INTRODUCTION TO THE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY COMMISSION (1917-1919)

 

UNIT STRUCTURE

1. Learning Objectives
2. Introduction
3. Need of setting up the Commission
4. Appointment of the Commission
5. Terms of Reference of the Commission
6. Report of the Commission
7. Recommendations of the Commission on Secondary Education

1. Recommendations on Intermediate Stage
2. Recommendations on University Education
3. Recommendations on Calcutta University
4. Other Recommendations
8. An Evaluation of the Recommendations of the Commission
9. Result of Recommendations of the Commission
10. Let Us Sum Up
11. Further Readings
12. Answers to Check Your Progress
13. Possible Questions
14. References

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

 
After going through this unit, you will be able to:
know the necessity for setting up the Calcutta University Education Commission,
Familiar with the Terms of Reference of the Commission,
Explain commissions recommendations regarding Secondary Education,
Describe recommendations on Intermediate Education,
Explain recommendations on University Education and Calcutta University
Assess the recommendations of the Commission, and
Analyse the result of the recommendations.

INTRODUCTION


In the previous unit, we have discussed Gokhale’s Bill on primary education and the Government of India Resolution 1913 on education. The Resolution recommended that a university should be established in each province, teaching activities of the universities should be encouraged and colleges located in mofussil towns should be developed into teaching universities in due course of time. The outbreak of the First World War (1914-1919) however, delayed the development planned in the resolution as the Government had to concentrate its attention and energy over the war. After the war was over, the Government appointed the Calcutta University Commission in 1917 mainly to look into the affairs of Calcutta University, yet in its report it deals with different aspects of education. In this unit we will discuss the necessity for appointing the commission, its recommendations on different spheres of education along with an assessment of the recommendations and the result.
 

NEED FOR THE SETTING UP OF THE COMMISSION



First, we shall discuss the necessity for setting up the Calcutta University Commission of 1917.

We know that after establishing three universities, namely University of Calcutta, University of Bombay and University of Madras in 1857, it was Lord Curzon who first tried to introduce some administrative reform of the university education (Unit 4) by instituting a University Education Commission in 1902. Academic reform, however, remained totally unattended. In the report of the Commission there was no proposal for establishing new universities. Curzon’s policy of shrinkage and control of higher education received widespread criticism among the nationalist Indians. After the establishment Allahabad University in 1887 no new universities were opened for the next thirty years, but the number of the Colleges increased. At the time of the Government of India Resolution in 1913 there were only five universities in India and the number of colleges was beyond the control of the various universities within their territorial limits. As a result different administrative problems piled up in that period. Sir Asutosh Mukherji was the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University. He started imparting post-graduate education in the university in 1916 as recommended by the University Education Commission of 1902. This has attracted the attention of the Government. By this time the London University was reorganised and reformed as per recommendations of the Royal Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Halden. Therefore it became a necessity to reform the Indian Universities also. All these circumstances led to the formation of the second university commission. i.e., Calcutta University Commission, 1917.

APPOINTMENT OF THE COMMISSION


Let us see how the commission was appointed.

The Government actually felt the necessity of investigating into the affairs of university education in 1914. Accordingly, a proposal was taken to reform the Indian Universities under the leadership of Lord Halden. But the proposal was not carried into affect due to the outbreak of the First World War Towards the fag end of the war, the Government of India took up the matter again. In 1917 the Government appointed the Calcutta University Commission to study and report on the problem of university education. The commission is also known as the Sadler Commission after the name of its chairman Dr. Michael E. Sadler, the Vice Chancellor of the university of Leeds. The other members of the Commission were Dr. Gregory, Prof. Ramsay Muir, Sir Hartog, Dr. Horniel, Dr. Zia Uddin Ahmed and Sir Asutosh Mukerji. Sir Asutosh Mukerji was the most influential member of the commission. It is said that most of the recommendations of the commission were patterned on his views.


TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE COMMISSION


The commission was mainly constructed with the express motto “to enquire into the condition and prospects of the university of Calcutta and to consider the question of a constructive policy in relation to the question it presents”. Thus the commission was required to examine the condition and workings of the Calcutta University and suggest measures for its reforms.

CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


1. Fill in the blanks :
i) The Calcutta University Commission was appointed in the year __________.
ii) The chairman of the Commission was __________.
iii) He was the Vice Chancellor of the University of __________.
iv) The Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University was __________.
v) The commission submitted its report on __________.
vi) The main objective of the commission was to enquire into the condition and working of __________.
b) What technique will you use to find out the median mental age of 8 students. 7, 10, 6, 8, 13, 9, 10, 11? Find out the median



REPORT OF THE COMMISSION


Now we shall discuss the recommendations of the commission in different spheres of education.

The commission visited all the university centres and after 17 months submitted its report in 1919. It is a very long and significant report. The report consist of 13 volumes, giving a critical and comprehensive survey of educational problems of secondary, collegiate and university education in India. Although it deals with the Calcutta University only, the problem that it studied were more or less common to the other Indian Universities also. The suggestions, therefore, were equally applicable to other universities in the country. Hence, the report of the commission had far reaching consequences upon the development of university education in India as a whole. The commission made recommendations in regard to university secondary, women and professional education. It also recommended the establishment of an Inter University Board for coordinating the activities of different Indian Universities. Let’s discuss the recommendations of the commission under different heads.



Secondary Education


The commission has made discussion in detail about secondary education. Secondary and higher education are interlinked and secondary education is the basis of higher education. In the opinion of the Commission it is not possible to bring about revolutionary changes in the field of higher education without making changes in secondary education. Therefore, some fundamental changes were suggested in the secondary education for the sake of improving the university education. The commission recommended that the dividing line between the university and the secondary courses should be drawn at the Intermediate examination rather than at the Matriculation and the Government should create a new type of institution called Intermediate Colleges”. Now we shall discuss the existing defects of the secondary education system and then proceed to suggestions for reforms.

A. Defects of Secondary Education:
The commission has drawn attention to the following defects of secondary education—
The secondary schools are suffering from lack of educational tools and equipment.
Secondary education has become narrow because of being over influenced by matriculation examination.
The fundamental defect of secondary education is dearth of suitable teachers.
Most of the teachers are untrained.
The teachers are paid very poorly and it is difficult to procure efficient teachers with poor salary.
The secondary schools are not inspected periodically and they are not given useful suggestions for their improvement.
Most of the secondary schools are suffering from financial difficulties.
The secondary schools are under the double control of university and the Government, and there is difference between university and the Government regarding their own area of control and administration.


B. Suggestions for Reform:

The commission realised that it is necessary to reorganise secondary education in order to give a desirable direction to university education. Therefore after pointing out the defects, the commission offered the following suggestions for reform—

 
The first essential thing for the improvement of secondary education is the supply of necessary funds. The commission recommended sanctioning of 40 lacs of rupees annually for the purpose.
The medium of instruction in the secondary schools should be the mother tongue.
The curriculum of secondary schools should be diversified.
A Board of Secondary and Intermediate education should be established in each province.
The Board should be constituted with representative of the Government, the university, the secondary schools and the intermediate colleges.
It should be entrusted with the administration and control of secondary education and intermediate education.
Majority of the members should be non-official. It should represent both the Hindus and the Muslims.
The Board of Secondary and Intermediate education will be an autonomous body and will be free from official interferences.



Recommendations on intermediate stage


We must keep in our mind that the Commission recommendation of opening an intermediate stage is a completely new concept in the field of Indian education. This stage would be separated from both secondary and university education. The recommendations of the commission regarding this stage are—
The intermediate stage would be between the stage of matriculation and the university education.
Admission to the university should take place after the intermediate stage and not after the matriculation stage, as was done at that time.
Intermediate colleges may either be run as independent institutions or may be attached to selected schools.
The curriculum of the intermediate colleges should constitute Arts, Science, Engineering, Industrial education etc.
The function of the Board of Secondary and Intermediate education was to define curriculum, conduct two examinations at the secondary stage and grant recognition to high schools and intermediate colleges.
Classes at the intermediate stage should be small so that the teachers and students may come in close contact with each other.
The medium of instruction in intermediate colleges should be the mother tongue except in case of English and Mathematics.



CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


2. What stage of education is the basis of university education?
3. Mention the defects of secondary education according to the Sadler Commission.

4. What were the suggestions of the Commission regarding the improvement of secondary education in India.
5. What is intermediate education?

6. Why has this course been introduced?

7. Mention the functions of the board of secondary and intermediate education.


 

Recommendations on University Education


We have already discussed about the recommendations of secondary and intermediate education. Now we will discuss the recommendation of the commission regarding university education.

The main objective of the Sadler Commission was to reform university education in India and accordingly it gave importance to improving the quality of university education. The commission’s recommendations can be divided into two parts— academic and administrative.
First we shall discuss the academic and then proceed to recommendations regarding administrative reform.
 
A)
A. Academic Reform :

  • The duration of degree course should be three years after intermediate stage.
  • Honours courses as distinct from pass course, should be opened in the universities.
  • Provisions should be made for imparting instructions in Arts, Science, Engineering, Agriculture, Commerce and Medicine.
  • The medium of instruction at the university level should be English.
  • For the sake of better student teacher relationship seminar and tutorial classes may be held.
  • Department of Education should be started and education should be taught as a discipline in MA, BA and Intermediate Course.
  • A Director of Physical Training should be appointed for paying greater attention to the health and physical welfare of students.
  • A Board of Students’ Welfare should also be appointed in each university to look after their wellbeing.
  • The Commission recommended that oriental studies should be cultivated in the university.
  • Muslims should be provided special educational facilities in order that their backwardness may be removed.
B)
Administrative Reforms :
  • The commission recommended that the Government control over the universities should be less and flexible.
  • University teachers should be appointed by Selection Committees constituted specially for the purpose.
  • In place of Senate and Syndicate, there should be University Court and Executive Council for the management of the university.
  • Professors of Colleges should be represented in large numbers in the administration of the universities.
  • For the conduct of examinations, appointment of teachers and curriculum construction, a powerful Academic Council with faculties of different subjects and Board of Studies should be formed.
  • A full-time and paid Vice-Chancellor should be appointed.
  • Closer Co-operation should be maintained between the colleges and the universities.
  • An Inter University Board should be set up for connection and coordination among the different Indian Universities.


Recommendations on Calcutta University


We know that this commission was appointed to enquire into the condition and workings of Calcutta University. Let’s discuss the recommendations of the commission regarding Calcutta University.

In the opinion of the Commission the Calcutta University had assumed a huge dimension in the form of its various affiliated educational institutions. So it remarked that it was impossible for the university to perform its task successfully. The commission, therefore, recommended that—


 
A unitary residential teaching university should be established at Dacca.
The commission laid emphasis on the teaching functions of universities. It recommended that the Calcutta University should be made a real teaching university.
The various colleges within the urban area should be organised into one university which should take up teaching work.
The colleges of the mofussil areas should be developed in such a way that there may be gradual rise of new university centres by concentrating all possible resources for higher education on them.


CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


Write briefly on:
8. Academic reform as recommended by Calcutta University Commission.

9. Administrative reform of the universities.

10. Recommendations regarding Calcutta University


Other Educational Recommendations

It has been mentioned earlier that although the Sadler Commission was appointed to look into the affairs of Calcutta University, yet it dealt with some other aspects of university education also. The views of the commission with regard to some of the important issues are as follows:

For a proper and all round development of the adolescent boys and girls, parents and teachers have a great role to play. Some suggestions have been discussed below -
 
A)
Recommendations for Training of Teachers :

  • The commission rightly realised necessity of teachers’ training without which it is not possible to improve the standard of secondary education. The commission recommended the following suggestions—
  • The number of trained teachers should be increased without any delay.
  • Education should be taught as an independent subject in both intermediate and in BA Classes.
  • Department of education should be created in Calcutta and Dacca universities for teaching education as an independent subject.

B)
Recommendations for Education of Women:
  • For encouraging women education the commission gave the following suggestions :
  • The Government should start Purdah schools for those girls whose parents have a desire to educate their daughters upto the age of 15 or 16.
  • Co-education should be encouraged in those places where there were no separate institutions for the girls.
  • A special Board of Women’s Education should be established in the Calcutta University and a special curriculum should be provided according to the educational needs of women.
  • Women should be given training in medicine and teachers’ training.
C)
Recommendations for Technical and Vocational Education:

The commission felt that education should not only prepare the pupils for Government jobs only, it should also encourage them to take up different technical and vocational education. In regard to technical and vocational education, the commission made the following recommendations—

  • Applied Science and other allied subjects should be included in the university courses and proper arrangement should be made for their teaching.
  • Vocational education should be started at the Intermediate stage. This measure would facilitate the beginning of vocational education at the university stage.
  • Professional and vocational courses should be introduced in the universities.
D)
Modern Indian Languages :

The Calcutta University commission laid special emphasis on the development of modern Indian languages and on the study of vernacular at different stages of education. In the opinion of the commission systematic effort must be made to promote the serious study of the vernaculars in secondary schools, intermediate colleges and in the university.


CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


Write briefly:
11. What were the recommendations of the commission regarding training of teachers?
12. Write briefly on Sadler commission’s recommendations on—
(a) Women education
(b) Technical and vocational education



AN EVALUATION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMISSION


By now you have been familiar with all the recommendations of the Commission. Now we shall make an evaluation of all these recommendations. The recommendations of the Calcutta university commission have great importance in the field of Indian education. Although it was mainly appointed to look into the problems of Calcutta University, it made recommendations on almost all the main issues of secondary and higher education which were of great value to the higher education in India. They were in fact significant and applicable to the education of the entire country and a new life was infused into the educational system of the country.

The report of the commission had far reaching significance in respect of the establishment of a separate board of secondary education, medium of education, vocational education, three year degree course, separation of intermediate education from university education, institution of honours courses, formation of Executive and Academic Council, Faculties and Board of Studies in universities, appointment of a Director in physical education, full time Vice-Chancellor and development of women education and teacher education.

According to the recommendation of the commission the various universities in the country began to reorganise themselves. Thus, the commission gave a new life to the universities. Calcutta University was benefited immensely. Its working capacity was increased and it no longer remained only an examining body but was also engaged in teaching and doing research.

The commission tried to make education useful for life by giving recommendations on women education, vocational education and teacher training. It fulfilled a great need of the country by declaring the mother tongue as the medium of instruction.

The commission has been criticised on the ground that it proposed many new things much before time and they were not suitable in view of the circumstances prevailing at that time. It is said that the commission tried to pattern Calcutta university in the line of Oxford and Cambridge Universities and this attempt was not appropriate as the condition of India is different from England. Creating a separate Board of High school and Intermediate education was also considered much ahead of the time.
But inspite of these shortcomings we must admit that the recommendations of the commission was able to give a new direction to all branches of education in India.
 

RESULT OF RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMISSION


Let’s discuss the effect of the recommendations of the Calcutta university commission on Indian education.
The recommendations of the Sadler Commission greatly influenced the subsequent educational development in the next three decades. These developments may be identified as :

Firstly, increase in the number of universities. Due to the suggestions of this commission a number of new universities were opened in the country. Of these, the universities at Patna, Osmania, Aligarh, Dacca, Lucknow, Delhi, Agra, Nagpur, Hydrabad and Annamalai may be mentioned. The number increased upto 30 within 1930.

Secondly, teaching work done by the universities. Not only increase in numbers, teaching work also started in different universities. It is worth mentioning that the functions of the first three universities established in India, namely, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were confined to affiliation, examination and conferring degrees. Teaching was the function of degree colleges and there was no provision for post-graduate education. But after the recommendation of the commission the number of teaching universities and residential universities increased. Most of the newly established universities were teaching universities.

Thirdly,development of academic standard. Academic activities increased in the universities and colleges with the introduction Honours courses. The studies of different Indian languages started and facilities for higher studies and research were also created. The post of professor was created is the universities and the process of inviting learned faculties from abroad to broaden the academic outlook was also started. The department of Education was opened in Calcutta and Dacca universities.

Fourthly,development of internal administration of the universities. Internal administration of the universities improved due to the formation of university court and Executive Council in lieu of previous Senate and Syndicate. Beside these, the creation of the Academic Council to deal with academic matters, such, as, curriculum construction, examination, research etc. greatly helped in improving the academic standard of the universities. As suggested by the commission an Inter University Board was also set up in 1925 for connection and coordination among the different Indian universities.

Fifthly, provision for students’ welfare. For the first time attention of the universities were directed towards students’ welfare. A Board of students’ Welfare was formed in each university by following the suggestion of the commission.

After observing all these it will not be wrong to conclude that the recommendations of the commission have been much more important than those of any previous commission on education.


ACTIVITY


1. Critically evaluate the recommendations of the Calcutta university commission of 1917.

2. Discuss the effect of the recommendations of the commission on Indian higher education.




LET US SUM UP


Our discussion has focused on the need for setting up the Commission at the beginning of this unit. We have discussed the appointment of the commission in 1917 and its terms of references which was to enquire into the condition and working of Calcutta university and suggest measures for its reform. The commission submitted its report in 1919 and it was a comprehensive survey of the educational problems of secondary, collegiate and university education in India.

Our discussion focuses on the recommendations regarding secondary education, where the commission points out the defects of the prevailing system and suggestions for reform. These were: sanction required fund to remove the financial difficulties, diversification of the curriculum, necessity of suitable teaching, need for inspection and creation of a Board of Secondary and Intermediate education. The function of the Board was to construct curriculum, conduct two examinations and grant recognition to high schools and intermediate colleges. Intermediate stage of education will be an independent stage free from both secondary and university education.

The recommendations regarding universities can be divided into two parts— academic and administrative. Regarding academic reform, the commission suggested that the duration of degree courses should be of three years, honours courses should be opened and provisions should be made for instruction in Arts, Science, Commerce, Engineering, Agriculture and Medicine. Department of Education should be established in the universities and a Director of Physical training should be appointed. Administrative reform includes appointment of a selection committee for selecting teachers, creation of university court and executive council for the management of the university and Academic Council for curriculum and conduct of examination. Emphasis was laid on teaching functions of the university while making recommendation concerning Calcutta university.

Towards the end of the unit our discussion focuses on the other educational recommendation of the commission along with an evaluation of the recommendations and the result, i.e., impact of these in the subsequent development of education in India.

FURTHER READINGS


  • Chaube, S. P: History and Problems of Indian Education, Vinod Peestak Mandir, Agra.
  • Naik P. and Nurullah, S.: A Student’s History of Education in India, MaCMillan India Ltd., 1996

ANSWERS TO CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


 
After going through the discussion and explanation on this unit, the following are the basic ideas that we have found from this unit.
1. i) 1917
ii) Dr. Michael Sadler
iii) Leeds
iv) Sir Asutosh Mukerji
v) 1919
vi) Calcutta University.
2. Secondary Education.
3. Lack of tools and equipment, influenced by matriculation examination, necessity of trained teachers, poor salary, inspection not done regularly, suffering from financial hardship and double control of university and the Government.
4. Suggestion for improvement were supply of adequate grant, diversified courses, a Board of Secondary and Intermediate education should be established, administration of secondary education should be entrusted to the Board and the functioning of the Board should be free from any type of official interventions.
5. It is in the middle of secondary and university education.
6. Intermediate course was introduced to improve the quality of university education.
7. The function of the Board of Secondary and Intermediate education should be to frame curriculum for both secondary and intermediate education, conduct two examinations and grant recognition to high schools and intermediate colleges.
8. The academic reform of the universities as suggested by the Calcutta university commission were— duration of the degree course should be three year with honours and pass course as distinct subjects, instruction in Arts, Science, Commerce, Engineering, Agriculture and Medicine, education should be taught as a subject in BA and MA course and a director of physical training should be appointed.
9. Administrative reform were university teachers should be appointed by a Selection Committee of experts, for managing a university there should be court, executive council and academic council and professor of colleges should be represented in the administration of the universities.
10. By examining the condition of Calcutta University the commission recommended that a unitary residential university should be established in Dacca, Calcutta university should be made real teaching university and the colleges of the mofussil areas should be developed into new university centres.
11. Number of trained teachers should be increased, education as a subject should be introduced in intermediate and BA classes and also education department should be opened in Calcutta and Dacca university.
12. a) Purbah schools should be opened for girls and special board for women education should be set up at Calcutta University and a special curriculum should be provided to meet the educational needs of women.
b) Applied Science and other allied subjects should be included in the university courses and vocational education should be started at the intermediate stage.

POSSIBLE QUESTIONS



 
  • What are the recommendations of the Sadler Commission of 1917 regarding Indian universities? To what extent did the commission affect the development of higher education India?
  • Give the recommendation of Sadler Commission. Discuss in this connection how these recommendations affected in the development of higher education in
  • India.
  • Examine the recommendations of the Sadler Commission.
  • What has been the impact of the recommendations of Sadler Commission on the nature of higher education in India.
  • Critically examine the recommendations of Calcutta University Commission and discuss its impact in the development of higher education in India.

REFERENCES

  • Aggarwal, J. C.: Landmarks in the History of Modern Indian Education, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 2005.
  • Nurullah, S. and Naik, I. P.: History of Education in India during the British Period, MaCmillan India, 1951.Ll
  • Purkait, B. R.: Milestones of Indian Education, New Central Book Agency, 2005, Kolkata.
  • Rawat, P. L.: History of Indian Education, Ram Prasad & Sons, Agra, 1991.