Tags : GS Prelims Paper 1 GS Mains Paper 1 Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues Education Reform in India


  • Sir Charles Wood was the President of the Board of Control, played an important role in spreading English learning and female education in India. 
  • In the year 1854 he sent a dispatch to Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor-General of India.
  • Wood’s suggested that primary schools must adopt vernacular languages, high schools must adopt Anglo-vernacular language and at college-level English should be the medium of education. This is known as Wood's despatch. 
  • The Despatch first throws light on the aims and objectives of educational policy of the Company in India. 
  • It gave highest priority to the responsibility of Indian Education overall other responsibilities of the Company.
  • The Wood’s Despatch is considered as ‘Magna-Carta’ of English Education in India.


  • To impart Western knowledge, information about the western culture to the Indians.
  • To educate the natives of India so that a class of public servants could be created.
  • To promote intellectual development and also raise the moral character of the young generation.
  • To develop practical and vocational skills of the Indians people so that more and more articles could be produced and also to create a good market for consumption of those goods.


  • The Wood’s Despatch, for the first time, recommended the creation of a Department of Public Instruction in each of the five provinces of Bengal, Bombay, Madras, the Punjab and the North Western provinces. 
  • Another major recommendation of the Despatch was expansion of mass education. It was observed that the common people were deprived of educational opportunities and therefore much emphasis was given on the increase of setting up primary, middle and high schools. 
  • The Despatch recommended the establishment of universities in the three Presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. The universities were to be modeled after the London University. The universities were to organize departments not only of English but also of Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian, as well as law and civil engineering.
  • The Wood’s Despatch recommended the sanction of a grant-in-aid system in the Indian educational system. 
  • The Wood’s Despatch gave importance to teaching of English, but at the same time, it also stressed on the teaching of Indian languages. 
  • The Despatch recommended that the government should always support education for women. 
  • The Wood’s Despatch recommended the establishment of teacher training schools in each of the provinces. There should be training schools for teachers of engineering, medicine and law.
  • The Wood’s Despath recommended the establishment of a network of graded schools all over the country. 

Impact of Wood’s Despatch

  • Bombay, Madras and Calcutta universities were set up in 1857, as well as the University of the Punjab in 1882 and the University of Allahabad in 1887.
  • In all provinces, education departments were set up.
  • Bethune School which was founded by J.E.D. Bethune, was started for women education.
  • Agriculture Institute at Pusa at Bihar and an Engineering Institute at Roorkee were started.
  • British India witnessed rapid westernisation of education system with European headmasters and principals in schools and colleges.
  • Private Indian educators appeared.