Educational Scenario in The Early Years of British Rule in Assam : A Study From 1826 To 1901.
The paper is an attempt to provide a glimpse of the educational scenario in the early years of British rule in Assam. Assam had come under British rule in 1826. David Scott a covenanted civil servant was appointed Agent to the Governor General Northeast frontier in 1823 by the British East India Company who ruled over Assam until 1857 and later under the British Crown from November 1858 onwards like other parts of India . While setting up the new administration in Assam, David Scott continued with the prevailing indigenous mode of education where instructions mostly of religious nature were imparted moulding people to lead only pious lives and hence rendering them unfit for any official work. Finding it problematic, amlahs( agents or officers) had to be recruited by David Scott from neighbouring Bengal for official works to tide over the crisis. Much credit goes to Sir Francis Jenkins , Commissioner of Assam who realized the importance of imparting education, the three R’s, to the natives of the province to make them fit for official assignments which led to the beginning of schools. The introduction of written pattas( lease deed) instilled curiosity amongst the ignorant masses to have knowledge of the three R’s to avoid being deceived. The Christian missions particularly the American Baptist mission’s contribution to the field of education in Assam is indeed noteworthy. Gradually institutions of higher learning were also set up through the efforts of Manik Chandra Baruah , Sir Henry Stedman Cotton and others resulting in the birth of Cotton College in 1901.
Key Words- British rule, David Scott, Francis Jenkins, Christian missions, schools, Cotton College.