The First World War started in Europe in 1914. The outbreak of the war had brought about significant changes in the British policy of administration in India. These changes had made long standing impact on both political and educational scenarios of our country. It is necessary for us to know what these changes were and how they influenced the political and educational aspects of the country. In this unit, we will first discuss the historical background of the setting up of the Hartog Committee in 1929. This includes discussion on the Montford reform and education in the System of Diarchy. This will be followed by formation of the Simon Commission in 1927 and the appointment of the Hartog Committee in 1929 alongwith its recommendations on Primary, Secondary, Higher and other aspects of education. We will conclude with an assessment and evaluation of the recommendations of the committee and its result.
In 1917, Edwin Montaque , the Secretary of State for India had announced in the British Parliament that the goal of the British policy is the progressive realisation of responsible Governance in India. This has created an impresion in the mind of the nationalist leaders that the British Government was willing to give the power of self-administration to Indian people. But when the war came to an end the British Government did not keep their promise. This made the Indian people offended and new political unrest was imminent. In order to meet the situation, the Government passed the Government of India Act in 1919, creating a diarchy in the provincial administration. This Act is known as Montford Reform.
The Montford reforms introduced diarchy in the field of education as well. Under this introduction of some subjects were under the centre and some under the provincial Governments. These were called reserved and transferred respectively. Education was transferred to the representatives of the people. Thus all the educational powers were transferred to the education ministers of the various Provincial Governments but they were given rights within a limited sphere. Finance was kept back as a reserved subject. Without finances education could not proceed. This created problems for the representatives of the people.
The central Government had made the state administrators completely responsible for education in spite of very limited resources at their disposal. It was impossible for them to spend sufficient money for the progress of education. On the other hand, the Governors of the provinces were given unlimited powers. They could intervene even in the transfer of teachers. All these things created a difficult situation for the progress of education. Diarchy did not prove successful in India. A lot of criticism was levelled against it. Thus Montford reform did not help the development of education in the country.
The Indian leaders were not satisfied with the working of diarchy. The nationalist movement by the time became more powerful in the states on account of the repressive measures taken by the Government. In 1921 Gandhiji had launched the Non-cooperation movement and as response to his call students had left their schools and colleges and joined the movement. Thus, the attention of the people was diverted towards political movement.
By responding to the dissatisfaction felt by the Indian people about the Government of India Act of 1919, the Simon Commission was appointed on November 8, 1927, to inquire into the working of the administration under the Government of India Act, 1919. About this time as agitation against the Government was going on, it was felt necessary to give due importance to education in India. The Government therefore authorised the commission to appoint a Committee to help it in preparing a report on education. So the commission appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Phillip Hartog to inquire into the conditions of education in India. Sir Phillip Hartog had served as a number of the Sadler Commission. He had also been a vice-Chancellor of the Dacca University in 1921. Since he was the chairman of the Committee, the Committee was known as Hartog Committee.
The Hartog committee was appointed to enquire the organisation of various aspects of education in India and to give its suggestions for its overall improvement and progress. In the words