Civilising the ‘Native’, Educating the Nation

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Class 8 Civilising the “Native”, Educating the Nation

History is an important subject of the class 8 syllabus. In this blog, we shall discuss chapter 8 of class 8 History- Civilising the ‘Native’, educating the Nation. In this blog, you will find a comprehensive understanding of Class 8 Civilising the ‘Native’, educating the Nation Notes. 

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Introduction to Civilising the ‘Native’, Educating the Nation

With the arrival of the British in India, the Rajas and Nawabs, peasants, and tribal lives were badly affected. The British felt that the onus was on them to civilize the natives.

  • A Madrasa was set up to promote the study of Arabic, Islamic Law, and Persian in Calcutta 1781.
  • Hindu College was established in Benaras to promote the study of ancient Sanskrit tests in 1791.
  • In the early 19th century, many British officials were critical of the Orientalist version of learning. They said that knowledge of the East was full of errors & unscientific thought. They believed eastern literature was light-hearted. James Mill attacked the Orientalists.
  • He believed the aim of education was to teach what was useful and practical and hence Indians should be made well versed with the scientific and technical advances made by the West. Thomas Babington Macaulay, another critic of Orientalists, saw India as an uncivilized country that needed to be civilized.
  • He emphasized the need to teach the English language, following which, the English Education Act of 1835 was introduced to make English the medium of instruction for higher education and to stop the promotion of Oriental institutions.

Education for Commerce 

  • In 1854, Wood’s Dispatch, which was an educational dispatch, was sent emphasizing the practical benefits of the European System of learning. 
  • Wood’s Despatch argued that European learning would improve the moral character of Indians. It would also make them truthful and honest and thus supply the company with civil servants who could be trusted and depended upon.
  • Following the dispatch, steps were taken to establish a system of university education. Attempts were made to bring about significant changes in the system of school education.

Local Schools

In 1830, a Scottish missionary, William Adam took a round of the districts of Bengal and Bihar to prepare a report about the progress made by vernacular schools. Adam figured that the system of education was flexible and local schools were called ‘Pathshalas’. He also noticed there was no fixed fee, no separate building, lack of chairs and desks and no printed books. Fees were taken on the basis of parent’s income. Classes were conducted under a Banyan tree and the guru interacted with different students on the basis of different biases that were prevalent at that time. 

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Class 8 Civilising the ‘Nation’, Educating the Nation: Impact of the Visit 

After having realised the condition of vernacular schools, in 1854, the East India Company decided to improve the vernacular education by imposing strict order within the system.

A number of government pandits were appointed to look after four to five schools and teaching was now to be based on textbooks. A system of annual examination was introduced. And only those schools were granted government grants that accepted the new rules. The new rules however had some consequences. Students were required to  attend school regularly and inability to attend school was recorded as indiscipline and as evidence of the lack of desire to learn.

The establishment of a new system received mixed reviews from the Indians. While some were of the opinion that western education would help in modernising India, some like Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore were opposed to westen education.

Views on English Education – Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi believed that colonial education created a sense of inferiority and enslaved Indians. He wanted education to be in the medium of Indian languages. Mahatma Gandhi on Western education said, ” focussed on reading & writing rather than oral knowledge; value textbooks rather than practical knowledge”.

Views on English Education – Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore started Shantiniketan in 1901. He wanted to establish schools where children could be free and creative and explore their thoughts. He considered school to be a time of self learning. He emphasized on the importance of learning science and technology. He set up his own school in Calcutta “Shantiniketan”, called it an “abode of peace”. 

The Difference between the Educational Views of Mahatma Gandhi & Rabindranath Tagore

While Mahatma Gandhi believed western education was hampering Indian culture, he was also of the opinion that western education could modernise but not educate.

On the other hand, Tagore believed in the culmination of western education with Indian traditions. He recognised the importance of science and technology. He wished to propagate it with art, music and dance.

Check Class 8 Science Notes

Civilising the ‘Native’, Educating the Nation Questions –

Let’s solve a few questions from NCERT to test your understanding. 

Q. Match the following:

William JonesPromotion of English education
Rabindranath TagoreRespect for ancient cultures
Thomas MacaulayGurus
Mahatma GandhiLearning in a natural environment
PathshalasCritical of English education


William JonesRespect for ancient cultures
Rabindranath TagoreLearning in a natural environment
Thomas MacaulayPromotion of English education
Mahatma GandhiCritical of English education

Q. State whether true or false:

(a) James Mill was a severe critic of the Orientalists.
(b) The 1854 despatch on education was in favour of English being introduced as a medium of higher education in India.
(c) Mahatma Gandhi thought that the promotion of literacy was the most important aim of education.
(d) Rabindranath Tagore felt that children ought to be subjected to strict discipline.


(a) True
(b) True
(c) False
(d) False

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