Hunter Education Commission 1882-83
Hunter Education Commission was a landmark commission appointed by Viceroy Lord Ripon with objectives to look into the complaints of the non-implementation of the Wood’s Despatch of 1854; the contemporary status of elementary education in the British territories; and suggest means by which this can be extended and improved. This commission, headed by Sir William Wilson Hunter, had submitted its report in 1882.
About Sir William Wilson Hunter
William Wilson Hunter was a statistician, a compiler and a member of the Indian Civil Service. He was appointed as a Magistrate in the Bengal Presidency in 1862, and from there only he started compiling the local traditions and records. He published “The Annals of Rural Bengal” and “A Comparative Dictionary of the Non-Aryan Languages of India” but his best known work is “The Imperial Gazetteer of India“ on which he started working in 1869. This work, delegated to him by Lord Mayo, appeared in 9 volumes in 1881. He later also became Vice President of Royal Asiatic Society.
In 1882 as a member of the Governor General in Council he was appointed he chairman of the Commission on Education. In 1886, he was also elected as Vice Chancellor of the Calcutta University.
Recommendations of Hunter Commission
The Hunter Commission brought out the neglect to the primary and secondary education in the country and recommended that the responsibility for the Primary Education must be given to the Local Boards and Municipal Boards. Its important recommendations were as follows:
Encouragement to Primary Education
The commission found that primary education in the British Indian territories is lagging behind and some part of the provincial revenues must be reserved for financing the development of primary education in British Indian territories. The elementary schools should be handed over to the management of municipal councils and district boards and other bodies subject to inspection and supervision by government.
The Hunter Commission reported that the secondary education was making commendable progress, particularly in Bengal, where the system of Grants-in-aid worked well. At that time, there were two private schools for every one government school. The commission recommended that the secondary schools should be progressively handed over to the private enterprises, which should be encouraged in the form of grants-in-aid. However, standard of the education should not be permitted to decline.
Grant-in-aid for Indigenous Schools
The commission recommended grants-in-aid for the indigenous schools on the basis of “Payments by Results”. The aided schools would charge lower rates of fees than those charged by similar government aimed institutions and these schools should be allowed to employ more Indian graduates trained in European Universities.
Emphasis on Moral nd Physical Education
The commission emphasized that although there has to be exclusion of the religious education, there should be some sort of arrangement to give sense of right and wrong to students and for this purpose, the text books on moral education should be prepared. In the government aided schools, the principal or the professor should deliver a series of lectures on duties of man and citizen. The commission also gave due weightage to physical education in its recommendations.
- There should be literary and vocational training in secondary education.
- The commission brought out inadequate facilities available for the female education in the country.
- Special attention should be paid towards development of education among Muslims.
Significance of Hunter Commission
The Hunter Commission report is considered to be an important stage in history of education in India. Most of its recommendations were accepted by the British Government which resulted in the devolution of elementary education. This significantly reduced the British element in elementary education. In 1882, the Punjab University was established which lessened the burden over Calcutta University. Between 1882 to 1901, the number of students enrolled in primary and secondary schools increases substantially.