Demerits of English Educational System in Colonial India

Following are the defects of English Educational System:

1. The Promoters of the System had no Intention to do any Good to the Indian People

Having assessed the utility and the efforts of the English educational system, we have now to consider its defects. The English system was introduced in India at a time when the country was under political serfdom and the relation between the English and the Indian people was that of the ruler and the ruled.

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It would not at all be wrong to affirm that the British never tried for the progress and advancement of Indians from that point of view which they would have adopted for their own country. The English system of education did not produce any direct or ostensible benefit; in fact, it proved beneficial only indirectly.

Form the view point of quantitative development of education, we find that during the last 150 years this system could give education only to 15 per cent of the country’s population this figure stands no comparison with those of other countries.

The Charter to the Company in 1813, and the Dispatch of 1854 have to be referred to in this context. On a perusal of these we find that the aim of education adumbrated in these was to produce competent and loyal clerks for the Company and the propagation of western knowledge to expect any good to the individual, society and nation from an educational system with such a narrow outlook is hoping against hope.


We can, therefore, say that the English system simply nourished British imperialism and it was not introduced with any idea of the good for the people.

All the benefit that accrued there from was the indirect result of the weakness inherent in the system. It was due to these facts that this education did not prove advantageous to the Indians from the point of view of quantitative or qualitative development or even the prosperity of the country.

2. The Educational System Contrary to the Requirements of the Indians

That educational system can be called suitable which helps in all-round development of the individual, the society and the nation.

Some critics think that from this point of view the English system was useless, and this again, was the reason why the people did not adopt it.

There was no room for the spirit of self-reliance in this system. Most of the British rulers thought that the education which inculcated the spirit of self-reliance would create in the Indians the feeling of independence and liberty and they tingled with awe at the much thought.

Their object was to keep India in their clutches in order to destroy its accumulated glory, to plunder its wealth and thus to show off to other countries of the world their own glory and prosperity. Their educational system catered to this.

3. Wrong Methods of the Implementation of the English System

The ideals of English education system were undoubtedly nefarious but along with this the methods adopted for its dissemination were also bad. As a result of its propagation of old schools like Vidyapith, Pathshala, Madarsas and Maktabs which catered to the needs of the Indians were destroyed root and branch.

Another serious defect was the downward filtration theory which unnecessarily prolonged the period of education. Consequently, this system of education could not be widely propagated and it remained confined to a particular class.

In this system English was made the medium at the cost of the Indian languages. It proved useful at the university level, but it became an unnecessary burden on the immature minds of the students of lower classes. Consequently, other languages became the scapegoat of English and the opportunities were also rare for acquiring new knowledge.

4. British Education Created a Gulf between the Educated and Uneducated and between the Old and the New

Another serious defect of the system was that it had the same ideals for its ‘implementation in India as it had for England irrespective of the fact that there was a world of difference between the social, economic, floral and cultural conditions of the two countries. Hence this system of education could not prove beneficial to India.

The main reason behind the indifference of the British towards e Indian condition was their intense dislike or hatred for India and they were undoubtedly wrong, yet they were after all the land.

This very feeling proved later on the cause of their own going away from India, but even before the awakening of India, it produced a class of Anglo-Indians who were English in ways of living but were Indians to all intents and purposes.

Thus this system, instead of bringing about synthesis of Eastern and Western culture, created a wide gulf between the education and the uneducated, and the old and the new.

If, on the contrary, Eastern spiritualism and Western materialism could have been synthesised with the practical sense of England and the spirit of detachment of the East, respectively, ways of a new knowledge would have retired in the world.

5. The English Educational System did not inspire any Reconstruction

Being Government-centred, English education was adopted by the wealthy classes only. It was overridden by the administrative machinery and as such the commonality could not adopt it.

This educational system also worked on the principle of ‘divide and rule’ so much so that it ostensibly aimed at the splitting up of the Indian nation.

Hence this system was totally devoid of the feelings of reform and reconstruction and it remained incapable of turning out good citizens for the country and the society as a whole. In this way, it simply helped in the consolidation of the British rule and had no concern for the reconstruction of the country.

It was difficult to draw from this system any inspiration for reconstruction, nevertheless some sparks were ignited by this very system and these later on flared up into a conflagration.

6. Neglect of Education by the Administrative Centers

Education department was not given much regard and attention during the British rule and the emoluments of the officers of this department were lesser than those of other departments.

It was due to this that Englishmen of low calibre were appointed on these posts from whom no help in the progress of education could be expected.

This department was put under the control of a minister who did the work of his department during his leisure hours in a very careless and casual manner thus the education of the Indians continued to be overlooked and neglected during the British regime.

There were also some competent and capable persons like Grant, Michael, and Sadler but apart from these there was no other officer in the department who could manage the work efficiently. This was the reason why the education department could not get the co-operation of others.

7. Different Policies were followed by Different Officers

The British Government did not give necessary attention to organizing Indian education in a good manner and no well planned scheme could be formulated for its implementation and dissemination. Different policies were adopted and followed according to the whims of the different officers.

After the transfer of one officer the other one adopted his own methods. Due to these recurring changes in the policies and methods of the department the education of India could not make any progress, nay it declined day by day.

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