INTRODUCTION TO WOOD DESPATCH OF 1854

 

UNIT STRUCTURE

1. Learning Objectives
2. Introduction
3. Historical Events Leading to the Despatch
4. Recommendations of the despatch
5. Evaluation of the Despatch

1. Merits of Wood Despatch
2. Demerits of Wood Despatch.
6. Let Us Sum Up
7. Further Readings
8. Answers to Check Your Progress
9. Possible Questions
10. References

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

 
After going through this unit, you will be able to:
Know about the historical events leading to the Wood’s Despatch.
Describe the various recommendations of Wood’s Despatch.
Identify the merits and weaknesses of the Despatch and its impact on Indian education system.

INTRODUCTION


We discussed Lord Macaulay’s Minute of 1835 and educational policy of Lord William Bentinck, which was founded on educational views of Macualy. This unit deals with Wood’s Despatch of 1854. The Despatch is a very important educational document and holds a unique place in the history of Indian education. It placed the responsibility of education of the Indian people fully on the company and stated quite explicitly that it must never be neglected. The Despatch gave new direction to education in India and in a way this direction has its clear impact on today’s education in the country.

In this unit, we will discuss the historical the historical events leading to the Despatch, recommendations of the Despatch, its merits and weaknesses and finally the impact of the dispatch on the Indian Education System.
 

HISTORICAL EVENTS LEADING TO THE DESPATCH


Let us discuss the events that led to the preparation of the Despatch of 1854. It is known to us that the Charter of the East India Company had to be renewed after every twenty years. Accordingly 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 sent on education in India. When the time for renewal came in 1853, education in India had come to suffer numerous problems. The directors of the company decided to lay down a definite policy for education in India. Therefore, it became necessary to make a comprehensive survey of the entire field of education. As such, a Selection Committee of the British Parliament was set up in order to institute an enquiry into the measures for their reforms. The Committee studied the issue thoroughly and reported that the question of the Indian education should not be ignored and its development will not be in any case harmful to the British Empire. The suggestions of the Committee were favourably considered by the Board of Directors. 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”, although it is said that the Despatch was written by the famous thinker John Stuart Mill, a clerk of the company at that time. On the basis of the recommendations of the Wood’s Despatch, new educational policies were formed.

LET US KNOW

The East India Company had to renew its Charter after every twenty years. Before renewing the Charter in 1853, the British Parliament constitutes a Selection Committee to enquiry into the Progress of education in India and suggests reform. The suggestions of the Committee were issued as a Charter of Education on July 19, 1854. Charles Wood was the president of the Board of Control. So this is known as Wood’s Despatch of 1854.




RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE WOOD’S DESPATCH


Wood’s Despatch is a long document of 100 paragraphs and deals with the various aspects of great educational importance. Now we will discuss the recommendations in one by one.
Aims and Objectives of Educational Policy: The Despatch first throws light on the aims and objectives of educational policy of the Company in India. It gave highest priority to the responsibility of Indian Education overall other responsibilities of the Company. The Despatch had the following objectives in view:

a) To impart Western knowledge, information about the western culture to the Indians.
b) To educate the natives of India so that a class of public servants could be created.
c) To promote intellectual development and also raise the moral character of the young generation.
d) 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.
Department of Education: The Wood’s Despatch, for the first time, 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. The D.P.T. had to submit an annual report to the government about the educational progress in his province.
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 on the increase of setting up primary, middle and high schools. The Dowaward Feltration Theory as proposed earlier was discarded and in its place importance to primary education was given. Elementary education was considered to be the foundation of the education system.
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 modeled after the London University and these were to have a senate comprising of a Chancellor, a Vice-Chancellor, and fellows who were nominated by the Government. The Universities would confer degrees to the successful candidates after passing the examinations, (of Science or Arts Streams) conducted by the Senate. The universities were to organize 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 system in the Indian educational system. To educate the large number of people of India was a difficult task and so the grant-in-aid system was adopted by the government. Grants were given to those schools and colleges which satisfied the conditions given below :-

a) The schools must provide secular education.
b) The school management should run the school well.
c) The school should agree to state inspection from time to time.
d) The schools should follow any rule prescribed by the government for the regulation of the grant.
e) The school must charge fees from the students.

Grants were given to the schools for increasing the salaries teachers, construction of school buildings, granting scholarships to students, improving conditions of literaries, opening of science department etc.
Teaching of Language: - The Wood’s Despatch gave importance to teaching of English, but at the same time, it also stressed on the teaching of Indian languages. The Despatch realised that any acquaintance of European knowledge could be communicated to the common people and that could be conveyed to them only through learning their own mother tongue. Therefore the Despatch clearly stated that Indian languages as well as English should be used as media of instruction.
Education of Women: - The Despatch recommended that the government should always support education for women. The wood’s Despatch stated, “The importance of female education in India cannot be over rated; and we have observed with pleasure the evidence which is now afforded of an increased desire on the part of many of the natives of India to give a good education to their daughters. By this means a far greater proportional impulse is imparted to the educational and moral tone of the people than by the education of men”. The Despatch also encouraged the private enterprises 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. There should be training schools for teachers of engineering, medicine and law. The qualified teachers should be given better pay scales. The Despatch further emphasized on the provision of scholarships to the teachers during their training period.
Professional Education: - The Wood’s Despatch encouraged professional education. It recommended the establishment of medical, engineering law and other institutes of professional education. The Despatch stated that in order to develop vocational efficiency of people and also to make people realise that the British rule was progressive. Another reason for the encouragement of vocational education was to control the problem of unemployment.
Introduction of network of Graded Schools all over India: - The Wood’s Despath 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 and the bottom of the middle schools and at the bottom of the network were the primary schools, both government and indigenous. Both the Anglo-vernacular and vernacular schools were to be included in the same class. This system was recommended in order to enable an individual to receive higher education after completing the different levels of schools education.


Let Us KNOW

  • The main objective of the Wood’s Despatch was to educate Indian people inorder to create a class of civil servants.

  • It also wanted to impart Western knowledge and information about Western Culture to the Indian people.

  • The Wood’s Despatch recommended for the first time, the creation of Department of Education in Bengal, Madras, Bombay, Punjab and the North Western Provinces.

  • The Despatch recommended the promotion of mass education by establishing schools, both public of and private.

  • The Wood’s Despatch recommended the establishment of three universities in the Presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras on the model of the London University.

  • The grant-in-aid system was recommended by the Wood’s Despatch

  • The Despatch wanted to promote the study of English as well as Indian regional languages and classical languages like Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit.

  • The Wood’s Despatch supported women education.

  • Importance of training of teachers was realised by the Despatch and so it recommended the establishment of teacher training institutes. It also suggested the improvement of working condition and salaries of teachers.

  • The Wood’s Despatch also encouraged professional education.


Check Your progress

1. What were the main objectives of the Wood’s Despatch?
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2. Mention five main recommendations of Wood’s Despatch.
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EVALUATION OF WOOD’S DESPATCH


Now we are familiar with the recommendations of the Despatch of 1854. We have observed that the Despatch includes a number of valuable and fundamental recommendations for future educational development in India. It gave new direction to education and laid the foundation of the present Indian educational system. It solved many oldeducational issues like gradation of education, medium of instruction and proposed new schemes for future educational development in India with far reaching consequences. However, it can not be said that it is free from defects. Below we shall be understanding its merits and demerits:

 

Merits of Wood’s Despatch

The merits of the Despatch are discussed in the following points:

 
The Wood Despatch started a new era in Indian education system by clearly defining objectives of education.
It made the Government realise the importance of education for the people.
It presented a comprehensive scheme of education embracing primary, secondary and higher education.
It recommended the creation of a separate Department of Public Instruction in five provinces and appointment of a Director to head the Department.
The principle of Downward Filtration Theory was discarded by the Wood’s Despatch and it encouraged the promotion of mass education; it recommended the establishment of indigenous schools.
By the grant-in-aid system many schools were benefited and the quality of education improved and private organisations were encouraged to open new schools.
The Despatch encouraged higher education by recommending the establishment of universities in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.
The Wood’s Despatch emphasized on the necessity of vocational education.
The Despatch recommended the importance of establishing teacher training institutes to improve the quality of teachers and also improves their conditions and salaries.
The Despatch recommended scholarships for the poor and deserving students.
Language teaching was encouraged by the Despatch; as a result, regional languages and classical languages were taught in the schools.

 
LET US KNOW

The Wood’s Despatch was a historical document because of its merits. They are given below :-
For the first time the government seriously realised the importance of a well planned education system.
It recommended the creation of a Department of Public Instruction and appointed a Director to head the Department.
It recommended the establishment of both government and indigenous schools to promote mass education.
The Despatch also recommended the establishment of three universities to higher education.
The Despatch encouraged vocational edication and also training for teachers.
The Wood’s Despatch recommended the teaching of English and Indian regional languages as well as classical languages like Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit.


Check Your Progress

3. What were the merits of the Wood’s Despatch?
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Demerits of Wood’s Despatch


The demerits of the Wood’s Despacth are given below:

 
The Despatch, in reality promoted Western literature and knowledge and government offices showed preferences for persons educated in English.
The education planning and management schemes remained only in black and white.
It neglected general education. Only the privileged class receives education. Indigenous schools remained neglected. Priority was given to people educated on English pattern with regard to government posts. M. R. Paranjpe stated that, “the authors did not aim at education for leadership, education for the industrial regeneration of India, education for the defence of the motherland, in short, education required by the people of a self- governing nation.
Departments of Education were opened in the five provinces but they could not promote the real interest of education.
The system of grant-in-aid did not operate in proper sense, i.e., there was always the paucity of funds, the irregularity of their release and bliased attitude towards the privately managed schools.
The idea of providing vocational education as advocated by the Despatch, was in reality absent. People were facing the problem of unemployment and this is persisting even today.
The Wood’s Despatch had a partial attitude towards the Christian missionaries; Christian religious books were easily made available to the students, in the libraries.
The three universities were modelled on the London University and the Government’s policy of nominating members to the senate was biased. Therefore higher education was not related to Indian conditions.
The Despatch succeeded in only producing a class of clerks and accountants.
The Wood’s Despatch could not remove the imbalance in Indian education system. The rich people sent their children to English medium schools, and the government gradually stopped financial aid to the indigenous schools and so the existence of these schools became jeopardised. It failed to develop character initiative and leadership among students.

In conclusion it has been observed that however, it must be noted that inspite of all the limitations, the Wood’s Despatch was recognized as the Magna Carta of Indian Education.’ The objective of the Despatch was very sincere but the government could not implement the various suggestions and recommendations. The Department of Education was created in the five provinces with a DPI, inspectors and other officers. In 1857 three universities were also established in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. The main provisions of the document were of great historical importantance. It provided a boost to secondary education and to some extent to primary education also. It was however observed that some of the most important recommendations of the Despatch were not carried out for a long time and some were given effect in a distorted form. During the first thirty years after the Despatch, government institutions gradually increased and beside the Christian Missionaries other private enterprise were not encouraged.

As education spread and new ideals of social service emerged, Indian private enterprise began and multiplied but the government was not prepared to hand over its schools and colleges to Indian management as it had little faith on the Indians’ capacity and managerial skills. Plans to spread mass education were not realized nor were vernacular high schools established. It was painful to observe that the Despatch, to an extent, thought of India as a supplier of raw materials for British industries and the consumer of the finished products of England. Indians never recognized the Wood’s Despatch as a ‘Magna Carta’ as it did not sincerely promote universal literacy. The promoters of the Despatch could not visualize the progress of Indian aspirations even after a century. The Sepoy Mutiny happened in 1857 and soon after, the East India Company was disolved and the government came directly under the British Crown. As a consequence, efforts were made to consolidate the empire and education was somewhat neglected.

LET US KNOW

Demerits of the Wood Despatch:

  • The Wood’s Despatch could not manage the education system well.
  • Mass education did not become a reality.
  • The grant-in-aid system did not work well as there was paucity of funds and irregularity of the release of funds.
  • The Despatch was more intersted in promoting Western knowledge and culture.
  • The Department of Public Instruction could not promote the interest of education and the education in the universities could not be related to Indian conditions.
  • The Despatch did not promote vocational education as was required. in fact, the idea was postponed indefinitely.
  • Women education continued to be neglected.
  • The Despatch produced a cass of clerks and accountants but did not develop character and leadership qualities among students.

Check Your Progress

4. Mention four main demerits of the Wood’s Despatch.
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5. What was the impact of the Wood’s Despatch on Indian education?
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LET US SUM UP


 
After having the discussion on this unit, followings are the basic ideas that we have discussed in details.
In the 1853 renewal of the Charter Act, it was realised that a systematic pattern of education was necessary for India. As a result the Wood’s Despatch was issued, with Sir Charles Wood as the President of the Board of Control of Education.
The main objective of the Despatch was to impart Western knowledge to the Indian people and also to develop their intellect and moral character.
For the first time in India, the Wood’s Despatch recommended the creation of a Department of Public Instruction in five provinces.
A major recommendation of the Wood’s Despatch was to spread education among the common people and to make them vocationally efficient.
Three universities in three Presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were set up as per the recommendations of the Despatch.
A major recommendation of the Wood’s Despatch was to spread education among the common people and to make then vocationally efficient.
Grant-in-aid system was to be introduced as per the recommendation of the Wood’s Despatch.
The Despatch encouraged the teaching of Indian regional languages and classica languages like Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit as well as English.
The wood’s Despatch encouraged the establishment of teacher training institutes to improve the quality of teachers.
For all the recommendations mentioned above, the Wood’s Despatch was called the ‘Magna Carta of Indian Education’.
Inspite of sincere intentions of the Wood’s Despatch, the government failed to implement many recommendations.
English continued to be the medium of instruction and the common people were deprived of education.
The universities set up in 1857 imparted such education as to promote Western knowledge and culture in India.
In reality, there was no vocational education in the country.
Mainly because of the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, most of the recommendations could not be implemented.


FURTHER READINGS


  • B.D. Damal and B.N. Dash, “Education in modern Indian”, Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi.
  • Dr. K.C. Baruah and Dr, M. M, Sharma “A New Refresher Course in History of Education in Indians”, Vinod Pustak Mandir, Dr. Rangeya Raghave Marg, Agra-2.


ANSWERS TO CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


 
 
1.
The main objectives of the Wood’s Despatch were –

a) To impart Western knowledge and information about the Western culture to the people.
b) To educate the Indian people so that a class of public servants could be created.
c) To promote intellectual development and vocational skills and also to raise the moral character of the people.
2.

Five main recommendations of the Wood’s Despatch were:-

a) Creation of a Department of Public Instruction in the five provinces of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, Punjab and the North Western provinces.
b) The Wood’s Despatch recommended the promotion of mass education by establishing schools - primary, middle and high schools.
c) The Despatch recommended the establishment of universities in three Presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras for the promotion of higher education.
d) The Wood’s Despatch recommended the introduction of the grant-in-aid system. Grants were provided to schools which imported secular education, abide by the government rules and agree to inspection from time to time.
e) The Despatch recommended that the government should always support women education.

3.
The merits of Wood Despatch were:

i) The Wood’s Despatch, for the fist time started a properly planned education system in India.
ii) It made the government realize the importance of general education.
iii) It recommended the creation of a Department of Public Instruction and appointment of a Director to head the Department.
iv) The Despatch recommended the establishment of universities in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras to promote higher education.
v) The Wood’s Despatch also recommended the establishment of institutes of vocational education and teacher training.
vi) The grant-in-aid system was introduced by the Despatch to improve the quality of education in schools.
vii) It realised the importance of teaching Indian languages as well as English.
4.
Four main drawbacks of the Wood’s Despatch were :-
a) The Despatch promoted English as the medium of instruction, encouraged western knowledge and culture and government offices showed preferences for persons educated in English.
b) General education remained neglected.
c) The education provided produced only a class of clerks and accountants.
d) Vocational education was almost absent and women education was still very much neglected.
5.
In spite of all the demerits, the Wood’s Despatch started a new era in the history of Indian education system. It made certain Landmark recommendations and so it was called the ‘Magna Carta” of Indian education. The objectives of providing mass education, women and vocational education and also teacher training were very sincere effort of the Despatch, but the government could not implement the various suggestions and recommendations due to dearth of funds and their apathetic attitude.
As a result of the recommendations and suggestions of Wood’s Despatch, in 1857 universities were established in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras but because of the Sepoy Mutiny efforts were made only to consolidate the British Empire and education was neglected.

POSSIBLE QUESTIONS



 
  • Mention the main recommendations of the Despatch of 1854. Do you agree to call the Despatch “the Magnacarta of Indian Education”?

  • What were the effects of the Despatch of 1854 on Indian Education? Can you trace its influence on any present system of education? Expalin.

  • What are the main suggestions of Wood’s Despatch? How far did the suggestions help in the development of education in India?

  • “The Despatch of 1854 laid the foundation of a sound and effective system of educational administration in India”, examine the statement.

REFERENCES


  • Baruah K.C. and Dr. Sharma M.M., : A New Refresher Course in History of Education in Indian “ Vinod Pustak Mandir, Agra.
  • Damal B.D. and Dash B.N, “Education in Modern Indian”, Kalyani Publisher, New Delhi.
  • Chaube, S.P., “History of Indian Education, “Vinod Pustak Mandir, Agra, 2005,
  • Mukerjee S.N., “Education in India, Today and Tomorrow.
  • Nurullah and Naik, “A History of Education in India,” Macmillan, Bombay, 1951.
  • P.L. Rawat, : History of Indian Education,” Ram Prasad and sons, Agra, 1995.