Bihar always remained a centre of education from ancient times. It produced many teachers and pupils, who later changed the dynamics of religion. politics, society and space. Some of the most important ones were Chanakya, Panini, Ashtavakra, Aryabhatta. But modern western education in Bihar was only started after the Charter Act of 1833 and the famous 'Macaulay's Minute' in 1835, both of these professed for providing western education in English medium. Macaulay held the belief that Western education and learning was superior than Indian education and learning.
The first modern-western educational school was established in 1835 in Patna. In the same year, another Western school was opened in Purnea. And in the next year a number of District Schools were started in Biharsharif, Bhagalpur, Ara, Chhapra etc.
The first girl's school, was opened in Patna in form of Saint Joseph's School in 1847. Another girl's school, was started in Patna in 1867. Overall progress in girl's education in the British Period was very poor and that legacy still continues.
The first significant step in terms of higher education was taken in form of Patna College, which was established on 9th January, 1863 on the recommendation of Wood's Dispatch, 1854 (prepared by Charles Wood).
- The first University of Bihar was established in 1917 as Patna University.
The Higher education system in Bihar as well as in the country was later highly influenced by the report of Saddler Education Commission (1917-19), which was formed to give recommendation on improving the higher education system in India.
Some of the most important recommendation of the commission were:-
- The Commission recommended that the school education should be of 12 years instead of 10 years earlier.
- Student's should be admitted in colleges only after completing intermediate (12th) instead of matriculation.
- The commission suggested to reduce the rigidity of government regulation over the working of universities.
- One of the most important recommendations of the commission was to make universities more centralised, unitary, residential and autonomous. And hence decrease the number of affiliate colleges.
Development of Scientific and Technical Education
The first significant step in terms of scientific and technical education was taken in form of Agricultural University at Pusa. It was first fully functional Agricultural University in Bihar as well as in India.
For the first time, degree Courses in Physics and Chemistry was started in Patna College in 1919. Later in 1928, Patna Science college was established, which was exclusively for science courses.
In 1926, Indian School of Mines was established in Dhanbad (now in Jharkhand) to provide education in mining technology. It laid the foundation of Engineering education in Bihar. It was followed by Patna Engineering College. After Independence many other engineering Colleges were established, some of the most prominent ones are NIT(Patna), IIT(Patna) and many other public and private Engineering institutions.
First Medical College in Bihar was established in 1925, in form Patna Medical College. It laid the foundation of medical education in the state. Now, there are more than 15 medical colleges in the state including two premier Central institutions i.e. AIIMS (Patna) and Indra Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (Patna).
Religious and Social Organisations' Efforts for Development of Western Education
Dayanand Anglo Vedic(DAV) Schools were established by the Arya Samaj across the state. These schools were established with the aim to provide western education along with Vedic philosophy in English medium.
Raja Rammohan Rai Seminary was also established in the premises of Patna University by Brahmo Samaj to inculcate modern Western education and rational thinking and to eliminate fundamentalism and blind faiths prevailed in the society.
Muslim Education in Bihar
Muslim education in Bihar progressed, developed and spread on the lines of Aligarh Movement, which was started by Sir Saiyyad Khan who preached Muslim masses to get Western Education along with traditional religious teachings.
Bihar Scientific Society was established in Muzaffarpur by Imdad Ali Khan in 1872. It's second branch was started in 1873 in Patna. Later Mohammden Anglo Arabic School was established by Mohammden Education Society in 1886 in Patna City.
Shansul Ulema Mohammed Hassan played most important role in spread of modern western education among Muslims in Bihar.
- Despite all efforts schools during British period remained limited to cities and towns. Which led the rural population of Bihar out of the ambit of modern western education and especially English education.
- The education policies of British government and social taboos in early period of 20th century affected the girl's education significantly and especially the girls belonging to rural areas, because the absence of schools in rural areas and society did not allow girls to go to cities to get education.
- This situation still prevails after more than 70 years of independence and did not change much. According to Census Report-2011 only 51.5% women in the state are literate, which is lowest in India.
- British Period Universities were limited to big cities and towns only, which created an educated few over mass illiteracy and and uneducated people.
- Despite of increase in the number of colleges and universities in the state higher education in the state is performing very poorly due to many issues such as no regular classes, mis-management of colleges/universities, late exams, mass cheating and fraud in examination process.
- In terms of scientific, medical and technical education the situation was also not too good during pre-independence era, when only few colleges and institutions were present in comparison to other parts of the country.
- Large number of students from Bihar, even today migrate to other states for getting medical, engineering and other professional education, because of the absence of good quality institutions in the state.
Despite being the hub of education in ancient times, Bihar lagged heavily during the medieval and colonial era before independence and even after independence. The land of Bihar, which produced many Jems of arts, science, medicine and even space is now the most illiterate state of the country.
The education policies of the British government were aimed at creation of an educated few, which led to creation of very large number of sections of Indian society which was uneducated and even illiterate. This gap created during pre-independence era could not bridged till now.
The policies of the state government are still not very good at all. Rampant corruption in education department and recruitment process resulted into people who can not even read books, became teachers. Which further affecting the quality of education in Government Schools in the state.