In ancient and mediaeval Odisha, the traditional education system predominated. However, modern education began during the British period, which resulted in the collapse of Odisha’s traditional education system. Christian missionaries established modern education in Odisha under the East India Company by printing the Old and New Testaments in Odia. Missionaries established the first primary school in 1822. The introduction of English education in Odisha was one of the long-term effects of British rule in the state. The British attempted to modernise Odisha by expanding education in the state. The British Government’s attempt to introduce modern education paved the way for Odisha’s modernization and progress. In some ways, it established a watershed moment in the history of Odisha’s education system.
Education in pre-British Odisha
Prior to 1803 (the year the British occupied Odisha), education was largely self-contained. The schools (Pathasala) were located in temples, Sanskrit Tols, Bhagavat Tungis, and wealthy men’s homes. The Avadhanas (teachers) place a premium on reading, writing, and the application of basic mathematics or traditional knowledge. The pupils were taught Odia literature, which included the Bhagavata of Jagannatha Das and puranas. By that time, there was no Odia school administered by the Odisha Kings. Thus, education in pre-British Odisha was quite infuriating.
The factors that have contributed to the spread of English education
The following factors contributed to the expansion of English education. Initially, the East India Company was indifferent to the development of English education in Odisha. They eventually realised that if the populace is not fluent in English, their administration and entire system will fail to function properly. As a result, they took an interest in the development of English education in Odisha.
- On the other hand, Charles Grant, a member of the British Parliament, and Lord Minto, the Governor-General, took an active interest in the spread of English education among Indians in order to help officials understand the British administration and carry out their duties.
- Christian missionaries sought to elevate the Odisha people through education in order to spread Christianity. The primary objective of these missionaries was to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the indigenous people. In 1804, missionaries compiled the Odia alphabet and printed the first Odia Bible. Pandit Mrutyunjay Vidyalankar translated the New Testament in 1809. This translation was made possible by the efforts of three missionaries, specifically Me. Carr, Marshman, and Ward.
- The British believed that appointing the Odias to the government service would benefit them because they would receive a much lower salary than others.
- At the time, the British administration required the assistance of educated elites. This was true for all of India’s provinces, and Odisha was not an exception. As a result, the British government desired to bring modern education to Odisha.
Macauley’s Minutes and Odisha’s education
Lord Macauley, President of the General Committee of Public Instruction and a member of the Governor-Council General’s for Law in 1835, drafted his Minute. After much debate between Anglicists and Orientalists over the issue of medium of instruction, English was chosen as the medium of instruction for imparting European knowledge to the Indian people. As a result, the British initiated the establishment of English schools in Odisha. Previously, Christian missionaries established schools with an English medium. The missionaries had established a few schools, which had been quite successful. On 1st June 1822, the mission school in northern Odisha was established. Following that, the government assumed responsibility for fifteen indigenous schools.
The British established the first English school in Puri in 1836. Although Christian missionaries founded the Cuttack English School in 1823-24, the school’s management was transferred to the government in 1836. That is why Cuttack Missionary School grew in popularity and Puri English School closed after only two years. Government established an English School in Balasore in 1853 and restored the Puri School. Following that, Zilla Schools were established in Balasore, Puri, and Cuttack to educate a class of English-speaking citizens to assist the British Government in Odisha.
Under Wood’s Despatch, education expanded
The Wood’s Despatch was another watershed moment in the state of Odisha’s educational history. Sir Charles Wood, President of the Board of Control, drafted a scheme known as Wood’s Despatch in 1854, during the Governor-Generalship of Lord William Bentinck. It became known as the ‘Magnacarta’ throughout the history of the English educational system in India. It advocated for the establishment of new schools and the retention of existing ones. As a result, another Zilla School was established in 1855 in Berhampur. This despatch, dated 19′′‘ July 1854, was intended to examine the region’s educational history and progress. I It made several valuable recommendations, and as a result, several changes occurred, elevating the state of education in this region. There were 30 schools in 1858-59, 63 in 1868, and 95 in 1870. Following Wood’s dispatch, schools began operating in the province’s remote areas. A school with 35 students had arrived in Kendrapara, and a school with students had arrived in Puri. Similarly, schools sprouted up in Bhadrak, Balasore, Mahanga, and Hariharpur. One impediment in the educational system was the school’s fee structure. Additionally, there have been instances of students dropping out of school as a result of the high fee structure.
Vernacular Education’s Spread in Odisha
The Zilla School in Sambalpur was elevated to the status of an Anglo-Vernacular School as a result of the Wood’s Despatch. The policy of establishing a Middle English School on a vernacular basis aided the Odias in spreading the English language. T. E. Ravenshaw, on the other hand, was in charge of the 832 Pathasalas, or indigenous village schools. As a result, it accelerated the growth of primary education in Odisha. Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati of Paraalakhemundi was instrumental in establishing primary education in Odisha. By 1947, Odisha had grown to 6998 primary schools.
Secondary education in British-ruled Odisha
Apart from primary education, the Wood’s Despatch re-energized secondary education. Middle Vernacular Schools, Middle English Schools, and High Schools have been established to advance education in Odisha. English was not a required subject in the Middle Vernacular School. After the upper primary stage, the Middle Vernacular Schools added two years of education. English was a required subject at the Middle English School. M.E. School also offered four-year programmes. After graduating from the M.E. School, high schools offered four years of study. As a result, Cuttack established private high schools. Pyari Mohan Academy began as a Middle School in 1875 and was upgraded to a High School in 1879. In 1888, the Victoria School in Cuttack was also elevated to the status of a High School. By the end of the nineteenth century, North Odisha had 12 high schools and 82 M.E. schools, while South Odisha had four high schools and 26 M.E. schools.
Lord Ripon and the Hunter Commission
In 1882, Lord Ripon, India’s Viceroy, appointed a commission headed by W.W. Hunter, which became known as the Hunter Commission. Private schools and colleges were established in various towns throughout Odisha in response to its recommendations. Pandit Gopabandhu Das established Satyavadi Bakula Vanvidyalaya in Sakshigopal in 1909 in the spirit of amalgamation of Odia speaking tracts. The Panchasakhas of modern Odisha, such as Pandit Gopabandhu Das, Acharya Harihara, Pandit Nilakantha Das, Pandit Godavarish Mishra, and Pandit Krupasindhu Mishra, assumed charge of this school to advance education in Odisha. Odisha’s creation as a separate province instilled in its leaders a desire to spread education throughout the state. By 1947, Odisha had 42 high schools and 61 M.E. schools.
Odisha’s higher education sector is thriving
Following the disastrous 1866 Famine, the British Government considered investing in the development of higher education in Odisha. In 1868, with the establishment of Ravenshaw College, a new era in the field of higher education in Odisha began. In 1968, the Cuttack Zilla School was converted into a Collegiate School with the opening of the FA (First Arts) class, which only offered instruction up to the Intermediate standard. Following that, on T.E. Ravenshaw’s recommendation, it was converted to a Degree College. Maharaja Krushna Chandra Bhanja donated 20,000 rupees to construct a new college building in 1878. Ravenshaw College was Odisha’s only institution of higher learning until 1878. In 1878, the Berhampur Zilla School became a collegiate school with the addition of FA classes. Privatization was encouraged on the Hunter Commission’s recommendation, and the school became Berhampur Native College before being renamed Khallikote College in 1893 after Raja Harihar Mardaraj Dev granted land for it. Maharaja Gourachandra Dev established another college at Parlakhernundi in 1896. It was a Junior (Second Grade) college until 1936. It was upgraded in 1937. Cuttack also has an S.B. Women’s College. In Odisha, there were only seven renowned colleges: Ravenshaw College in Cuttack, Khalikote College in Berhampur, S.K.C.G. College in Parlakhemundi, S.B. Women’s College in Cuttack, G.M. College in Sambalpur, S.C.S. College in Puri, and F.M. College in Balasore. Apart from the aforementioned colleges, a Training College was established in Cuttack, which later became known as Radha Nath Training College. All of these colleges were founded in Odisha during the British era to provide higher education to the state’s residents.
Odisha’s Technical Education During the British Period
The British also provided technical education over time in order to meet the needs of the British government. The Odisha School of Engineering, now known as the Bhubanananda Engineering School, was founded in Cuttack in 1923. On the other hand, the American Baptist Mission established the Boys’ Industrial School in Balasore, where education was imparted in carpentry, bookbinding, cane work, painting, and cement work, among other things. Two weaving institutes have been established in the districts of Sambalpur and Cuttack. The Odisha Medical School was founded in 1876 and has been recognised as the S.C.B. Medical College and Hospital since 1917. Prathama and Madhyama studies were available through Sanskrit tols (schools). Certain special schools have been established. In 1917, Angul and Sambalpur established 35 special schools for Scheduled castes and 19 schools for Scheduled tribes. Following that, a training college was established in Cuttack to impart the teaching process, which later became Radha Nath Training College.
The British Government’s Approach to Education in Odisha
Although the British were instrumental in establishing modern education in Odisha. However, it did not proceed quickly. There are several reasons for the British’s above approach to education in Odisha:
- The British were largely indifferent to the expansion of higher education in Odisha.
- While it desired that the people of Odisha learn English, it never desired to educate them to a high level. It desired only a working knowledge of English in order to create a clerical class of people, as it desired in India as well.
- Obtaining a higher education was prohibitively expensive. The British government has never desired to increase spending on education that benefits indigenous people. When the Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta Universities were founded in 1858, Odisha lacked a single college at the time.
- Odisha lacked an adequate number of schools and colleges. Thus, in the case of Odisha, the rise of the elite class was delayed.
- The British exploited the conservative views of the Odia people regarding education, and thus discouraged English education in Odisha.
- Despite the fact that Odisha was a land where agriculture was the primary occupation of the people, the British discouraged engineering education specifically related to agriculture. These were additional impediments to the growth of education in Odisha.
The Final Words
During the British period, modern education in the form of English education began in Odisha. The Missionaries for the Evangelical Purpose initiated this process. Over time, the British government took the initiative to introduce modern education in the form of English education in Odisha for administrative convenience and to keep the Odisha people quiet through the provision of small jobs and other benefits. However, education progressed at a slower pace than in other parts of India. English education flourished in Odisha following the end of British rule in India.