Just as British administrative system teemed with defects, yet the hardships resulting therefore inspired the Indians to fight for freedom, in the same manner the British educational system was undoubtedly defective, yet it was this very system which enabled India to develop deep cultural contacts with other progressive countries of the west.
Time and circumstances are the best judges of everything. The evolution of the British system of education through the conditions prevailing in India at that time, and through the clashes and conflicts between the old and the new, Orientalism and Occidentalism and between tradition and progressivism, proved a boon of India.
More Good than Harm:
It would be improper to imprecate British education wholesale merely on the score that it did not conduce to the individual or national development, because inspite of these defects the system had also some such qualities and merits which proved very beneficial for the country both directly and indirectly. But this is not the truth.
The British Government always remained indifferent towards the proper planning of education in India so much so that Hastings, Minto, Princep and others opposed the introduction of English education in India, whereas liberal leaders of India, like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, worked with heart and soul for its establishment in the country. The efforts which Macaulay and Bentinck made for English education in India appear to have had their goodwill for the country.
During the last years of the eighteenth century India was in great throes due to political disintegration, social animosities, traditionalism and superstitions. It had neither become acquainted with the new ideas of the West, nor did it have the power either to preserve intact its ancient culture, literature and ideals or to help them advance. All the paths of progress in the country were beset with difficulties and clouds of pessimism overcast the firmament of India.
Apart from acquainting us with the progress that the world had made as well as with Western knowledge and wisdom, the English system dressed up a new, in the English medium, the old stories of our ancient culture, literature, history and religion. All the treasures which we had forgotten and which had been destroyed by time, was given back to us in the English form by the kindness of such great men as Max Muller, Williams and others.
The introduction of English as the medium of instruction did adversely affect our mother tongues, but nevertheless it was this very factor which indirectly induced us to develop our languages. Several languages were prevalent at the time of the introduction of English education, but apart from Sanskrit and Persian no other language was so developed as to be fit for being adopted as the medium of instruction.
Besides, the English scholars and officers made philological studies of the various languages of the country and prepared dictionaries and grammar. They even published magazines and periodicals in these languages. All this might have been done from a selfish motive for the propagation of their religion; nevertheless, India will always remain indebted to them on this score.
Besides acquainting the Indians with the knowledge of the west arid the glory of ancient India along with its literature and culture, English education also rekindled in the people the spirit of nationalism.
It was due to this education that the pearls of ancient Indian thought and feeling were wreathed together and it was again due to the universality of the English language that we could acquaint the world with ancient wisdom of our country.
There appears to be no need for holding the brief for English educational system because it is due to this very system that English ethics, arts and crafts, laws and rules, literature, science and administrative system are still prevalent in India and are useful also.