Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/334

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1868.— The Honorable A. J. Arbuthnot. 41

other more pressing necessities for which the revenues of the State ought to be reserved, and that it was not improbable that the comprehensive measures for the extension and advancement of public instruction, which had been sanctioned only four years before, would have to be materially curtailed, if not altogether abandoned.

And not only in this country but in England had doubts begun to be felt and controversies to revive in regard to the educational policy of the Government of British India. Before the mutiny broke out, that policy was considered to have been settled upon just and liberal principles, in what happily continues to be the Great Charter of native education, the Educational Despatch of 1854 ; but at the time of which I speak there was scarcely a topic of importance adverted to in that despatch, which was not treated as an open question ; hardly a principle enforced in it which was not contested by one party or another. That despatch had laid down that considerable extension should be given to the educational operations of the Government in all branches, and especially to the dissemination of useful and practical knowledge among the lower classes. At the very time at which the first Convocation of the University was being held, the policy of such an educational extension was being questioned in an official and authoritative document, emanating from one of the leading members of the British Government, who at that time held the office of President of the Board of Control. The despatch of 1854 had laid great stress on the grant-in-aid system, as being the most economical, and, in many respects, the most effectual means of extending education, and at the same time placing it upon a sound basis. The policy of the grant-in-aid system, and especially its application to schools established by Christian Missionaries, which if not expressly provided for, was clearly contemplated in the despatch, was being denounced by the same Minister and by others who shared in his views, and it was shortly afterwards officially notified that the system was under the consideration of the Home Government. The despatch had declared that it was neither the aim nor desire of the British Government to "substitute English for the vernacular dialects of the country," and that "any acquaintance with improved European knowledge" could only be conveyed to the great mass of the people "through one or other of the vernacular languages." Throughout that year, 1858, it was argued, not indeed officially, but in quarters scarcely less influential ; in public journals whichere now have largely influenced official