Subsequent Developments in the Field of Education

While renewing the Charter in 1833 the British Parliament increased the sum of money to one million yearly from the one lakh in 1813 to be spent on education in India. When the time for renewal came in 1853, education in India still suffered from many problems. A select committee of the British Parliament was set up in order to enquire into measures for their reforms. The suggestions of the committee formed the basis for the Wood’s Despatch.

Sir Charles Wood was the president of the Board of Control. Therefore, the declaration issued on July 19, 1854 was known as “Wood’s Despatch”, but the philosopher John Stuart Mill, a clerk of the company at that time, played a major part in drafting it. On the basis of the recommendations of the Wood’s Despatch, new educational policies were formed.

Wood’s Despatch

Aims and Objectives of Educational Policy

The Despatch emphasised upon the following objectives:

  • To impart Western knowledge, information about the western culture to the Indians
  • To educate the natives of India so that a class of public servants could be created
  • To promote intellectual development and also raise the moral character of the young generation
  • To develop practical and vocational skills of the Indians people so that more and more articles could be produced and also to create a good market for consumption of those goods.

The important steps for promoting and regulating education proposed in the Despatch were are follows:

  • Setting up a Department of Education: The Wood’s Despatch, recommended the creation of a Department of Public Instruction in each of the five provinces of Bengal, Bombay, Madras, the Punjab and the North Western provinces. The head of the Department would be called the Director and he was to be assisted by a number of inspectors.
  • Expansion of Mass Education: Another major recommendation of the Despatch was expansion of mass education. It was observed that the common people were deprived of educational opportunities and therefore much emphasis was given to the increase of setting up primary, middle and high schools.
  • Establishment of Universities: The Despatch recommended the establishment of universities in the three Presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. The universities were to be modelled after the London University and these were to have a senate comprising a Chancellor, a Vice-Chancellor, and fellows who were nominated by the Government. The Universities would confer degrees to successful candidates after they passed the examinations conducted by the Senate. The universities were to organise departments not only of English but also of Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian, as well as law and civil engineering.
  • Grant-in-aid system: The Wood’s Despatch recommended the sanction of a grant-in-aid in the Indian educational system. Grants were given to those schools and colleges which satisfied the conditions laid down. Grants were given to the schools for payment of salaries, construction of school buildings, granting scholarships, improving conditions of libraries, opening of science departments, etc.
  • Teaching of Language: The Wood’s Despatch gave importance to teaching of English, but at the same time, it also stressed upon the teaching of Indian languages.
  • Education of Women: The Despatch recommended that the government should support education for women. The Despatch also encouraged private enterprise to promote women education. The schools for girls were to be included among those to which grants-in-aid would be given.
  • Training of Teachers: The Wood’s Despatch recommended the establishment of teacher training schools in each of the provinces.
  • Professional Education: The Wood’s Despatch encouraged professional education. It recommended the establishment of medical, engineering law and other institutes of professional education.
  • Introduction of Network of Graded Schools all over India: It recommended the establishment of a network of graded schools all over the country. At one end were the universities and the colleges, then the high schools followed by the middle schools at the bottom of the network were the primary schools, both government and indigenous.


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