Wood’s Dispatch (1854) Hunter Education Commission (1882-83)

Wood’s Dispatch Comprehensive education system and organizational structure :You have seen as to how Macaulay’s Minute influenced educational policy of Lord William Bentinck, which was in force for next 40 years.

In 1853, when renewal of the Company charter again came for the consideration, the British Parliament examined the progress of education in India. The observations and suggested reforms were issued as a Charter of Education, known as Wood’s Dispatch of 1854.

Wood’s Dispatch is considered to be the “Magna Carta of Education” in India. The Dispatch is a comprehensive 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 made it quite clear that it must never be neglected. The Dispatch gave new direction to education in India and which has its impact on today’s education in the country.

The aim of education was stated as diffusion of European Arts, Science, Philosophy and Literature through English. Promotion of Indian languages was also to be encouraged. “Creation of a class of public servants”, was the important objective. For this purpose, expansion of mass education was given priority.

The Wood’s Dispatch, for the first time, recommended the creation of a Department of Public Instruction in each of the five provinces of Bengal, Bombay, Madras, Punjab and the North Western province.

For higher education, a scheme to establish universities was formulated along with total organizational set up. They were to conduct examinations and offer degrees in various subjects and languages. This led to the establishment of the first three universities in 1857, at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.

The Dispatch made important recommendations on most of the aspects of education like establishing network of graded schools all over the country such as elementary schools, high schools, intermediate, colleges and university, etc., grant in aid system for financial support to schools, provision for women education, training and professional development of teachers, establishment of medical, engineering law and other institutes of professional education to develop vocational efficiency of people.

The importance of wood’s dispatch was in a number of valuable and fundamental recommendations for future educational development in India. It gave new direction to issues like gradation of education, medium of instruction and proposed new schemes for future educational development in India with far reaching consequences.

The main provisions of the document were of great historical importance. 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 Dispatch were not carried out for a long time and some were given effect in a distorted form.

During the first thirty years after the Dispatch, government institutions gradually increased, but except the Christian Missionaries, other private efforts were not encouraged.

Plans to spread mass education were not realized nor were vernacular high schools established. It did not sincerely promote universal literacy. The Dispatch could not visualize the progress of Indian aspirations even after a century.

As you know soon after 1857 revolt, the East India Company was dissolved and the government came directly under the British Crown. As a consequence, efforts were made to consolidate the empire and education was somewhat neglected.

Hunter Commission Vocationalization of Education:

Hunter Commission was appointed in 1882 to examine the implementation of the Dispatch of 1854, which tried to streamline school education into two streams of high school: one leading to the university education and the other to the commercial, vocational and technical education.

This was the first attempt to diversify school curriculum and introduce vocational education. However, despite the specific recommendations and emphasis of the Hunter Commission on commercial, vocational or non-literary education, neither the public nor the Govt. appreciated the value of this practical suggestion and the recommendations were totally ignored.

Not much was done in this regard in last hundred fifty years, not even in free India