HC Deb 29 April 1908 vol 187 cc1338-72
*MR. LAIDLAW (Renfrewshire, E.)

, in calling attention to the present educational conditions in India and moving "That the time has come for an impartial and searching inquiry into the scope, character, and methods of education in India," said that he did not propose, in moving that Resolution, to occupy the time of the House at any great length. If he were bringing forward a Resolution for the adoption of any great change in our educational system in India it would be incumbent upon him to bring forward facts and figures in support of any argument lie might advance. But he was not doing that; he was simply calling for an inquiry, and in doing that he should represent to the House the feelings and opinions of a large number of people who were interested in this question, and who were able to judge of the merits of the present system. But before proceeding he would like to congratulate the Secretary of State for India on having appointed, last year, a Committee to look after the interests of the Indian students who came to this country to complete their studies. That Committee, he understood, had now completed its labours, and he trusted that in the more serene atmosphere of another place, the noble Lord the Secretary of State would make some pronouncement as to what was to be done in regard to the recommendations made by that Committee. During a long residence in India, and during a recent visit, he had talked with all sorts and conditions of people in regard to this great question, and he had not found anyone who approved of our present methods in any branch of education in that country, and the results of this lay at the root of much of the discontent and unrest which unhappily prevailed in some parts of India at the present moment. He was not able to-day to propose a remedy. When it came to questions of reform, he had the authority of no less a personage than Sir Theodore Morrison for saying that there were as many views with regard to what should be done, as there were people engaged in the Educational Department of India, What was wanted was a thorough and impartial investigation. There had been no general inquiry with regard to our educational methods in India since the Royal Commission in 1882, and during the twenty-six years which had since elapsed he was sure that everyone would agree that more changes had taken place in India than in all the past 200 years during which we had been associated with that country. It was high time that we had another independent investigation. What he contended was required at this time was an impartial investigation. He would deprecate an inquiry by any of those estimable gentlemen who were connected with the working of the educational machinery in India. They were liable to be somewhat prejudiced, and somewhat Conservative. They were likely to be somewhat opposed to change, and what was wanted was that some fresh minds should be brought to bear on the subject. He mould like investigations to begin with an inquiry into the scope of our educational work. They were all aware that the Indian Government for some years had pronounced most emphatically in favour of further elementary education. The Indian Government had been looking towards that for some years, and they continued to look in that direction without making any real progress towards that object. He would like to quote Lord Curzon with regard to the position of the Government of India. In a speech which he made shortly after he went to India in 1901, in connection with an education Conference at Simla, he said— Primary education, by which I understand the teaching of the masses in the vernacular, opens a wide and a very contested field of study. I am one of those who think that the Government has not fulfilled its duty in this respect. Then after giving some reasons, the lack of vernacular literature being one reason, Lord Curzon went on to say— My second reason is even wider in its application. What is the greatest danger to India. What is the source of superstition, outbreaks of crime, yes, also of much agrarian discontent and suffering among the masses? It is ignorance. And what is the only antidote to ignorance? Knowledge. And in proportion as we teach the masses so shall we make their lot happier, and in proportion as they are happier so will they become more useful members of the body politic. We were proud of what we had done in India in by gone generations, but it was very sad to find that not more than one-sixth of the boys of school age and a very much smaller proportion of the girls were yet in school. There were only 98 per 1,000 of the male natives of India and 7 per 1,000 of the female natives who could read the vernacular. Then the amount of money spent upon education in India was deplorably inadequate. It worked out at 1½d. per head of the children of school age. He would be out of order if he suggested any special means of raising f ands, but there was a widespread feeling, not only in this country but also in India, that what we were spending on our military defences in India was altogether out of proportion to what we were spending on education. Personally, he very strongly supported that view. He held that there was no necessity to-day for the large military expenditure being maintained at the point at which it stood thirty years ago. He did not base that opinion so much upon our good relations with our neighbours as upon the fact that communication was very much easier now and that it only took days where formerly it took weeks to transport troops from outlying and southern districts to the North-West frontier. He thought the Government would do well to consider the question of reducing the military expenditure in India as soon as possible and of applying what was saved to the cause of elementary education. He was told when he was at Calcutta a short time ago by a very high authority that a special tax for education would be popular, and he was sure that that would be so in some of the provinces. This question of primary education alone 'justified them in asking for an inquiry as to existing methods and how far they could be improved. When they came to the question of secondary and higher education, there was a diversity of view as to what should be done. It was universally held that our present method was not the best, and that there was vast room for improvement; they were driven to that conclusion by results. The Government and some of the great missionary societies had done a great deal for higher education. They had vied with each other in providing this at very low cost to those ready and willing to receive it. The result had been that a large number of men had gone through the colleges and taken university degrees and were now suffering from the kind of education that had been given them, and a great many of them could see for themselves that the course of training they had undergone had not been such as fitted them for such careers as were open to them. It had been a great deal too literary. They had memorised a great deal of English classical literature, and had, gone through numerous examinations. Their whole training had not been sufficiently scientific and practical, and the result was that there were to-day crowds of educated men who looked to those who had provided their education to provide them practically with a career, and with everything else in life, instead of looking to themselves to develop the great resources of the country. These resources as it was were being left to be exploited by people who had no special or permanent connection with or interest in the country. That was not as it should be. Everybody in India was agreed upon that. But when it came to a question of a remedy, there was great diversity of opinion, and for that reason he, for one, was not prepared to make any suggestion; it would be exceedingly foolish in view of the manifold variety of opinion to dogmatise at all with regard to any particular remedy. The whole system of education all the way through was being starved for want of money. That was the root of the whole evil. There was an altogether inadequate supply of teachers, and they did not always get the very best material because the inducements offered did not attract talent to the profession. Then they were lacking in training colleges. If they had training colleges, and offered better inducements, things would very speedily improve in that respect. The fact of the matter was that the whole system was starved, and the Government of India should resolutely face the question of providing in a very much more liberal manner than they had done hitherto for this great work. He would not like to say—there would, perhaps, be no justification for saying—that the domiciled community had not received their due share of educational facilities compared with, what was spent upon the natives, but they saw that in that connection in regard to the money devoted to the education of the domiciled community how painfully inadequate the amount was. These people, especially the Eurasians, were in an exceedingly difficult position. There was no scope for them amongst the labouring classes, and even the most incompetent amongst them, without a fairly good education which would enable them to take a clerkship, or something of that kind, were in an exceedingly difficult and deplorable condition, and the demand for some better provision for their education and uplift was very strongly called for. Referring again to the discontent and unrest that prevailed in some parts of the country, in making inquiries he found it was very largely a schoolboy agitation. They had set their hands to the plough and must not look back. A great deal of the trouble arose from the fact that these lads were half-educated. The kind of education they had received had not been on the right lines, and they must remember that a little knowledge was a dangerous thing. We were not in India by chance or for what we could get out of the country. We were there for the uplifting of the people. He sometimes thought it would be one of the best things we could do for that country greatly to enlarge the facilities for adequate and proper education on the right lines. A few years ago a popular soldier was sent to India with practically a free hand to spend ten millions of money in making a new redistribution of the troops. He wished they could send an educational expert and enthusiast to India with a free hand to spend not £10,000,000, but £20,000,000 or £30,000 000 during the next ten years. That would be one of the finest things—it would make those ten years the best and the work done would redound more to our credit in connection with our relations with India than anything during our past connection. He had not come forward with any suggestion of his own with regard to a remedy. He had no change to propose at this stage. All he asked was that there should be an impartial inquiry as to the scope, character, and methods of our educational system in India. He begged to move.

MR. HART-DAVIES (Hackney, N.)

in seconding the Resolution, said how very much they regretted that the new Under - Secretary for India was not present. He was sure he would wish to have been there, and made his first appearance as representative of India on a question so extremely far-reaching and important as this. He was quite sure, from the Imperial point of view, it was an extremely important question. He took a peculiar interest in it because some years ago he was at the head of the Education Department in a large though rather backward province in India, and he remembered how very much they were handicapped, by want not only of funds, but of any determinate plans, so to speak, on which education was being carried on. There was no doubt our educational position in India was profoundly unsatisfactory for various reasons, as to both quantity and quality. We spent on education in India with its population of 250,000,000 only about £3,000,000. Compared with the expenditure on education in England that was ludicrous. Fees accounted for about £1,000,000 of that, £1,500,000 were derived from provincial, municipal, and local funds, and the rest was provided by the Government of India. That was an absurdly small amount to spend on a huge country like India where education was extremely valued. There was no want of enthusiasm for education in India. It was only the want of money that prevented the development of education. That was a most deplorable thing, and it reflected a certain amount of discredit on us as a ruling race in India that we spent so much money on fortifications on the North-West against a purely imaginary danger. When he remembered that we might have spent all that money on education, he was not exactly proud of the Government of India. As regarded primary education he thought there should be in every village a primary school, and that education should be free, and they ought to have in as many places as possible a secondary school. Education was perhaps more important in India than in any other country in the world. He had a great deal to do at o time with a certain department which had to deal with agricultural indebtedness. Agriculture was the principal industry of India, and one of the principal reasons of the distress of agriculturists was that they were in a state of indebtedness all over the country and were in the hands of the money-lenders. He did not want to say anything against the moneylenders who performed a useful part. They served to bridge over hard times, and on the whole he did not know that they were more grasping or more hard than money-lenders in any other part of the world. But when he looked into the debts and the history of their indebtedness, he found that one of the principal causes why agriculturists were in such a hopeless condition was that they were unable to contest the figures of their creditors or to tell the history of the debt, being unable to read or write. They could not keep any check whatever on the operations of the moneylenders, and that was one of the reasons why they wanted education. If the people could only learn how to read and write and add simple figures, that would make a very great difference in their well-being. There was also a great want of technical education in India, although there was no want of technical ability. More agricultural instruction was also required. This want had, he was aware, been removed of late to a certain extent, but not so much as it ought to have been. There was a great deal more required to be done in all the secondary branches of education. In alluding to higher education one touched upon more difficult ground. He was aware that some people held the view that the higher education in our universities only tended to make disloyal subjects. This was the fault not so much of the education as of the manner in which it was imparted. In the old days more individual attention was paid to the students by the professors in our universities. This was important because the Indian student was a man who responded very readily to sympathy. He was extremely amenable, and if they could introduce more of the old personal feeling. which used to exist between the professors and their pupils, they would be going a long distance towards removing some of the evils of the system of higher education in India. Under the present system the young man had to study with a large class of other students, and the professors could not introduce that personal sympathy which was the true secret of all our rule in India, and the want of which was the real root of all our difficulties. This was all a matter of money, for if they sent out more professors and had a more-careful selection of students they would do away with a good many of the difficulties. The present system might be described as pouring new wine into old bottles. The Indian students had already assimilated the philosophy of the West, but they did not know how to apply it because they had not been properly trained and led by the sympathetic treatment of their professors to understand what western ideas really meant, He had met Indian gentlemen of high education with whom he could talk as freely as he could with any Englishman, and who could speak with him on equal terms on these great questions. They had to take care that the rising generation of India was brought up in such a way that they would be able to absorb the real spirit of western culture and assimilate it to the spirit of eastern culture. If they would treat Indian students in this way they would find that a great many of the difficulties existing at present would disappear. They were bound to go forward in this matter because it was too late to turn back. If they persevered with the sympathetic treatment of these Indian students he felt sure that in the future they would have no reason to complain of having introduced western culture in India. He was aware that for all these things they required more money, and they would have to spend a great deal more money in the future upon education in India. It was necessary for them to introduce fresh spheres of industry. India was not a poor but a rich country, enormously rich in mines, but the natural resources of India were not properly exploited. To do that, more education was required. It was lamentable the amount of brain-power that was being wasted in India. Many new industries might be introduced. Some hope should be held out that the Government of India would institute an inquiry into the present condition of education in India and suggest how it might be improved and developed.

Motion made, and Question proposed." That the time has come for an impartial and searching inquiry into the scope, character, and methods of education in India.—(Mr. Laidlaw.)

*MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)

expressed regret that during the discussion of this subject the Government of India were not represented on the Government Benches. It was a very serious state of affairs. It was also to be regretted that the head of a great Department like the India Office should not sit in that House, but in another place. He endorsed what had been said by the mover and seconder of the Resolution concerning the importance of the question of the education of the people of India. The condition of the village industries of India could be vastly improved if only technical instruction were imparted to those who has followed certain occupations for ages, but who continued to pursue them in accordance with the methods which obtained generations ago. It had been estimated that the produce of the soil at present under cultivation in India might be increased by from 30 to 50 per cent. if more modern methods of agriculture were employed. It could not be alleged that the paucity of education in India was due to any want of desire on the part of the people to have better education for their children. One of the things that impressed him most in the country villages of India was to find the sons of ryots coming long distances and paying what for them were heavy fees in order to attend school. The village schools were crowded. There was the further fact to be borne in mind that owing to the action of the Government in this matter there was now growing up in India, and especially in Bengal, and educational movement apart altogether from and without the control of the Government educational institutions. It was entirely owing to the policy which was being pursued towards the schools both of the higher and of the lower grades. In this, as in many other respects, the native states were setting an example which might with advantage be followed by our own Government. Baroda and Mysore in particular stood out as examples of what could be done when the Government determined to make education a matter of real importance. In Mysore for example, according to the figures in the Inspector's Report for 1906, the expenditure on schools was made up of 78 per cent. from public funds, 11 per cent. from fees, the remainder being made good from endowments and other sources of income of a miscellaneous character. In East Bengal the figures were 45 per cent. from public funds, 38 per cent. from fees. He thought these figures were in themselves sufficient to justify some inquiry into the methods of education. According to the Inspector's Report the amount spent on education in the State of Mysore was equal to a rate of four annas per head of the population, and according to the figures given by his hon. friend opposite the expenditure in British India amounted to something less than 1d. per head. In Baroda education for all classes was free and compulsory. What was being done by native States ought surely to be done under British administration. He rose particularly to give one or two illustrations of the way in which the authorities were seeking to hamper and interfere with the education of the youth of India. He would not refer on that occasion to the University Commission Report, where it was expressly laid down that the fees for entrance to the higher grade schools should not be so low as to encourage boys to enter them who were not suited for rising in the higher walks of life. He wanted to deal in particular with what was known as the Barisal case. In a circular which had been issued by the Indian Home Office it was laid down that certain schools were being used for the purpose of political propaganda. Certain pains and penalties were outlined which were to be applied to schools in which political propaganda was indulged in. During his visit to Barisal a case was brought to his notice which he thought the representatives of the India Office ought to know about, with the view, if possible, of having it put right. In April last year Mr. Sharp, Inspector of Education, complained that the schools at Barisal were being used as a sort of harbour of refuge for rebels and others, that one of the professors had preached sedition in certain villages, and that one of the students had attended a meeting at which seditious speeches were made. The head of the institution pointed out that the student had withdrawn from the college altogether, his time being expired before the meeting referred to, that he had made it a rule not to allow students to take part in such meetings, and that the professor referred to was on holiday at the time he committed the alleged offence. The correspondence on this matter went on for some time. The police of the district supplied the authorities as usual with all sorts of misleading information, and the final result was that the grant to the school was withdrawn, and the threat held out that the right to be examined for entrance to Calcutta University would be withdrawn. It seemed to him that that was a case requiring some investigation. He had gone through the whole of the correspondence, and there was no proof to substantiate the charges which had been levelled against the school or its administration. That being so the school ought to be allowed to continue its privileges until at least something could be proved against it. At Seraj-Gunge there were two higher grade schools of a semi-private kind. Both enjoyed a reputation as centres of education. It appeared that in April last year a local banker was alleged to have been assaulted by school boys. The official statement showed that what he complained of was that the boys made a noise, that his horse shied, that stones were thrown, and that his hat fell to the ground. Beyond that nothing seemed to have happened, but the Government education authorities insited on the schools managers discovering the boys alleged to have been guilty of the assault and having them punished. The master replied that he did not know the boys and that it was not his business to play the part of the police. Then the grant to the school was withdrawn, and it was still withdrawn, and boys who desired to go up to the university for examination were barred from doing so. He respectfully submitted that action of that kind was not consistent with our whole policy with regard to education. If anyone had been guilty, by all means let him be punished, but to punish a whole school for what might have been the horseplay of a few boys was neither logical nor just. He hoped a promise would be given on behalf of the Government that there would be full inquiry into the whole of the state of education in India, and especially into the question how far the Government of India was punishing schools for alleged political malpractices which had not been shown to exist. No one could visit India without being impressed with the great need which existed for the better education of Indian children. If only a tenth part of the money which was being wasted on military operations were diverted to education, the result would be a gain to the people of India and increased prestige to the people at home.

*MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

congratulated the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil on the comparatively moderate speech he had made. He agreed with much of what had been said regarding the native States, but he would point out that the hon. Member had been most unfortunate in his selection of the native States which he had named. It was quite true that education in Mysore was highly developed, but hon. Members knew that this development occurred under the administration of the Government of India, and when the rendition took place the public servants, whom the Government of India had employed were retained. The administration of Mysore continued up to the present day was as British in character as it was during the fifty years when the administration was actually British. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion had asked why they should waste so much money on the defence of India instead of spending it on education. It was because of the peace which our military expenditure introduced in India that they were able to attend to education at all. Previously, the native States were employed in petty warfare with one another, and there was no education at all. No hon. Gentleman had been able to make out any case against the British Government in this respect. He would ask the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Resolution, and who had travelled as very few men had, why he should condemn the insularity of this House in debating at such length the proper number of public-houses, while he ignored the fact that if it were not for the military expenditure in India there would not be that peace which, he would allow, made education possible. The hon. Member for Nottingham seemed to imagine that we could maintain peace, perfect peace in India by means of agreement with European powers and withdraw the British Army.

SIR H. COTTON (Nottingham, E.)

said he never made such a statement.


said that he thought that the hon. Member's little book on India practically stated what he had just said. He thought that the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil was unfortunate in citing the case of Mysore, and he objected to any deductions regarding the treatment of educational institutions by the Government of India being drawn from the district of Barisal. That was the only district in India in which the Government found it necessary to apply the Seditious Meetings Act. He protested against any deductions being made from what had taken place in one town of one district of one province in the great Empire of India. His hon. friend who moved the Resolution was anxious that the Government of India should spend immensely large sums on education, but where was he going to get the money? This was not a case in which the Government had a Monte Cristo gold mine. To carry out the hon. Member's views the taxation of India would have to be enormously increased, and that was the one thing which should be most carefully avoided. The hon. Member had talked about sending out an enthusiast on education with thirty millions of money, but he protested that an enthusiast would probably do an infinite amount of mischief. Was it to be supposed that our fellow countrymen, with their long experience of government in India, were so ignorant or malevolent that they did not make the best possible use of the money collected from the people, and that that money should be largely increased for the purpose of hurling education at those who—he did not say did not want it, but who were not in a position to pay for it, and did not ask for more of it? His hon. friend who moved the motion bad said that there had been no inquiry into education in India since Sir William Hunter's Commission in 1882. Surely his hon. friend did not believe that nothing could be done without a Commission of Inquiry During the last five years the whole educational system of India had been over-hauled in the completest way possible; there had been arrangements made for co-ordination which had never been possible before; the heads of departments had met together and had made every possible effort to improve the educational system. He admitted that this question was of the greatest importance, but it should not be judged as at least one hon. Gentleman had judged it, from the standpoint of the conduct of a few students in one school in one district in one province. That was not the way to bring such an important question before the House. His hon. friend the mover had said that be wanted free elementary education throughout India. Did the Iron Gentleman know what the parents of the children really paid for elementary education in India? It was the merest bagatelle, and elementary education was already practically free. If the hon. Gentleman meant that the State was to provide large sums of money to build schools in every village in India, he was proposing to penalise the people of the country to an extent that could be hardly appreciated. They would have to screw up the Land Tax, which was at present moderate, to the sort of figure which was falsely and ignorantly asserted now obtained. Again, with what countries was the education in India compared when the backward condition of education in India was spoken of? It was said that four out of every five Indian villages had no school, that three out of every four boys had no education, that only one girl out of every forty was at school. But hon. Members were comparing- an Oriental Empire with this island; and was there any reason in that? There was no possible basis for a comparision between an Oriental Empire and a Western island. If his friends wanted to contrast the relative goodness or badness of the education in our Indian Empire, let them compare it with that of other Oriental countries. [An HON. MEMBER: Japan.] But Japan was only one country and he regretted he had not the facts, but he understood that already some of the characteristic virtues of the people were threatened. The nearest Oriental country to India was China, and nobody had thought that the information in regard to education in China was worth collecting. He submitted that to compare the educational figures of India with those of this country was to fall into a gulf of insularity that was abysmal. If knowledge was not comparative, what value could attach to the statements of his hon. friend? They were told that there were 1,000,000 natives in India who were to some extent literate in English. The inference he drew from that fact was that so much attention should not be paid to those who spoke for this small fraction of the population, but that an attempt should be made to get at. the feelings of the real masses, who were not denationalised, and who had not forsaken all the habits and customs of their country. His hon. friend had referred to Sir W. Hunter's Commission. He remembered that Sir W. Hunter said that, as the result of the present educational system, the original principles of which had been laid down in 1854, we should have a loyal India, and that the educated classes would not want to get rid of us. Now, if there was one class which desired to get rid of us it was that very class of people who had received a sort of English education. The education given to the masses of the people of India where it was desired, should be suited to those who received it; it should be given in the vernacular, and should lay before them the former state of the country, the anarchy and misery from which they had emerged, and the great benefits they now enjoyed from British rule. That was far from the result upon those who were at present literate in English. No reference had been made by the hon. Members who had moved and seconded the Resolution to the fact that the present Secretary of State for India had appointed two educationists to his Council, one a native gentleman of great experience in education in a native State, and the other a European of high educational authority. The present Government of India, under Lord Minto, was also considering what great advantage could be gained by making elementary education throughout India free—a proposition which he understood from inquiry had not met with very general support. Then, comments had been made by his hon. friends upon the expenditure on education in India. He saw that there had been an annual increase in the last thirty years of a quarter of a million in the amount spent upon education, He did not know why this should be the subject of criticism, when he considered that eighty per cent. of the population of India were agriculturists in a small way, and were not in need of that kind of education which would make them discontented with their occupation and their rulers. It was at least doubtful, in his opinion, whether there was any particular need for taxing them in order to hurl at them a system of education for which they had not asked. The sum spent on education produced annually 1,500 B.A.'s and 8,000 graduates whose conduct had not been such as to encourage the Government to make the sum larger. Was it certain that this sum was inadequate to meet the requirements of the State? His memory would not serve him to recall the many classes of colleges and schools which existed in India, and it was extraordinary that this system of education should be so complex, so complete, and so widely dispersed in India as it was. It was not as if it were a case of European countries, where the Government had yielded yard by yard in resistance to the demand made upon it, but the Government of India had, out of its own conscientiousness and its own sense of what was right and just to the people, practically thrust upon them this education. He did not say that the people had not readily assimilated it, that was to say, the upper classes, such as the Brahmins, the landlords, and particularly those in Bengal—those upper castes whose electioneering talent and political instinct were so great that although they were members of a privileged class, and aristocrats of the most distinguished position, they had persuaded the democratic Members of this House, who sat upon the opposite bench and the Radical Ambers who sat on that side, that they were their natural allies, and had induced them to make common cause against the interests of the masses of their fellow-countrymen. What was this education in India into which they were asked to have an inquiry? There were five Universities after the model of the University of London, and they controlled nearly 200 colleges and about 23,000 students. It was originally intended that supervising officers should inspect these colleges in order that they should be kept in some control; but that did not happen, and these colleges had been left to their own devices. Very soon it became apparent that English education had a marketable value however imperfect it was, and these colleges were used not for the furtherance of education or for the keeping up of educational standards, but for the easy acquirement of a Bachelorship of Arts, or failing that a subordinate qualification which might give a claim to a clerkship. In this way the standard of education fell below that which was originally intended and which the Government desired to keep up, and a conference was held on the subject in 1905. The Government of India proposed to the provincial governments of India that they should make the care of elementary education in India one of their chief concerns, and not only did the former Government profess that desire but they gave a grant of some £200,000 a year for the purpose of assisting local governments to carry it out, and they had made that grant annually ever since. It had become absolutely necessary that the senates of these Universities and the governing bodies should be reconstituted, and they were reconstituted by an Act passed after the fullest possible inquiry by the late Viceroy after communication with every important educational authority in India, in order to keep up the standard of those colleges which were affiliated to those Universities. And what was the result? A storm of protest, and the Viceroy who had carried that measure left India under a cloud of obloquy, and amidst a storm of abuse. This was because of the reform of these Universities and colleges in order to keep up the standard of education and prevent them from turning out half educated graduates and scholars. The object of the scholars too often was not education but to write B.A. after their names, and it was because he desired to prevent this state of things that the late Viceroy left India one of the most unpopular of men, and it was this and nothing else which led to his being the victim of most gross and unfair abuse by the vernacular Press of Bengal. The Government properly proceeded on the basis of allowing the Universities to reform themselves. An inspector of education, Mr. Orange, was brought out from England, and after his arrival he believed a new era of educational efficiency began in India, just as a new era of administrative efficiency began in England when the House of Orange came here. He did not attribute this, however, to the introduction of a stranger from England to the chief place in the educational hierarchy. Another step had been taken by the late administration in India. The Government of India had the courage to point out that in the schools of India the vernacular was not sufficiently taught. That was the fact, and it was also the fact that our public servants were not able to converse easily with the natives. The Government insisted that education should be given in the vernacular language, and no step was more necessary in our educational arrangements in India. Then as to secondary education, new training schools had been opened; and in regard to primary education, more and better teachers were appointed, the inspecting staff was increased, and the industrial and commercial branches were developed. He could remember the way in which senates of Universities were formed. Everybody who was of any importance, or thought himself to be of any importance, became a fellow of his local University. In the time of the late Viceroy this matter was altered and senates more capable of performing the duties were appointed. In addition hostels were founded in order to give the students somewhere to live, a most necessary provision, because he would really hesitate to tell the House the manner in which those students who ought to be in a state of pupilage lived, and the conditions of the quarters of the towns in which they dwelt. Efforts were also made to remove politics from the purview of these educational institutions, and to keep boys from college out of brawls in which they were far too prone to indulge. But the reforms which had lately taken place did not stop there Training schools were opened for Hindoo and Mahomedan widows and the wives of masters, so that there might be women capable of inspection for education purposes, and of giving zenana teaching to girls of high class families. Another step had been taken by improving Bengal into two administrations with equal rank, the original province, equal in size to over a dozen Scotlands and in population to two Great Britains and Irelands, having been too large to manage. He thought that these and other measures ought to be mentioned to show that the Government of India did not lie under the accusation of being indifferent to education or had not provided sufficient funds for it. A searching inquiry into the scope, character, and methods of education in India was in his judgment uncalled for and might at the present moment do more harm than good. Nothing could be less justifiable than this charge, though of course it might fairly be said against our system of education that it destroyed that reverence for authority which was desirable, and that instead of being brought up to reverence his parents, his religion, his country, and his Government, the Indian student was brought up now to show no respect for anybody else, and little for himself. A change was needed in that respect. The Government of India worked under extraordinary limitations. It had to divorce education from religion and it was not to be supposed that this particular difficulty had escaped its notice. The Government of India had had it before them over and over again and they had attempted to deal with a by prescribing text-books and by other measures. But the difficulty was inherent in the situation. The Government of India could only be neutral as to religious instruction, and therefore we should have to put up with this difficulty and the difficulties we were now exposed to would multiply and increase. He had seen a statement made by the superintendent of the municipal schools of Bombay. That gentleman was a Parsee and there- fore impartial as well as capable. He said— The Indian student does not command much influence among the masses of his countrymen and does not represent them. He believed that to be literally true. There must be something wrong he thought about a system of education which produced students of whom such things could be said and which turned out so many lawyers that the people talked of our Government as the "Kingdom of the Lawyers." These lawyers said: "Who says we are not capable of ruling India? We rule India now." Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal had said that. Yes, but subject to the impartial British supervision. It was that feature of the system of which they desired to be rid. Did his hon. friend approve of the character of the educational establishments in Bengal, for instance, and of their results? He did not think an inquiry of the kind asked for would remove the real educational difficulty of our government of India. He did not know how it could be removed, but if it could it would be a great step forward. Those who were responsible for this system of education so little knew what they were doing that Lord Macauley in 1836 said that if his advice was taken there would not be an idolator in Bengal in thirty years time! If any change was to be made it should be in the direction of going back as far as possible to the vernacular languages. We wanted to depart from the principle of teaching everything through the medium of the English language and from inculcating the principle that anything that is good for this country must of a necessity be good for India. If the hon. Gentleman could institute an inquiry or Commission which would remove this difficulty, he himself would gladly vote for it. But because he believed that no inquiry would be able to solve this question and that an inquiry now would only have the effect of stirring up factious agitation which was now on the wane, he should vote against the Motion.

*SIR J. JARDINE (Roxburghshire)

said the hon. Member had spoken strongly against the Motion, but he was only a private Member, and the House had the right to hear any political reasons there might be against the inquiry from the responsible representative of the India Office. In these Indian debates there were so many Members of great Indian experience and sometimes of high position who wished to speak that they were almost bound to speak with their eyes on the clock.

Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted; and, forty Members being found present—


continuing, said that this being the great inquest of the nation it must not be supposed that the discussion must mean censure of the Government of India. He agreed very much with what had been said by the mover and seconder of the Resolution, and concurred in the view that more education was wanted, and that it would have an extremely beneficial effect on the masses of the people. It was necessary to put the ryots and the peasantry upon something like fair terms with the money-lenders and. the petty officials who now tormented them. Without doubt, in regard to processes of agriculture and manufacture of many kinds, technical education would prove a great blessing in India. He had had the opportunity of observing the work done by colleges and Universities in higher education, and he could say that in India, as in this country, and as in Ancient Greece, learning had been well justified of her children. Much of the improvement, the social reforms, the progress in practical arts and in development of the resources of the country had been started and carried out by natives who had received the benefit of higher education. It was one of those matters which might well be submitted to inquiry. It was admitted that by means of the colleges and Universities the public service had been supplied and advanced both in learning and integrity. That was one of the commonplaces they might hear any day from Indian statesmen at prize-givings. The new education had really changed the whole state of things. The subject was often complicated by discussions as to the effect of University education upon speculative political thought and the loyalty of the people. He thought these things were beyond the question. It was difficult to know how much was due to education. Once they had wakened up the mind to think in unaccustomed grooves then they got an element of speculative thought thrown across the landscape of life and what the result would be no one could tell. He thought they might leave these matters out of consideration. The same kind of objection was raised in Ancient Greece when the questioning methods of philosophers like Socrates began to make people think. He was charged with sapping the moral foundations on which the ancient order reposed, with unsettling the minds of youth. Supposing it was true, it could still be said that by education much of the ancient fanaticism had been exploded. He thought a case had been made out as to whether the time had not come for a much greater extension of education in India. They all knew there were great difficulties in the way; those who had had most to do with India were most aware of that fact. Many of the people who forty or fifty years ago were obstinately against any great change were, however, now willing. He would urge that inquiry might be made into the question as to how far the Government had gone forward or had been guilty of shortcoming in getting the natives to join in the management of every sort of educational concern. The chief value of high bodies of learning in India was that Europeans and natives met on terms of learned and academical equality and there was a large exchange of views. Where they had western people laying down the law for oriental communities that was a very desirable thing, and it might be carried out much further. He thought there would be a great advantage in having sonic such inquiry as had been suggested by the hon. Member who moved the Resolution. It was evading the question to try and make out that this was some sort of censure upon the Government of India. It was waste of time to lavish praise on distinguished Viceroys whom no speaker had abused. He would remind the House of an ancient Latin problem: Whoever found fault with Hercules? The Motion raised a very serious question. It was admitted that the money spent annually on education in India was nothing great. There was a tendency now in the highest official circles in India to make elementary education free, and there was a great discussion of the subject going on in England. It would be a good thing if this inquiry were begun, even if it were confined to one province and to finding out what methods had been successful there. If the inquiry took place in the small province of Burma where there had been uncommonly good results through establishing a popular Educational Board, where not only departmental officials but all the learned professions, the missionary colleges, and the Buddist monks were well represented, he could understand that it would be an advantage to the officials when the report was sent in. He wished particularly to endorse what his hon. friend had said as to the great advantage of the professors sent out from this country being imbued a great deal with a knowledge of oriental people and a great regard for them. The great danger now was that we might be altogether too western in our notions. In old times it was sometimes said that every European who went out to India used to degenerate towards the oriental character. Sir James Mackintosh recorded that the mild ones among us became Brahmanised and the haughtier ones sultanised. There were disadvantages but also advantages in that, and he thought the danger now was that in the administration of education as well as of other things we might not be giving sufficient weight to the feelings of the people, their learning, their traditions, their religions, and generally to the pervading influences of that peculiar world in which they had been born and in which they had grown up and into which we had been pitched. Therefore, for such reasons as had occurred to him in the course of the debate, he should support the Resolution.

*SIR HENRY CRAIK (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)

said he could not claim to speak with the export knowledge of those who had addressed the House, but the subject of education necessarily had a special interest for him, and he had long made the subject of Education in India a matter of special study. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil had expressed surprise that so few members were present to listen to the debate, and he especially singled out the Opposition as failing in that respect; but, if educational discussion at home were to turn upon questions of that kind, upon the vast differences between the west and the east, upon certain political discussions and differences, and upon divergencies on purely financial questions, he wondered what interest they would raise in the House even if the Motion related to education at home. It was not at all necessary to enter upon these wider questions in connection with education. Could they not leave them open and direct their attention to the very definite questions which called for solution? The House was not provided with the necessary material for fully discussing the question; and, even when they did get to discussing it, instead of confining themselves to purely educational matters they got into all sorts of side issues of caste and political divergencies. There were two or three educational matters which struck him as requiring attention and amendment in India. He would not say this if he depended merely on his own knowledge, but he was convinced he would have the agreement of the majority of those actually engaged in the administration of India and especially of education there. His own observation on the spot had only confirmed those views. The first of these was no doubt the difficulty that had been referred to, that the education was too bookish and not sufficiently practical. That was quite true, but how could they teach technical art and workmanship in a country where the particular inhabitants were brought up to inherit a particular trade and not to interfere with any other? They were carpenters or weavers, or followed some inherited and well-defined handicraft, and they would not change. It was very hard to spread technical knowledge of a general kind among a population of that sort. In fact the question of technical education n India was a subject of vast difficulty. No one could fail to be impressed by its defects, and also by its urgent need; but the utmost caution was required in seeing how to engraft it upon the local conditions. As for the question of free education, it was almost a mockery to speak of it. The fee paid was very often something like two annas a month or a nominal fee of that sort. In most cases there was also some payment in kind, but such payment in kind was traditional and usual. He wanted rather to come to that part of education which came more prominently before an Englishman visiting India, and on which he was perhaps able to form a better opinion. The first defect he had seen in the secondary schools, comparing them with our own, was what applied there far more than in elementary schools—the lack of any practical technical education. It seemed to him as he went through school after school that there was a mildew over the work in this respect. He would give only one instance. He remembered having been shown by the head of one of these schools an instrument for taking Marconi messages. He asked with what place they were connected and was told there was no connection and that it was simply an instrument to show how a message was taken. It was of no more value for technical education than a toy, giving no scientific knowledge of the subject at all. The same sort of thing spread through it all and no one was more ready to admit the defects than the heads of some of these colleges. There was another defect which went far deeper, and that was that the education, faulty and defective as it was, was far too much regulated by the evil system of examinations. He was not going to praise or blame those who established the educational system in India. It was established at a time when the worship of competitive examinations held full sway and when it was believed that it and it alone was to regenerate education. He referred to the ideas prevaling in the third quarter of last century. We had learnt better. We had learnt that the system was thoroughly false, and were getting quit of it as fast as we could from our schools. More and more we were feeling that it was wrong, that it took away from the teacher the real influence that he ought to have, and that it made school work a degrading and not a fruitful pursuit. That was exactly what they had got and what they apparently could not break away from in India. He remembered a conversation he had with one of the very best of the principals of these schools, who told him how he was held down in all his work by the necessity of preparing exclusively for these examinations. He must work his scholars solely for matriculation or the first B.A. examination or some or other of the University examinations. He said— Why, do you know what I have been doing to-day. I have been teaching these Indian boys 'Silas Marner,' and Shelley's 'Ode to a Skylark.' They could not understand one word of it. They could not get that into the minds of these people. A book like "Silas Marner" was absolutely unintelligible to an Eastern student. Yet against his will, knowing that it was doing no good, this able and highly qualified principal was being forced to teach according to this treadmill work. He knew the difficulties perfectly well. He knew the hon. Gentleman would put forward the difficulty of getting rid of the system, and point out that they could not without it maintain any uniform standard or trust the localities not to undersell each other. That might be true. He admitted the difficulty; but unless they could get over that some way or other, and get rid of this competitive system, they would never have real education in India. One other point he would press on the hon. Gentleman. He was not in favour of a new Commission of Inquiry. Let them not pull things up constantly by the roots to see how they were growing. It was the worst thing in the world. Let them leave education to grow by itself. If any official went wrong let them hang him. Let them bring him to book and turn him off, but let them not interfere with his work by a constant recourse to the meddling of Commissions. He knew what these Commissions would do. They had had a tendency already to this interference of officialism at home. Personally he regretted the sending out of a junior official from England to take a portion of authority over old and experienced men. The hon. Member who had moved the Resolution hoped that no one connected with Indian education would be a Member of the Commission—no one, that was to say, who had given his life to the work, and necessarily knew it. In sending out a Commission which was to be exempt from any sort of experience, to be drawn from new men, who were to be dumped upon India without knowledge of the vernacular, which could only be slowly acquired, would be to commit over again the mistake that was made between 1850 and 1860, when this county dumped upon India its new idea of competitive examination. Let them try to develop the genius of the Indian people on their own lines and get rid, if they could, of that absurd idea that they could only teach higher education through the medium of the English language. The very same Principal whose words he had just quoted told him that the very best student of philosophy he had ever met with in India could not get his degree in philosophy on the verdict of the examiners, although they all agreed with the Principal in placing him at the highest intellectual level, simply because he was not familiar with the English language. Could there be anything more absurd? They had to train these natives to take their place in native States as Indian gentlemen, Indian landlords, and leaders of Indian society, which was far better than that they should be Babus or lawyers or agitators. Why should they be taught that no knowledge can come except through the language of a Western island? Some of the wisest men he had met amongst our own administrators regretted this superstitious cultivation of the English language among the natives. One very high official, in all but the highest official rank in India, told him that he had called on an Indian gentleman and finding his children alone in the room he began to speak to them in Hindustani. They said they did not know the language, but if he would speak in English they could understand him. So far had this superstition gone that in certain Indian families the children were discouraged from speaking in their own vernacular, but were encouraged to speak in a foreign language. He was not in favour of a new Commission of Inquiry bringing in a flood of alien ideas, but he would press the hon. Gentleman to consider one point which he thought essential for the bettering of educational administration in India. A great scheme of educational change could only be put forward in the Viceroy's Council through the Secretary for the Home Department in India. How should we do here if the Board of Education could only be represented in the Cabinet by the Home Secretary or sonic alien official? He was perfectly certain that in the working of the Education Department they could not have their views properly laid before the highest authority until they had a representative on the Viceroy's Council. He had heard over and over again complaints amongst the educational administrators of India of the difficulty they had felt—that after they had elaborated their scheme the whole thing had to go through the gamut of secretaries, under-secretaries, and clerks in another Department. He knew that the general view of the official in India was against this, but he was certain if he had learnt anything in educational administration that the complaint made by the educational administration in India was a just and right one, and that they would never have a sound scheme brought forward and carried through or even considered with due care unless they had what all the other administrative Departments of India had, a representative of their own on the Viceroy's Council.


I regret that my hon. friend the Under-Secretary for India is prevented by indisposition from being present on this occasion to reply for the Government. The hon. Member who has just sat down has indicated as his remedy, for many of the educational defects in the educational system of India the adding of another member to the Viceroy's Executive Council. But quite apart from the difficulties in the way of adding a member to that Council I cannot help expressing my own feeling, drawn from a very considerable experience at close quarters with Indian administration, that an additional member on the Viceroy's Council generally means delay and not expedition in the treatment of subjects, and while I have no authority to speak on behalf of the India Office upon this matter my own opinion is clearly against any such remedy. The Resolution before the House is that there should be an inquiry into "the scope, character, and methods of education in India." It has been suggested in the course of the debate that it would practically, be a censure upon the Government of India if such an inquiry were instituted. I have had an opportunity of seeing Indian administration at the closest possible quarters during the last six months, and I am in a position to tell the House with confidence that there is no subject, amongst all those which occupy the attention of those entrusted with the government of India, which is so close to their hearts and so much occupies their constant attention as that of education. If I were to indulge in any personal criticism of that administration I should say that their thoughts are too much and not too little occupied with the subject of education. Quite apart from the effect which the acceptance of this Motion might have upon the Government of India, I should like the House to consider what the Government has done daring the last ten years. The hon. Member for Hackney has pointed out that the amount spent upon education in India is comparatively small. I agree. It is now about £2,500,000, but that is an increase in the last ten years of 80 per cent. upon the previous expenditure. Since the year 1895–6 that expenditure has gone up from £1,400;000 in round figures to £2,500,000 in the year 1905–6. It is said that more money is wanted for education. But there is not a service in India which does not utter the same cry; so that the House has to choose whether it will increase the taxation of India, or reduce the expenditure on certain objects, or starve the future requirements of India in respect of sanitation, hospitals and dispensaries, which are badly wanted in the country districts, and agriculture. All these are the pressing needs of India, and their provision means a substantial addition to expenditure. While on the one hand we have this demand for increased expenditure, the Government are threatened with a possible diminution of income in India from opium. We are also faced in the present year with a balance which, although it is on the right side, is so small that we cannot by any means be assured that we shall find ourselves on the right side in the future. Perhaps I may be allowed to point out what advantages have been derived by the people of India from this increased grant for educational purposes during the last ten years. The number of educational institutions has gone up from 152,000 to 160,000, and the number of persons attending from 4,300,000 to 5,250,000. Therefore there has been a notable and substantial addition to the number of persons who desire to take advantage of the education provided, and who have had facilities afforded them for bettering their position. And here let me say how cordially I agree with everything that has fallen from hon. Members on both sides of the House as to the advantages of education given in the vernacular. There has been a notable increase in the number of those who have studied the vernacular and received their education through its aid. The numbers have increased by 700,000 and the attendances of those in the primary schools are equally satisfactory. I hope I have not dwelt upon these very material facts at undue length. Let me now return for a moment to the inquiry suggested in the Motion. Reference has been made to the Educational Commission, under the chairmanship of Sir William Hunter, which was instituted during Lord Ripon's Viceroyalty. The effects of that Commission are reviewed quinquennially; and the Report, which is expected this year, will, I am sure, be very satisfactory reading to hon. Members. But there has been more recent investigations. In 1902 there was an Indian Universities Commission, the result of which was that the control of the Universities over the affiliated colleges and high schools has been greatly increased and the standard of education raised. In 1901–2 there was a technical education committee, which resulted first of all in the appointment of certain special instructors of high attainments; and secondly in a special grant of 2½ lakhs for technical instruction. Some of the methods in the technical schools have been criticised, but I myself have found in one school the practice of weaving being taught on a commercial scale. Some of the pupils themselves introduced a hand loom, and so simplified the machine as greatly to reduce the cost. There has also been the Simla Conference of 1901, which was attended by all the directors of public instruction of the provincial Governments, and led to the entire reconstruction of educational methods and control in India. It led further to a great reduction of examination and to a great increase of inspection—a change which has been decidedly beneficial. Now, what is the present system in India? The universities are controlled by their own senates, and the higher schools and colleges are more or less largely controlled by the university authorities. I think that in most cases—I am not sure that I can say all—they receive considerable grants from the Government. Then there is the case of the middle schools. I am not altogether sure that they are in a satisfactory state. They are largely under the control of the municipal authorities, and the inquiries which I and my colleagues have had to conduct in India on another subject, and which it was impossible in many cases not to include under the head of education, have led me clearly to the conclusion that an education tax is not regarded by them with any satisfaction at all. That is natural. We are not load of taxes in our own country. An education tax does not bring with it an immediate return, and while we regret the apathy with which education is regarded by the municipalities I think that after all that is a passing condition of sentiment, and no doubt the time will come when in the municipalities in question they will perceive the advantage of rating themselves for the benefit of their own children. I come now to the case of the primary schools. These are under the control mostly of local boards, assisted no doubt by Government grants. Here my own experience leads me to think that there is far too much interference with the educational authorities in the primary schools, and, although the district boards may not conduct the primary schools as the Education Department might desire at the present moment, I would rather see greater responsibility placed on the district boards with the view of their educating themselves in the management of these schools, so that eventually both the boards and the schools might become more interested in education than they are now. Reference has been made to female education. Nobody who has ever been in India, for however brief a period, or who has in any way studied Indian problems, can have omitted to notice the extraordinary advance which has been made in the education of girls. The religions, caste and tradition, are against it, and it is very slowly indeed that the gates are being opened to the females of India to place them on the high road of education. It is impossible to force upon any class in India the education of their female relatives until they themselves arc ready to send them to school. Let me add this. There has been to a limited extent, from all that I can gather, a very great change in the opinion of certain classes in India as to female education. I recollect very well on one occasion I saw performed in public certain dances by female children of Brahmins—an exhibition which, I am told, twenty years ago would have been absolutely impossible. That is a mark of the progress, almost the revolution, which has taken place on that subject in the course of the last quarter of a century. I have dwelt on education as applied to the general masses of the population of India. I have not mentioned what is a very important factor in Indian social life, namely, that there has been a distinct attempt to give instruction to the ruling classes—the chiefs and the aristocracy. There are five colleges all doing excellent work in the training of chiefs to take a serious part in the administration of their States, and everyone who has visited and seen these colleges cannot help testifying, I think, to the efficiency of the educational work they are doing. As to the people administering the great system of education, there is the Indian educational service recruited in this country, the provincial service recruited in India—these two forming what is called the superior service—and there is the subordinate service recruited entirely in India. I do not know that all these three classes are in an entirely satisfactory condition. There are improvements which might possibly be made in the status and condition of entry into these classes, and these alterations and improvements are occupying the careful and earnest attention of the Secretary of State. We have heard a great deal as to the feeling here on education in India. We are entitled to ask what is the state of feeling in India on education. One class, not inconsiderable as regards numbers and influence, would like to see examinations lessen and graduates increase. On the other hand, an increasing class in India, as I heard from the Vice-Principal of Calcutta University, want to see education "screwed up," so to speak—concentrated in a smaller number of schools of greater efficiency, in which the standard of instruction is very high and the teachers most capable. I entirely sympathise with that school of thought, and I should like the university degree to connote a high standard of education. I think it is almost impossible to deny that in many places the municipal authorities are apathetic as regards the matter of education in relation to primary schools. I hope that there is an increasing interest among the district authorities in that country. I am quite certain as to the kind of encouragement which ought to be given in the primary schools. It is only in what are called the backward districts that there is any freedom or latitude at all given to the local authorities as to the kind of education given in the schools. I should like to see that extended so that the education might be adapted to the requirements of the district, and I should like to see very much greater advantage taken of the schools which are maintained by the priestly class in Burmah and Scinde. I do not think enough advantage has been taken of these two mediums, and more sympathetic administration might conduce to greater use of them. I am glad to think that the authorities in these two provinces are well aware of the shortcomings of the past, and that it is their intention to make greater use of these mediums in the future than they have hitherto done. If, on behalf of the Secretary of State, I am unable to accept the Resolution it must be understood that it is not because there is not the fullest sympathy with the object in view and with the opinions expressed; it is rather because the work of education in India has progressed and is steadily being pushed forward, and any inquiry of the sort suggested would not really expedite it.

EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)

expressed his concurrence with the view of the hon. Gentleman, and hoped his transfer to another sphere of political life would not prevent his taking part in these debates. One inquiry had not been referred to, that made by the central government of local governments on the subject of free education. He hoped that the replies of the local governments would be placed before the House.


said he had no wish to press his Motion. The debate had been useful and interesting, and had served its purpose in eliciting the statement just made. He hoped that any expressions he might have used would not be construed into an attack on the Indian Government, the Secretary of State, or any of the officials connected with the Education Department.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.