Nineteenth Century Missionaries and Education in Bengal: An Analysis of Historical Literature This paper is about how missionaries implemented education and how their reforms reflected the cultural, political, religious, social, and economical situation of Bengal throughout the years of 1793-1837.
Michael A. Laird is clear to state that missionaries did not actually arrive in Bengal until around 1800. However, it is important to analyze the educational climate of England from whence they came. It is true that the state of education in both Bengal and England was in bad need of reform. Even so, Laird argues that although both places had a network of institutions of elementary, secondary, and higher education, Bengal was in greater need of reform.
Elementary teachers were reported as ill-qualified and harshly disciplinarian. Secondary teachers were described as “much superior in intelligence.” However, they failed to exert any more of a moral influence over their pupils than the former. Some of the pandits, or teachers, of Indian higher education, were more moral and intellectual than the former. Education in this realm entailed many subjects, but learning was slow, nonetheless.
Another important factor to add to the backdrop of the educational scene was the decline of the entire educational system. There was next to no funding, obstinacy to modern scholarship, and no longer any creative thought. As a result, people were learning without passion under the thumb of their apathetic teacher who would not hesitate to discipline the smallest mistake.
Laird does state that the English system of education shared some of the same problems. He states that one of the greatest areas of concern in Bengal was the inaccessibility to new modern knowledge such as new medical findings, scientific innovations, and modern social thought. These would be the tools that would unshackle the Indian from his prejudice...
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