Experimental Field, Laboratory of Modernity: The Beginnings of Popular Education in Colonial India

Harper Memorial Library, Room 103

By the time the Elementary Education Act was introduced in Britain in 1870, India had for decades been a site of pioneering experiments in popular education. This talk explores the beginnings of the modern project of mass primary education in colonial India. It focuses on the perspective of the agents in the field and depicts the uphill struggle of British and Indian educational officials to implement state education at the grassroots level. Imperial policies, hatched in London and Calcutta, were frequently at odds with the on-the-ground realities of the Indian countryside.