In 1917 the Government of India appointed a Commission to study and report on the problems of Calcutta University. Dr. M.E. Sadler, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, was appointed its Chairman. The Commission included two Indian members, namely Sir Ashutosh Mukeiji and Dr. Zia-ud-din Ahmad.
While the Hunter Commission had reported on problems of secondary education and the University Commission of 1902 mainly on the different aspects of university education, the Sadler Commission reviewed the entire field from school education to university education.
The Sadler Commission held the view that the improvement of secondary education was a necessary condition for the improvement of university education.
The Commission reported that an effective synthesis between college and university ‘was still undiscovered when the reform of 1904 had been worked out to conclusion’ and the foundation of a sound university organisation had not been laid down.
Further, it reported that ‘the problems of high school training and organisation were unresolved’. Although the Commission reported on the conditions of Calcutta University, its recommendations and remarks were more or less applicable to other Indian universities also. The following were the main recommendations:
Recommendations of the Commission
The main objective of the Commission was ‘to inquire into the condition and prospects of the University of Calcutta and to consider the question of a constructive policy in relation to the question it presented’.
The Commission discussed the main weaknesses of Higher Education in Bengal and offered the following recommendations:
1. All the teaching resources in the city of Calcutta should be organized so that the Calcutta University may become entirely a teaching university. It means that the colleges in Calcutta should be so grouped together that they may discharge the functions of a teaching university.
2. A separate teaching and residential university should be established at Dacca.
3. Other universities should be established and the older ones are recognized as teaching and residential. It means that colleges should be so developed that new centres may gradually rise to become universities.
4. Universities should be freed from excessive official control. The government interference in the academic matters of universities should stop. Its control should be less rigid.
5. An academic council should be set up in each university to deal with all academic questions for example, those connected with the courses of study, examinations, and conferment of degree and research.
6. The senate and the syndicate should be replaced by the Court and the Executive Council respectively. This step would improve the administration of the university.
7. Teaching work and work connected with research should be organised under different departments and each department should have a head.
8. A full time and salaried Vice-Chancellor should be appointed to be the administrative head of the university.
9. Faculties, boards of studies, and other statutory bodies should be formed. Faculties should serve as Departments of teaching.
10. Honours courses should be instituted and they should be distinctly different from the Pass courses.
11. Tutorials and superior kinds of research work should be organised.
12. Provisions should be made for imparting instruction in engineering education, medicine, law, agriculture and technology. Thus, university education would cover practical and vocational studies as well as technical and industrial courses.
13. There was a need for coordinating agency. Hence an inter-University Board should be set up.
In 1937 Congress ministries assumed office in seven major provinces of India. Their main concern was to fight for the cause of national system or education in the country. The traditional education system or had been faulty in many respects. It was highly academic. It produced a gulf between the masses and the elite, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. Education was meant for those who could buy it. It was not everybody’s birthright.
The two main items involved in the programme of establishing a National system of education were mass education and temperance. Both these items ran counter to each other. If a policy of temperance was to be pleaded for and implemented, there would be a marked decline in revenue.
If mass education was to be pleaded for, it required a large amount of money-a tremendously heavy additional expenditure on primary education only. The ministries were at the horns of dilemma.
Gandhiji came to their rescue at such a critical hour. He wrote in Harijan (July 31, 1937), “As a nation we are so backward in education that we cannot hope to fulfill our obligations to the nation in this respect within a given time during this generation, if the programme is to depend on money.
In have, therefore, made bold, even at the risk of losing a reputation for constructive ability, to suggest that education would be self-supporting it would therefore begin the child’s education by teaching it a useful handicraft and enabling it to produce from the moment it begins its training.
Thus every school can be made self-supporting, the condition being that the state takes over these products.”
The same year in October an All India National Education Conference was organized at Wardha under the president ship of Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas on national education were discussed and it was resolved that free and compulsory education should be provided to children for seven years (6-14) through mother-tongue and that the process of education throughout this period should centre round some form of manual and productive work and that all other abilities that were to be developed should be integrally related to the central craft chosen with due regard to the environment of the child.
The conference expected that this system of education would gradually be able to cover the remuneration of teachers.
9 main aspects of the Wardha Scheme
A Committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Dr. Zakir Hussain to design a scheme on the lines suggested by the above resolution. It submitted its report in 1938 which came to be known as Wardha Scheme of Education. The main aspects of this scheme of education were as follows:
1. A free and compulsory education for age group 6-14,
2. Craft-centred instruction,
3. Mother-tongue as the medium of instruction,
4. Teaching of craft in a way that it might enable the school to meet the cost of education,
5. Emphasis on manual work,
6. Co-education upto 5th class,
7. Education to be closely related to social and physical environment of the child, i.e., to his home, his village, crafts, industries, occupations followed in his neighbourhood,
8. Course in a basic craft, mother-tongue, mathematics, social studies, general science, art work, Hindustani music-all these subjects correlated with the basic craft,
9. Little importance to be attached to examinations and text books.