1. Learning Objectives
2. Introduction
3. Simla Education conference

4. Primary Education Policy

1. Assessment of Curzon’s Primary Education Policy
5. Adjustment Mechanism

1. Assessment of Curzon’s Secondary Education Policy
6. University Education Policy

1. Indian Universities Act, 1904
2. Assessment of Curzon’s University Education Policy
7. Other Educational Reforms of Lord Curzon
8. Curzon’s contribution to Indian Education
9. Let Us Sum Up
10. Further Readings
11. Answers to Check Your Progress
12. Possible Questions
13. References


After going through this unit, you will be able to:
Describe Simla Education Conference, 1901,
Identify and assess Primary Education Policy of Lord Curzon,
Describe Secondary Education Policy and assess its influence,
Explain University Education Policy and assess its impact on higher education,
Describe other Educational Reforms, and
Examine Lord Curzon’s contribution to Indian Education.


In this Unit we shall discuss Lord Curzon, Curzon’s educational policy. Lord Curzon came to India in a very crucial period of Indian history. This was the beginning of 20th century and severe famine and epidemic of Plague had crippled the social life of the people. Primary education was in a very bad shape. But with the establishment of the Indian National Congress in 1885 there was a revival of a national spirit in the field of education. The people of the country started realising the need for a system of education that would represent our national character. Several national leaders like B.G. Tilak, Annie Besant, C. R. Das, Dadabhai Naoroji, Gokhale had emerged and helped in the development of the spirit of nationalism. Lord Curzon came to India as Viceroy in 1899. During his vice-royalty education in India was reviwed very critically and steps were taken to improve the different levels of education. This unit will focus on Lord Curzon’s educational policy in different levels of education and how it influenced in the development of education or our country.


The first step in the educational reform that Lord Curzon initiated was the holding of a conference at Simla in September 1901. This was the first conference on all India basis. The conference was attended by the Provincial Directors of Public Instruction, representatives of the Christian Missionaries and a few selected educationists. But the representatives of the Indian people were conspicuously absent. The conference continued for a fortnight. Lord Curzon himself presided over the conference and took a very prominent part in drafting the resolution. All total 150 resolutions were passed, which were mostly unanimous and which covered all the stages of Indian education from primary to university level. These resolutions formed the basis of the Government Resolution of 1904 on Education Policy. The Government identified the shortcomings of Indian education and the major policy decisions were as follows—

  • The Government should fully control all stages of education.
  • The Government should spend more money on education.
  • Government schools should be such that it could serve as models to private schools.


Now you know about Simla Education conference, which was the basis of all reforms on education introduced by Lord Curzon. In this section we shall discuss his primary education policy.

Lord Curzon realised the poor condition of primary education in India interms of quality and quantity. Therefore he gave priority to this stage of education. In the Government Resolution of 1904 he declared that the primary education had received insufficient attention and it was the duty of both the central and provincial Governments to pay more attention for the expansion and improvement of primary education. Some of the significant steps taken by him in this regard are mentioned below—

Liberal grant-in-aid :
Lord Curzon had realised that primary education in India had suffered mainly because limited funds available for it. He therefore directed the provincial Governments to spend larger amounts on primary education by giving necessary recurring grants to the local boards and the Municipalities. He raised the Government grant to local authorities from one third to one half of the total expenditure. He also sanctioned special grants for the diseased and famine striken people.
Abolition of the system of payment by results :
Lord Curzon stopped the system of aiding primary schools on the basis of examination results, i.e., ‘Payment by Results’ as was introduced by the Hunter Commission 1882. Due to this system primary education failed to develop substantially. Curzon introduced more scientific methods of paying grant in aid and suggested that the Government should follow a more liberal policy for providing grants to primary schools.
Training of Teachers:
For qualitative improvement of primary education specific importance was given on training of teachers. Steps were taken to establish training centres for primary teachers and it was directed that the duration of training should not be less than two years. It was further suggested that the village school teachers should be given training in agricultural education.
Improvement of Teacher’s Salary :
Lord Curzon gave importance on raising the standard of living of the primary school teachers by restructuring their pay scale. He observed that there were differences in pay scales of the teachers in different states. Curzon tried to bring the pay scale of teacher to the equal level but he could not make it fully due to his short span of time in office.
Reform in curriculum :
Lord Curzon wanted to up grade the primary school curriculum. Besides teaching three R’s, he directed to include Agriculture as a subject in the primary school curriculum as India is a predominantly an agricultural country. Physical education was another useful subject introduced in the curriculum. Lord Curzon felt that the primary school curriculum needed to be intimately related to local environment and therefore, suggested that the curriculum of rural and urban schools should be different.
Method of Teaching:
Curzon observed that the methods of teaching in primary schools had been old and unscientific for which children were not attracted to these schools. He tried to introduce better and scientific methods of teaching like kindergarten method for improvement of the teaching method. This type of method was to be adopted where competent teachers were available.

Assessment of Lord Curzon’s Primary Education Policy

Now you know about the steps taken by Lord Curzon for improving the condition of Primary Education, you should also understand the impact of his policy, i.e., how far it helped to improve primary education in India.

Actually, the policy of Lord Curzon marked the beginning of a new era in the history of primary education in India. He correctly identified that money was the main hurdle to achieving the objectives of primary education. Accordingly, he followed the policy of sanctioning liberal grants from the Government funds for its expansion and consequently there was a considerable increase in the number of pupils attending primary schools. Curzon also stopped the discriminatory system of payment by results and introduced the more scientific method of paying recurring and non-recurring grants to remove financial difficulties. As a result the number of recognised primary schools increased from 93,604 in 1901-02 to 1,18,262 in 1911-12, i.e., within a period of 10 years (Naik and Nurallah, p. 263).

Lord Curzon also tried to remove traditionalism in our primary education system and introduced subjects like Agriculture and Physical education in the primary school curriculum to make it more useful, practical and modern. He made provision for training of the teachers and make their pay scale improved and uniform.

Besides these, Curzon tried to introduce improved method of teaching like the Kindergarten method and gave importance on developing the reasoning power rather than mechanical memorization. By observing all these we must admit that Lord Curzon tried to bring the spirit of modernisation in our primary education.



1. Write briefly on the Simla Education Conference.

2. What was the major cause of the slow progress of primary education in India?

3. Name the new subjects introduced by Lord Curzon in the primary school curriculum.

4. List the steps taken by Lord Curzon to improve the condition of primary education.


We have already discussed the Primary Education Policy of Lord Curzon. Let us now turn our attention towards the Secondary Education Policy and see how he wanted to improve it.

Curzon’s Secondary Education Policy can be divided into two parts—
(i) Policy of control and
(ii) Policy of improvement. First we will discuss the Policy of control.

Policy of control :

The Hunter Commission of 1882 suggested that the Government should withdraw from the field of secondary education and its expansion should be left to the private bodies which were to be given liberal grant in aid. As a result the number of private schools increased. Although the Government fixed certain rules and regulations for the Government aided schools there was no such regulation for the privately managed schools, most of which were inefficiently and poorly staffed and poorly equipped.
In the Government Resolution on Education of 1904, it is stated that whether these schools are managed by public authority or by private persons and whether they have received public funds or not, the Government is bound in the interest of the community to see that education provided to them are sound. The Government at that time tried to control the private schools in the following way :

The managing committee of the school should be properly constituted.

  • The financial condition of the school should be stable.
  • The school must make provision for the health and recreation of its pupils.
  • The number of teachers should be suitable and properly qualified.
  • For establishing secondary schools in a particular area the necessity of the school will be assessed.
  • Every secondary school whether Government aided or privately managed must receive recognition from the Director of Public Instruction of the concerned state.
  • In addition to the recognition from the Education Department, it must obtain recognition from a University also if it wants to present students at the Matriculation examination conducted by the University.
  • Recognised schools will be eligible to receive Government grant-in-aid and pupils to receive scholarships.
  • Transfer of students from an unrecognised school to a recognised school was prohibited .

Policy of Improvement:

Curzon realised that Government control alone cannot improve the conditions of secondary schools. For qualitative improvement he adopted the following measures:

  • Provincial Governments should sanction more financial grants to improve the condition of secondary school.
  • Government secondary schools should serve as a model for private secondary schools.
  • Grants should be provided to private schools also to make them equal to standard schools like the public schools.
  • The number of teacher training centres should be increased and teachers should be encouraged to receive training.
  • The inspectorate was to be made more efficient for effecting rigorous control over secondary education and the number of inspectors should be increased.
  • Curriculum of the secondary schools should be modified by including practical and vocational subjects. Physical education should be included as a subject inthe curriculum.
  • The medium of instruction should be mother tongue upto middle school level. But the study of English must not be neglected.
  • Importance should be given to improving discipline among students and teachers.


Assessment of Curzon’s Secondary Education Policy

Now we must make a critical assessment of Lord Curzon’s Secondary Education Policy.

As a whole, we may term his secondary education policy as ‘successful’ because it raised the quality of secondary education. His policy to make the secondary schools receive recognition from the Government as well as from the university helped in improving its quality of education. Many private secondary schools had to close down for the failure to get recognition because of which many nationalist Indians criticised Lord Curzon for his policy and expressed that he wanted to crush nationalistic upsurge. But his strict policy helped to improve not only the quality of education but also the quality of administration of secondary schools also.
Secondly, as the schools had to take recognition from the University, they had to give importance on teacher training and raising the academic standard in order to send their students for matriculation examination.

Thirdly, it is worth mentioning that it was Lord Curzon who insisted that mother tongue should be the medium of instruction up to middle level. For this measures many poor students were able to receive education through their own languages. This paved the way for introducing mother tongue as a medium of instruction in secondary schools in later stages.


5. Write briefly:
a) Policy of Control.

b) Policy of Improvement.
6. Do you think Lord Curzon was successful in improving the condition of secondary education in India?



Already you are familiar with the primary and secondary education policy of Lord Curzon. Let’s discuss his higher education policy.

Lord Curzon was the first person to appoint a commission on University education. On January,27, 1902, the Indian University Commission was appointed under the Chairmanship of Sir Thomas Ralley to enquire into the conditions of the Universities established in British India, and to consider and report upon the proposals for improving their constitution and working. The commission submitted its report in June of the same year (1902) stressing the need for reorganisation of the Universities. It rejected the idea of setting up new Universities. Its main recommendations are as follows—

  • The jurisdiction of each University should be fixed and new Universities should not be established.
  • The constitution of the Universities should be changed to make provisions for teaching in the Universities.
  • Undergraduate and Post-graduate curricula should be introduced.
  • Conditions for recognising colleges should be stern.
  • The syndicates should have about 9-15 members.
  • The standard of the matric examination should be improved.
  • Importance should be given to the study of classical languages and arrangements should be made for the best possible teaching of English.

Indian Universities Act,1904

:This Act followed the earlier Act of 1902. The Indian Universities Act of 1904, passed on March, 21 was formulated on the basis of the recommendations of the Indian University Commission of 1902. The main provisions of this Act are—

Universities were given the right of teaching along with the right of conducting examination. In short, their scope was enlarged.
Universities had the right to appoint teachers to conduct teaching and undertake research. They also had the right to manage their libraries, laboratories and to make out plans to bring about discipline among students.
Upto the moment the number of the seats in the Senate of the Universities were not fixed and the Govt. used to make life-long nominations. According to this Act., the number was fixed. The minimum number was fifty and the maximum number was hundred. Their term was determined for five years.
The Act introduced the principle of election in the constitution of the Senate. According to this Act., 20 fellows are to be elected in the Universities of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay and 15 in other Universities.
The Act gave statutory recognition to Syndicates and made provision for the adequate representation of university teachers in the university Senate.
The Govt. reserved the right to make amendments and reforms and give approval to the rules framed by the Senates of the University and also it can frame regulations itself if the Senate fails to frame these regulations in time.
Rules in regard to granting recognition were made more strict. In order to raise the standards of education, the Syndicate could call for the inspection of colleges imparting higher education.
Prior to this Act., the territorial jurisdiction of universities was not fixed. As a result some colleges were affiliated to two universities while others were situated in the jurisdiction of one university but affiliated to another.
This Act, made it clear that the Governor General will by his ordinary or extraordinary orders fix the territorial jurisdiction of the Universities and according to this provision the relations between colleges shall be established and maintained.

Assessment of Curzon’s University Education Policy

Now let’s discuss Lord Curzon’s University Education Policy.

It is clear from the above discussion that Lord Curzon wanted to control the functioning of the universities and thereby break the autonomy of the universities. In the recommendations of the Indian University Commission of 1902, there was no proposal for establishing new university. Moreover, there was no representation of any Indian in the two Commissions because of this for his policy did not find favour with the Indian Public. Although two Indian members— G. D. Banerjee and Syed Hasan were included in later stage yet even the then Indian public did not feel happy. They were suspicious of the intention of Curzon and felt that through policy that the Govt. wanted to suppress nationalism. Many private colleges had to close down because of the policy of shrinkage of higher education taken by Lord Curzon. The number of degree colleges reduced from 192 in 1902 to 170, within a span of 10 years. This had received widespread criticism. But we cannot deny the fact that Curzon gave importance on improving the standard and quality of higher education. The credit for initiating a university improvement campaign was moving slowly but steadily towards its well defined objectives.


7. Who was the Chairman of Indian University Commission of 1902?

8. Why was the University Education Commission of 1902 instituted?

9. List briefly the main provisions of the Indian Universities Act. of 1904.


Lord Curzon carried out several other educational reforms also and you must be familiar with these reforms also.

Agricultural Education:

Lord Curzon was the first person to give importance on organising agricultural education. He introduced Lord Curzon carried out several other educational reforms also and you must be familiar with these reforms also.

(i) agriculture as a subject of study at school stage,
(ii) established the Department of Agriculture,
(iii) created Central Research Institute at Puna and
(iv) laid down the principle that every important province in India must
have its own Agricultural college which should be properly staffed
and equipped.
Establishment of Art School :
Schools of Art were reformed which had failed in their primary object of promoting Indian art. Curzon directed that the schools should be continued with certain modifications in their subjects, methods and organisation.
Moral Education :
Although the Missionaries tried to incorporate religious influence in education Lord Curzon rejected the idea and expressed in his Resolution on Educational Policy (1904) that “In Govt. institutions the institution is, and must continue to be, exclusively secular”.
Creation of the Department of Archaeology :
Curzon found that the ancient monuments of India were not properly being cared for and, therefore, created a special department for the purpose. He also passed the Ancient Monument Preservation Act. of 1904.
Foreign Scholarships :
Scholarships in large number for sending Indian students abroad for technological studies were sanctioned. The necessity of technical education in India had been felt by Lord Curzon for developing Indian industries.
Appointment of Director General in Education :
One of the greatest contributions of Lord Curzon in the field of Indian education was to create the post of Director General of Education in India.


Now let us examine critically Curzon’s contribution towards Indian Education.

Lord Curzon was severely criticised in his days. He failed to create faith and confidence in the minds of educated Indians. They thought that his reform had some deep political motives. For the socio-political condition of the country in those days it was not possible to evaluate Curzon’s activities in an objective and impartial manner. But now it is admitted that Lord Curzon did yeoman service to the cause of Indian education. During his days every aspect of education received his keen attention and it was Lord Curzon who started the movement for educational reconstruction in India. He laid the foundation of the reforms of Indian universities and tried to raise the standard of Indian higher education. He recognised the responsibility of education by the central Govt. Standards of secondary education was also raised through rigid and regular inspection and stricter condition of recognition. Due to his patronage expansion of primary education was striking. Technical and vocational education received impetus in his hands. Reforms were also introduced in agriculture education, department of Agriculture was established and arrangement was made for agricultural research. His attempt to preserve the ancient monuments of India and creation of a department of Archaeology was praiseworthy.



10. List the other reforms that Lord Curzon introduced in India.

11. “Lord Curzon touched every branch of education and touched nothing that he did not reform.” —Justify the statement.


In this unit we have discussed the educational policy of Lord Curzon, who came to India as Viceroy in 1899. He initiated his educational reform by holding a conference at Simla in 1901. This was the first conference on an all India basis and a total of 150 resolutions were passed covering all the stages of education.First we have focused our attention on Curzon’s primary educational policy and observed that Curzon rightly identified the causes for the poor condition of primary education. He took some significant steps like liberal grant in aid, abolition of the system of payment by result, teacher training, improvement of teacher’s salary and curriculum etc. As a result, the number of recognised primary schools and enrolment increased significantly.

Regarding secondary education, to check the growth of inefficient private schools Lord Curzon took certain strict measures. But at the same time he tried to improve the quality of secondary education also.

Lord Curzon set up a University Education Commission in 1902 to enquire into the condition of the universities and improving their constitution and working. On the basis of the recommendations of the commission the Indian Universities Act of 1904 was passed. In the last section of this unit we have discussed other reforms carried out by Lord Curzon and assessed his contribution towards Indian education.


  • Purkait, B. R.: Milestones in Modern Indian Education, New Central Book Agency, Kolkata
  • Rawat, P. L.: History of Indian Education, Ram Prasad & Sons, Agra


Simla Education Conference was held in 1901. The conference was attended by the Directors of Public Instruction of all the provinces and a few selected educationists. Lord Curzon himself presided over the conference and all total 150 resolutions passed covering all states of Indian Education.
Lord Curzon identified that lack of funds for development was the major cause of slow progress of primary education in India.
Lord Curzon stressed to introduce the subject like Agriculture and Physical Education mainly in the Primary School Curriculum.
The following are the steps taken by Lord Curzon in order to improve the condition of primary education :
(a) Liberal grant in aid,
(b) abolition of the system of payment by result,
(c) improvement of teachers salary,
(d) reform in curriculum and
(e) method of teaching.
(a) Policy of control means that Lord Curzon took certain steps to control the secondary schools for improving its quality of education and administration. These steps were— managing committee must be properly constituted, financial position must be stable, giving importance on recreation of the students, taking recognition from the education department of the Govt. as well as from the university and putting emphasis on teacher training and transfer of students from unrecognised school to recognised school was strictly prohibited.

(b) Policy of improvement means the steps Lord Curzon initiated or improving the condition of secondary school which were sanctioning large grants to both public and private secondary school, increasing the number of the teacher training centres, increasing the number of school inspectors inclusion of practical and vocational subjects in the curriculum, making provisions for mother tongue as medium of instruction up to the middle level etc.
Yes, Lord Curzon was successful in improving the condition of secondary schools. The quality of education provided in secondary school improved because the school had to take recognition from Govt. education Dept. and also from the university for sending students for matriculation examination. Thus he gave importance on raising the academic standard, receiving training by teachers, inspection etc.
Sir Thomas Ralley.
To enquire into the conditions of universities established in British India.
Universities were given the right to teaching and research, the number of the Senate members was fixed, statutory recognition to syndicate, Govt. secured the right of making amendments, rules of granting recognition made strict etc.
The other reforms that Lord Curzon introduced were
(a) agriculture education,
(b) moral education,
(c) establishment of Art school,
(d) creation of the department of Archaeology,
(e) sanctioning foreign scholarships to Indian students and
(f) appointment of Director General in education.
It is true that Lord Curzon did yeoman service to the cause of Indian education. He was the first to start educational reconstruction in India right from primary to university level. Both quantitative and qualitative improvement of education received importance in all stages of education. He touched every branch of education including technical, vocational, agriculture, archaeology and also made arrangement for foreign scholarship to Indian students.


1. What attempts were made by Lord Curzon to improve Indian education? Was he successful?
2. Critically examine Lord Curzon’s policy on secondary education. Mention its after effects.
3. What were the provisions of the University Act of 1904? How far in your opinion has the act succeeded in achieving its objective?
4. “Lord Curzon has touched every branch of education and reformed them.” —Discuss.
5. Write short notes on —
  • Simla Education Conference.
  • Lord Curzon’s Primary Education Policy.
  • University Act of 1904.


  • Aggarwal, J. C.:Landmarks in the History of Modern Education, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi.
  • Nurullah, S. & Naik, J. P.: History of Education in India during the British Period, MaCMillan India, 1951.ll
  • Mukerji, S. N.: Education in India today and Tomorrow, Acharya Book Depot., Vdodra
  • Naik & Nurullah :A Students’ History of Education in India, Mcmillan India