Government Resolution on Education Policy, 1913

The Government Resolution on Education Policy, 1913 was an attempt of the British Government to compensate the demand raised for compulsory primary education.


In the beginning of the twentieth century Indian people started realising that the country needs a nationalistic system of education based on the cultural heritage and tradition of the nation. At the Calcutta conference of the Congress in 1906, Annie Besant declared that throughout the country a national education should be organised. Gopalkrishna Gokhale was a nationalist leader and the active member of the Indian National Congress. He was also elected as the President of the Indian National Congress in 1905. Gokhale became a non-official member of the British Imperial Legislative Council in 1902. Till that time he was a professor and Principal of Ferguson College, Poona. As a nationalist leader Gokhale visualised the importance of primary education for the socio-political awakening of India. He made heroic efforts to make the Government accept the principle of compulsory primary education. The demand for compulsory primary education was strengthened by the fact that the Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaikwad of Boroda had made primary education free and compulsory within the territories of his state. This attempt inspired Gokhale.

Gopalkrishna Gokhale's proposal for compulsory education:

As a member of the Legislative Council Gokhale put forward a proposal for compulsory primary education in 1910. The proposal was as follows A beginning should be made in the direction of making elementary education free and compulsory throughout the country, and that a mixed commission of officials and non officials be appointed at an early date to frame definite proposal. Following were the important points of the resolution :
  • Primary education should be made free and compulsory in the area where 35% of boys were receiving education.
  • This provision should apply to the age group of 6-10 years.
  • The cost of compulsory primary education should be shared by the provincial Government and the Local Bodies in the ration of 2 : 1.
  • A separate Department of education shall be opened under the Central Government to draw up a scheme for the expansion of primary education.
  • A secretary should be appointed to organise, supervise and look after the primary education.
Gokhale was aware of the intention of the Government. He made further attempt to draw the attention of the people of India as well as in England towards the condition of education. On 16th March of 1911, Gokhale presented a Bill in the Legislative Council to make a stronger fight against the Government. The Bill, however, was more liberal and humble than the resolutions placed before and the main objective of the bill was to make primary education free and compulsory in a phased manner. The Bill was basically based on the compulsory Education Acts of England of 1870 and 1876. Important clauses of the Bill include:
  • Compulsory primary education should be introduced in those areas where a certain percentage of boys and girls of school-age (6-10) was already receiving instructions.
  • The percentage of attendance should be fixed by the Governor General in Council.
  • It should be left to the discretion of local bodies whether to apply the Act to certain areas under their jurisdiction or not.
  • Local bodies should be given the right to levy educational cess to meet the cost of compulsory primary education.
  • Expenditure on education was to be shared by the local bodies and Provincial Government in the ratio of 1:2.
  • For the introduction of compulsion, the previous sanction of the Viceroy and the Governor respectively were necessary.
  • Compulsory primary education is intended to apply in the first instance only to boys, though later on a local body may extend it to girls also.
  • Guardians whose income is less than Rs. 10/- per month should not be asked to pay any fee for their wards.
However the Government rejected the Gokhale's bill and instead promised to extend recurring and non-recurring grants to primary education. The education department had declared the new policy in the form of Government of India Resolution on February 21, 1913 covering primary, secondary, higher and women education.

The Government Resolution on Education Policy, 1913 and its main provisions -

  • There should be sufficient expansion of lower primary schools, where along with instruction in the three R s children should be taught drawing, knowledge of the village map, nature study and physical exercises.
  • Simultaneously, upper primary schools should be opened at the proper places and if necessary, lower primary schools should be raised to the status of upper primary schools.
  • Local Boards schools should be established in place of private aided schools.
  • Moktabs and Pathsalas should be adequately subsidised.
  • The inspection and management of private schools should be made more efficient.
  • In most parts of India, It may not be practicable to prescribe a separate curriculam for rural and urban, but in the urban schools there is sufficient scope for teaching geography and organising school excursions etc.
  • The primary school teacher should have passed vernacular middle examination and received one years training.
  • Provision be made for refresher courses for the teachers of primary education during vacations.
  • A trained teacher should get a salary not less than Rs. 12 per month.
  • The number of students under one teacher should generally range between 30 and 40.
  • Improvement should be made in the condition of middle and secondary vernacular schools and their number should be increased.
  • Schools should be housed in sanitary, spacious but in inexpensive buildings.
  • Further establishment of state institutions was proposed to be stopped.
  • Existing institutions should continue to serve as models and proper grants-in-aid should be sanctioned to private institutions.
  • Improvement in the mode of examination and curriculum was also recommended.

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