Gentlemen, when we consider these facts, and when we look back to the educational condition of this Presidency within the memory of not a few of those who are now assembled in this hall; when we call to mind the acrimonious controversies which so long obstructed progress, and the party spirit which existed; when we remember the difficulties and discouragements under which my friend and colleague in this Senate, our present Director of Public Instruction, sent forth year after year those batches of High School proficients who were the first fruits of his modest but most useful labours, and were the pioneers of Western civilization among their countrymen; when we compare the spirit of generous rivalry and co-operation which now animates the various sections of educationists, with the atmosphere of contest and controversy under which the earlier educational efforts of this Presidency were put forth, it is impossible not to be struck by the contrast which the present offers to the past, not to be impressed by the wisdom of the policy laid down in that memorable despatch to which I have more than once alluded.
But here, gentlemen, I must guard against its being supposed, that while I thus draw attention to the comparatively satisfactory results of the educational policy adopted by the Government of India of late years, we who have been engaged in the duty of carrying out that policy, are not painfully sensible that still greater results might reasonably have been looked for; that at all events in some branches of our educational administration more ought to have been effected ; and that what has been done is insignificant in comparison with that which remains to be accomplished. In the matter of the elementary education of the masses, we have done little more than turn the first sods. The great lines of progress in this department of national education have still to be constructed. It has yet to be settled what machinery shall be finally adopted; whether the measures now in progress for the improvement of the indigenous schools with which the country abounds, will in the long run prove effectual, or whether for our village schools, as for our local roads, we shall be compelled, here, as elsewhere, to resort to a local cess. These are questions which demand the anxious consideration of all who are interested in the progress of the nation, and not least of those who, like yourselves, having been taught to value sound learning, are bound to do what you can to disseminate its treasures, even though it be in a rudimentary form, among your less favoured countrymen.
And now, gentlemen, it behoves me, without any longer