Science Education in Pre-Independence Period
British conquest on the nation marked a notable incident in the Indian history, as it led to various kinds of changes in the nation. Main objective of British government was to produce such people who were Indian in body but British in soul. They wanted to eradicate all the features which were considered to be traditions of India.
Although various steps were taken by British government to neutralise all the Indian content from the nation, but still there were some positive points which prove to be in favour of the nation. For instance, Britishers introduced English education in the nation, as a result of which, modern science got also introduced in the school curriculum.
Thus British government introduced new system of education in which medium of instruction was foreign English, i.e., English. Although before subject of science was included in the curriculum and people did possess it’s knowledge, but through new system of education, they could get information regarding modern science.
Here it is important to mention that through modern science it implies information regarding developments took place in the field of science and technology. In India, modern science marked a radical change from “medieval and ancient sciences to newer branches of science, which was characterised by fully developed techniques of acquiring information through experimentation works. After this, various scientific institutions came into existence and technology started making a decisive role in the everyday life of Indian people.
Regarding of this, it is shocking that modern science did not make significant headway in our nation during the British period. Process of assimilation became difficult in our culture because of use of foreign language. However, features of modern science were more or less same as of the earlier scientific traditions.
An important reason for slow popularity of science in the nation was that majority of people considered information of modern science as British Thing and did not agree to accept it on wide scale. As number of people during British period was illiterate, they did not understand the information relating to modern science as it was being imparted in the foreign language, which was difficult to understand.
As a result of this, new information did not help masses to move out of their stagnation position and to improve upon their old industries. In the scientific outlook of the people, this was an insufficient breakthrough, as no social and intellectual dialogue could take place on large scale. As a result of which, our nation remained. far behind in scientific and technological development in comparison to various other western countries.
The pathetic condition of science teaching in the nation during British period could be evidenced from the fact that in the eighteenth century, science was not included in the curriculum at schools and other educational institutions imparting higher educations. At the same time, remarkable works in the scientific field were performed by western people, as a result of which general science did get popular in such countries to considerable extent.
Although British government wanted to exploit Indian sources for their own good, but still they took various steps to improve level of education in the nation. An important step taken to analyse the condition of science in the nation was establishment of a Commission known as Royal Commission of Education.
This commission was appointed with the object of analysing the condition of science teaching in the nation. After proper analysation, commission submitted its report in which it was mentioned that it was in very few schools that science was taught as an independent subject.
However, importance of modern science education was felt with the Great World War of 1914- 18. Thus, it can be said that in the pre-indepenendce period, science education got introduced in the Indian schools and universities, however, their scope was very limited and inspite of various steps taken by British government to raise that level, this subject got popular in the nation at slower pace.
Some experts are of the view that no discussion regarding development of science education in India during the pre- independence period can be done without taking into account the history of science in the western nations as whatever happened in the west was being followed in our nation, however at a slower pace.