and talented emigre contribute to the wealth of technology and economy of their adopted homeland and take their erstwhile host to ever newer height in our competitive world. This has been one of the chief reasons of their supremacy and empire.

But how did the western countries come to invent such a self-sustaining superb education system? The truth is they did not invent it; they simply copied it from India! Is it not a jingoistic nationalist claim on the part of India? No, it is stated so by the East India Company in 1823.

Just consider these facts. Before the end of World War II, the British empire had the leadership of the Western world. This empire led the path in many fields, including education, and the rest of the Western world followed in its footprints.

It was the British empire – following in the the footsteps of its precursor East India Company – that imitated its education system from the natives of India; and from the British empire it spread to other western countries, because of the utility of this Indian education model.

Here we are reproducing an extract from the report of one A. D. Campbell. Esq., The Collector of Bellary, Dated Bellary August 17, 1823, upon the Education of Natives. It reads thus:

“16. The economy with which children are taught to write in the native schools and the system by which the more advanced scholars are caused to teach the less advanced, and at the same time to confirm their own knowledge, is certainly admirable, and well deserved the imitation it has received in England. The chief defects in the native schools are the nature of the books and learning taught, and the want of competent masters.

“17. Imperfect, however, as the present education of the natives is, there are few who possess the means to command it for their children. Even were books of a proper kind plentiful, and the master every way adequate to the task imposed upon him, he would make no advance from one class to another, except as he might be paid for his labour. While learning the first rudiments, it is common for the scholar to pay to the teacher a quarter of a rupee, and when arrived as far as to write on paper, or at the higher branches of arithmetic, half a rupee per mensem. But in proceeding further, such as explaining books which are all written in verse, giving the meaning of Sanskrit words, and illustrating the principles of Vernacular languages, such demands are made as exceed the means of most parents. There is, therefore, no alternative but that of leaving their children only partially instructed, and consequently ignorant of the most essential and useful parts of a liberal education: but there are multitudes who cannot even avail themselves of the advantages of the system, defective as it is.

“18. I am sorry to state, that this is ascribable to the gradual but general impoverishment of the country. The means of the manufacturing classes have been of late years greatly diminished by the introduction of our own English manufactures in lieu of the Indian cotton fabrics. The removal of many of our troops from our own territories to the distant frontiers of our newly subsidized allies has also, of late years, affected the demand for grain; the transfer of the capital of the country from the native government and their officers, who liberally expended it in India, to Europeans, restricted by law from employing it even temporarily in India, and daily draining it from the land, has likewise tended to this effect, which has not been alleviated by a less rigid enforcement of the revenue due to the State. The greater part of the middling and lower classes of the people are now unable to defray the expenses incident upon the education of their offspring, while their necessities require the assistance of their children as soon as their tender limbs are capable of the smallest labour.

“19. It cannot have escaped the government that of nearly a million of souls in this District, not 7,000 are now at school, a proportion which exhibits but too strongly the result above stated. In many villages where formerly there were schools, there are now none and in many others where there were large schools, now only a few children of the most opulent are taught, others being unable from poverty to attend, or to pay what is demanded.

“20. Such is the state in this District of the various schools in which reading writing and arithmetic are taught in the vernacular dialects of the country, as has been always usual in India, by teachers who are paid by their scholars. But learning, though it may proudly decline to sell its stores, has never flourished in any country except under the encouragement of the ruling power, and the countenance and support once given to science in this part of India has long been withheld.

“21. Of the 533 institutions for education now existing in this District, I am ashamed to say not one now derives any support from the State.

“22. There is no doubt, that in former times, especially under the Hindoo Governments, very large grants, both in money and in land, were issued for the support of learning.

“23. Considerable alienations of revenue, which formerly did honour to the State, by upholding and encouraging learning, have deteriorated under our rule into the means of supporting ignorance; whilst science, deserted by the powerful aid she formerly received from Government, has often been reduced to beg her scanty and uncertain meal from the chance benevolence of charitable individuals; and it would be difficult to point out any period in the history of India when she stood more in need of the proffered aid of Government to raise her from the degraded state into which she has fallen, and dispel the prevailing ignorance which so unhappily pervades the land.” (Extracts from the report of A. D. Campbell, Esq., the Collector of Bellary, dated Bellary, August 17, 1823, upon the Education of Natives: pp. 503-504 of Report from Select Committee on the affairs of the East India Company, Vol. I., published 1832).

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