Education in Pre-colonial India
Dr G. W. Leitner, a linguist and the first principal of Government College Lahore established in 1864, writes in his book A History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab.
“Respect for learning has always been the redeeming feature of ‘the East.’” He further writes, “There was not a mosque, a temple, a dharmsala that had not a school attached with it, to which the youth flocked for religious education. There were few wealthy men who did not entertain a Maulvi, Pandit, or Guru to teach their sons, and along with them the sons of friends and dependents. There were also thousands of secular of secular schools, frequented alike by Muhammadans, Hindus and Sikhs, in which Persian or Lunde was taught. There were hundreds of learned men who gratuitously taught their co-religionists, and sometimes all-comes, for the sake of God-Lillah, There was not a single village who did not take a pride in devoting a portion of his produce to a respected teacher. In respectable Mahomedan families husbands taught their wives, and they their children nor did the Sikhs prove in that respect to be unworthy of their appellation of ‘learners and disciples’.
The excerpt above pays a glorious tribute to the strong tradition of education that existed in pre-colonial India. The respect for educationists was extremely high and the society valued education immensely. Unfortunately, the colonizers dismantled the system totally by injecting a foreign language and thus depriving huge populace from education. From their occupation onwards, education became selective and mass production of colonial mindset ensued.