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History (Education in India)

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History (Education in India)
« on: April 18, 2008, 12:13:30 AM »

:: History (Education in India)

India has a long history of organized education. The Gurukul system of education is one of the oldest on earth but before that the guru shishya system was extant, in which students were taught orally and the data would be passed from one generation to the next. Gurukuls were traditional Hindu residential schools of learning; typically the teacher's house or a monastery. Education was free (and often limited to the higher castes), but students from well-to-do families paid Gurudakshina, a voluntary contribution after the completion of their studies. At the Gurukuls, the teacher imparted knowledge of Religion, Scriptures, Philosophy, Literature, Warfare, Statecraft, mathematics, Medicine, Astrology and "History" ("Itihaas"). Only students belonging to Brahmin and Kshatriya communities were taught in these Gurukuls. However, the advent of Buddhism and Jainism brought fundamental changes in access to education with their democratic character. The first millennium and the few centuries preceding it saw the flourishing of higher education at Nalanda, Takshashila University, Ujjain, & Vikramshila Universities. Art, Architecture, Painting, Logic, mathematics, Grammar, Philosophy, Astronomy, Literature, Buddhism, Hinduism, Arthashastra (Economics & Politics), Law, and Medicine were among the subjects taught and each university specialized in a particular field of study. Takshila specialized in the study of medicine, while Ujjain laid emphasis on astronomy. Nalanda, being the biggest centre, handled all branches of knowledge, and housed up to 10,000 students at its peak. British records show that education was widespread in the 18th century, with a school for every temple, mosque or village in most regions of the country. The subjects taught included Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Theology, Law, Astronomy, Metaphysics, Ethics, Medical Science and Religion. The schools were attended by students representative of all classes of society. Traditional structures were not recognized by the British government and have been on the decline since. Gandhi is said to have described the traditional educational system as a beautiful tree that was destroyed during the British rule.

But scholars have questioned the validity of such an argument. The village pathshalas were often housed in shabby dwellings and taught by ill-qualified teachers. Instruction was limited mainly to the three Rs and the native mahajanilzamindari accounts. Printed books were not used, and most writing was done on palm leaf, plantain leaf, or on sand. There was no fixed class routine, timetable, or school calendar. There was no annual examination, pupils being promoted whenever the guru was satisfied of the scholar's attainments. There were no desks, benches,blackboards, or fixed seating arrangements. The decline probably started in the mid- 1700s. By the 1820s neither the village schools nor the tols or madrasas were the vital centers of learning. In 1823, Raja Rammohan Roy wrote to the governor-general, Lord Amherst, requesting that he not spend government funds on starting a Sanskrit College in Calcutta but rather employ "European Gentlemen of talent and education to instruct the natives of India in Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Anatomy and other useful sciences."The current system of education, with its western style and content, was introduced & founded by the British in the 20th century, following recommendations by Macaulay.