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Calcutta University Commission, The


Calcutta University Commission, The was appointed by the Government of India in 1917 to conduct an investigation into the problems connected with the university of calcutta, and to make recommendations on the question of the proposed university of dhaka. Presided over by ME Sadler, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, the Commission had other distinguished members like JW Gregory, pj hartog, Professor Ramsay Muir, Sir asutosh mookerjee, WW Hornwell (the then DPI of Bengal) and Ziauddin Ahmad (a teacher of Aligarh College). G Anderson (Assistant Education Secretary of India) was to act as the Secretary of the Commission.

The Sadler Commission (as it was called) assembled during the first week of November 1917. On the advice of the President, the members toured India extensively, visiting most of the educational centres, colleges and schools and presented a monumental report to the government of India on 18 March 1919. The Commission proposed that the duty of providing training at the intermediate stage should be transferred to the intermediate colleges. It recommended the creation of a Board of Secondary and Intermediate Education empowered to appoint advisory and other committees. It opined that the majority of the Board should consist of non-official members, but would allow special representation to Hindu and Muslim interests. The Board would have a salaried President appointed by the government. The Director of Public Instruction would act as an ex-officio member.

The report of the Commission was not unanimous; two of its members - Ziauddin Ahmad and JW Gregory - submitting their own note of dissent. Obviously, the main recommendations of the Commission dealt with almost all aspects of education covering the whole spectrum of Bengal education above the primary level. The Commission was of the opinion that no satisfactory reorganisation of the University system of Bengal would be possible unless a radical reconstruction of secondary education, upon which the University's work was dependent, could be carried into effect.'

The Commission suggested several important remedies for the eradication of the shortcomings that plagued the existing University system. It proposed the creation of a real teaching University for Calcutta and for the immediate execution of the project of establishing a University at Dhaka [Dacca]. For the proposed University at Dhaka, the Commission overturned the recommendations of the nathan commission of 1912, which practically amounted to a state institution -almost a special branch of the administration.

The Commission recommended an almost autonomous University, making it responsible for its internal administration, finance and all formal teaching. As for the lower tier of higher education, the Commission maintained that no satisfactory reorganisation of the University system of Bengal would be possible without radically reorganising secondary education system. The role of the Calcutta University would predominantly be that of a teaching University consisting of incorporated and constituent colleges. Incorporated colleges would be those which would be owned and managed by the University. The conditions of admission to the rank and privileges of a constituent college would be defined by the University statutes. The presidency college would play its role as the best equipped in the University, at least ten chairs would be held by teachers of this college and would be known as Presidency Chairs.

Among its other important recommendations were the formation of an Islamia College for Muslim students to which University Chairs or Lectureships for Arabic, Persian and Islamic History were to be attached. An orthodox Hindu College based on the Degree Department of the sanskrit college holding University Chairs or Readerships in Sanskrit and Pali was also proposed.

The Commission suggested vital reforms regarding the mofussil colleges scattered throughout Bengal. It foresaw the necessity of creating new Universities in the mofussil areas. The Commission envisaged a three-year honours course and the appointment of Professors and Readers by special Selection Committees including external experts.

For the promotion of students' health and welfare the post of a Director of Physical Training holding the rank and salary of a Professor and the formation of a Board of students' Welfare also featured in the proposals. The Commission, with a view to addressing itself to women's education urged the establishment of a special Board of Women's Education in Calcutta University. The need for professional and vocational training also received considerable attention. The formation of the Department for Oriental Studies was the outcome. As regards medicine, the Commission recommended that the calcutta medical college and the Belgachia Medical College form constituent colleges of the teaching university. The establishment of a Dental College was also in its proposals.

The Commission recommended that the Civil Engineering College at Sibpur should form a constituent college of the University and would not only provide training in Civil Engineering but also in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Mining and Architecture. In order to broaden the options of commercial careers the creation of a School of Agriculture was proposed. The importance of the scientific study of vernaculars also received the attention of the Commission. Separate departments of Education were to be formed in the Universities of Dhaka and Calcutta and Education included as a subject in the Intermediate, BA and MA degree examinations. Finally the Commission stressed the need for training of manpower for the industrial development of the country. In effect, the recommendations of the Sadler Commission turned out to be crucial not only for the University of Calcutta but also in the evolution of the teaching Universities of India as a whole. [Rachana Chakraborty]