HC Deb 06 November 1945 vol 415 cc1229-30W
Captain Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement on the progress of the Army educational scheme in India and S.E.A.C.

Mr. Lawson

The preparation of the Army Education Scheme in India and S.E.A.C. was necessarily much restricted until the end of the war with Japan. Since then everything possible has been done to speed up the work. In India the responsibility for the education of British troops rests with the Government of India and the Commander-in-Chief has agreed to apply the Army Education Scheme to British troops in India as soon as circumstances permit. Meanwhile, to bridge the gap until an education scheme comparable to that in force elsewhere can be effectively operated, India Command have instituted an interim scheme under which British Army units whose operational and occupational commitments permit it devote up to six hours a week to education.

In S.E.A.C, operations made it impracticable until recently to undertake anything more than preliminary planning. The end of the Japanese war resulted in large movements of troops which provided too insecure a basis for the development of well-organised unit programmes. The situation is now becoming more stable and it is anticipated that it will be possible to start the Army Education Scheme in Ceylon and Burma before the end of this year and elsewhere early in the Spring.

Mr. Braddock

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that A.E.C. sergeants who have recently been sent to India are being employed in teaching Indian soldiers to speak English when they themselves have no knowledge of any Indian language; and why no attempt was made to discover this before they were sent abroad.

Mr. Lawson

A.E.C. personnel serving in India are normally used in connection with the education of both Indian and British troops. I understand that, under modern methods, a knowledge of any Indian language is not essential to the teaching of English to Indian soldiers. I am, however, asking for a report from India on the points raised and will write to my hon. Friend.