History of Education in Modern India (HOEMI)

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSES2011034

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon Semester

Course Coordinator and Team:

MA Education:  Manish Jain

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives:

This course aims to introduce students to the phenomenon of education in India since colonial period through intersecting frames of time, themes and locales. These frames are used to historically situate education in interaction with other social-cultural institutions and processes, experiences/practices of colonialism, modern state, ‘nation-building’, and changes in social power structure at different historical junctures. With reference to time, continuities and changes are traced in the context of pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial frames, practices and institutions of education. Themes of colonialism, nationalism, dominance, marginalisation, identity formation, representation and knowledge are used to explore meaning, roles, purposes, concerns, discourses, availability and experiences of education across different periods, regions, social groups, curriculum, different school subjects and policies. These themes are also used to examine construction, assimilation and disintegration of colonial, national(ist), regional, gendered, caste and classed histories of education in India.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Identify the influence of colonialism on education system in India
  2. Learn to situate education and ideas in historical contexts
  3. Explain the concept of modernity, State from classical liberal, liberal, and neo-liberal perspective;
  4. Demonstrate a knowledge of key issues and debates around education and nationalism and education of marginalised communities in colonial India;
  5. Examine historical sources and make historical judgement about education process, institutions, ideas and decisions on the basis of historical evidence.

Brief description of modules:

The course is organised in five units.

Unit 1: Writing History of Education in a Modern World: Concepts, Practices and Challenges (2 weeks)

This introductory unit would introduce students to the domain of history of education by engaging with the concept of modern and modernity and understanding education with reference to changes in the social-cultural institutions and processes such as family, child-rearing and the idea of childhood, development of printing and emergence of reading publics and public forums along with changes in economy and expectations of/from state.

Unit 2: Pre-colonial and Colonial systems of Education (3 weeks)

This unit would introduce students to indigenous education in different parts of India in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Then it would examine if education was implicated in the cultural project of colonialism. Key debates, ideas and policies of colonial education, its conceptualization of knowledge and curriculum, and its legacies would be focused on.

Unit 3: Educating the Nation (3 weeks)

This unit tries to understand the interface of education with emergence of the idea and forces of nationalism and formation of nation-states in colonial and postcolonial contexts. It looks at contesting meanings of nation, proposals to use education for ‘national’ purposes and continuities/breaks of ‘national’ education with colonial education and visions. It also examines the role of education in the nation-building project in independent India and its silences.

Unit 4: Dominance, Marginalisation, Identities and Education (3 weeks)

This unit is based on the assumption that we cannot understand the Indian response to colonial education or the colonial reactions to Indian reception if we move through any rigid homogenous typology of colonizer and colonized. Instead, it uses the intersecting vectors of gender, caste, tribal and religious affinity to examine access to education and how was/is education involved in the wider contests to fashion a self-identity and establish and challenge dominance.

Unit 5: Histories of School Subjects (1 week)

Why and when do certain knowledge-discipline(s) enter or are removed from the school curriculum? What do histories of school subjects tell us about the development of a subject over a period of time, changes in its status and changing understanding and approaches to discipline? How are trajectories of and concerns about a school subject influenced by different social forces, national contexts and time periods? This unit would discuss these questions through case studies of some school subjects.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Assignment 1: Class-test Unit 1 and 2, 20 % (Last week-August)
  • Individual assignment (long essay), Unit 2, 20 % (Last week-September)
  • Group presentation: Historically situating reformers, Education commission reports, Curriculum documents, Unit 3 and 5, 20 % (First-week November)
  • End-term exam (40%), (Mid-November)


Reading List:

Unit 1

Essential Readings:

  1. Goodman, Joyce (2012). ‘The gendered politics of historical writing in History of Education’, History of Education: Journal of the History of Education Society, 41:1, pp: 9-24.
  2. Aries, Philippe (1962). Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life. Translated from the French by Robert Baldick. New York: Vintage Books, pp: 128-133, 329-336, 405-415.
  3. Mahadevan, Kanchana (2002). Colonial Modernity: A Critique. Indian Literature, 46: 3, pp. 193-211.


Unit 2

Essential Readings

  1. Kakkar, Ankur (2017). “Education, empire and the heterogeneity of investigative modalities”: a reassessment of colonial surveys on indigenous Indian education, Paedagogica Historica, 53:4, 381-393.
  2. Tschurenev, Jana (2012). ‘Incorporation and Differentiation: Popular Education and the Imperial Civilizing Mission in Early Nineteenth Century India’, in Carey A. Watt and Michael A. Mann (Eds.) Civilising Missions in Colonial and Postcolonial South Asia. Delhi: Anthem Press India, pp: 93-124.
  3. Shahidullah, Kazi (1996). ‘The Purpose and Impact of Government Policy on Pathshala Gurumohashays in Nineteenth Century Bengal’, in Nigel Crook (ed.) The Transmission of Knowledge in South Asia: Essays on Education, Religion, History and Politics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp: 119-134.
  4. Primary historical sources


Unit 3

Essential Reading

  1. Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi , (2003), ‘Introduction’, in Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi, Yagati, Chinna Rao ed, Educating the Nation: Documents on the Discourse of National Education in India 1880-1920, New Delhi: Kanishka Publishers in association with Educational Records Research Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru University, pp: ix-xxvii.
  2. Chaudhary, L. (2010). Land revenues, schools and literacy. The Indian Economic & Social History Review, 47(2), 179–204.
  3. Manjrekar, Nandini (2017). ‘Education in the ‘Sanskarnagri’: Baroda, Provincial capital of a ‘Progressive’ Princely State in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century’, in William T. Pink and George W. Nobbit (Eds.). Second International Handbook of Urban Education, Vol. 1. Switzerland: Springer.
  4. Primary historical sources


Unit 4 Essential Readings

  1. Satyanarayana, A. (2002). ‘Growth of Education among the Dalit-Bahujan Communities in Modern Andhra, 18903-1947’. In Sabyasachi Bhattacharya (ed.) Education and the Disprivileged: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century India. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, pp: 50-83.
  2. Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi, (2001), ‘Introduction’, in Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi, Bara, Joesph, Yagati, Chinna Rao and Sankhdher B.M., The Development of Women’s Education in India: A Collection of Documents 1859-1920, New Delhi: Kanishka Publishers in association with Educational Records Research Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru University, pp: ix-xlviii.
  3. Minault, Gail, (1998), ‘Role Models: Educated Muslim Women, Real and Ideal, in Secluded Scholars: Women’s Education and Muslim Social Reform in Colonial India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp: 14-57.
  4. Primary historical documents


Unit 5 Essential Readings

  1. Goodson, Ivor (1985). ‘Subjects for Study’ in Goodson, Ivor (ed.), Social Histories of the Secondary Curriculum: Subjects for Study, London and Philadelphia: The Falmer Press Taylor and Francis Group, pp: 343-367.
  2. Hancock, Mary (2001). ‘Home Science and the Nationalization of Domesticity in Colonial India’, Modern Asian Studies, 35 (4), pp: 871-903.
  3. Jain, Manish (2010). ‘Colonial Knowledge, Colonial Citizen: Civics in Colonial India’, Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Comparative Education Society of India, 15-17 November, 2010, Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, pp: 1-34.