Schooling In 1947


Educational institutions have existed in Kashmir in all eras for the last many centuries. However, they were less accessible to certain people in some regimes in the recent past. In this detailed narrative, accessed from a report of the Government of India, the evolution of Kashmir’s educational set-up has been discussed with a focus on the period between 1947 and 1960

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A 1913 photograph of Tyndale-Biscoe boys school, Srinagar by Ralph Stewart

Kashmir has always been renowned for learning and art. Buddhism flourished from the 3rd century BC to the 6th century AD, and it was from here that the Buddhist faith spread into Tibet, China and Central Asia. In the 6thor 7th century AD, the great Shaiva philosophy was expounded here by Vasugupta and other luminaries and held sway over Kashmir until the 14th century AD. It was in this era that Kashmir produced Kalhan, the great historian poet; Patanjali, the grammarian; Charak, the physician and other famous philosophers. Sanskrit manuscripts of this period written in Sharda script provide authentic material for research. A number of centres of learning flourished during this period and the fame of some, such as Sharda and Harwan, spread far and wide and attracted scholars from outside India.

Muslim Era

Muslim divines like Syeed Bilal Shah, popularly known as Bulbul Shah, and Shah Hamdan came from Persia in the 14th century AD and brought Islam with them. It was under the influence of Bulbul Shah that the then King Rinchan of Kashmir embraced Islam in 1324 АD and became the first Sultan. He founded an institution which later produced scholars like Gani and Mohsin Fani. Gani’s name will be remembered with honour as long as Persian poetry is loved and honoured, and Mohsin Fani is famous for his great book on religions known as Dabistan-Mazhib.

The second Sultan continued the patronage of learning and letters. He founded the Jamia Masjid College which had a hostel and provision to teach Philosophy, Mathematics, Logic and theology. Later, a university (Dar-ul-Alum) was established by Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin. The university was of a residential type and drew eminent scholars from Baghdad, Bokhara and Persia. It had a bureau whose task was to translate books from Sanskrit and Arabic into Persian. As a result of the contact of Hinduism with Islam, a new school of thought,

known as Sufism, emerged. The teachings of the new cult were propagated by Muslim divines and saints like Sheikh Noor-ud-Din. They lived a life of self-negation and extreme tolerance and the Sanskrit word Rishi was used frequently to denote the high spiritual position that they occupied.

Mughal Rule

In 1596, when Akbar conquered Kashmir, Sufism was still alive. Later, in Dara Shikoh’s time, a university of Sufism was established under the leadership of Akhund Mullah Shah Badakshani. It was here that the Upanishads and other scriptures were translated into Persian. The building of this university stands to this day on a spur of a mountain overlooking Dal Lake, and is known by the name Pari Mahal.

Eric Biscoe with his school staff namely Badri Nath, Abdul Rahman, Mrs Mukhtara Begum, Ms Gergan, Mrs Fatima and Mrs Ayeisha, a 1968 photograph

From the Moghuls, Kashmir passed to the Afghans; but during, the Afghan rule that lasted 66 years, education and learning suffered a setback. In 1819, Maharaja Ranjit Singh defeated the last Afghan Governor of Kashmir and annexed this State to his dominions. The Sikhs ruled over Kashmir from 1819tо 1846 when the British conquered it and made it over to Gulab Singh, a Dogra chief, who had earlier taken service under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Dogra Rule

Maharaja Gulab Singh (1846-56) spent his years mainly consolidating his power. His son Ranbir Singh was, however, a great patron of oriental learning. He established a Sanskrit Pathashala at Jammu and entered the Punjab University as its first Fellow in 1882. The earliest available Administration Report for 1875 records that the State maintained 14 Madrassahs and Pathashalas and about 240 rural schools. The total number of scholars in all types of schools was 7213 and the total expenditure on education Rs 93,309. The courses of study in these institutions included Sanskrit with 759 students; Persian and Arabic with 1311; English with 59; and Dogri with 5084 scholars. No exact information is available regarding the indigenous Maktabs and

Pathashalas; but there is little doubt that many such institutions operated in the precincts of temples, Viharas and mosques.

It was at the beginning of the present century under the third Maharaja Pratap Singh that the system of education in its present form was first introduced. The lead in Kashmir,as in the rest of India, was given by Christian missionaries.

The first English school was started by the Church MissionarySociety of England at Srinagar in 1880. The Government followed suit and opened, in 1890 a high school at Jammu,a middle school at Srinagar and eight primary schools. A separate Department of Education was organised in 1905.

The Theosophical Society also stepped in and Dr AnnieBesant helped to lay the foundation of the present SPCollege which was first started as a department of HinduCollege at Banaras. Soon afterwards, another college known as the Prince of Wales College was founded in Jammu. The following statistics contained in the report of 1916 show the extent of the private and governmental enterprise in education.

Year Pvt Schools Enrolment Govt Schools Enrolment
1904-05 188 2,849 133 9,814.
1914-15 333 8475 360 27311

Compulsory education (for boys only) was introduced in April 1931 for the first time in the cities of Srinagar and Jammu and was later extended to the town areas of Sopore and Baramulla in Kashmir Province and Мігроге and Udhampur in Jammu Province. The regulations provided for the setting up of attendance committees whose members were expected to popularise education among the masses by personal influence. The committees did not, however, function properly and the Act soon became defunct because of the inadequate machinery to enforce compulsion. The number of pupils in all types of schools (including 842 primary schools) had however risen to 76416 or 10:6 рег cent of the school-age population (6-14) by 1931.

A pre-partition photograph showing the adult education class in progress, possibly in the old Biscoe School.
A pre-partition photograph showing the adult education class in progress, possibly in the old Biscoe School.

Another landmark in the development of education in the State was reached when the Government appointed an education Reorganisation Committee in 1938 under the chairmanship of Sri KG Saiyidain, then Director of Education.

A 25-year plan was drawn up with the object of providing a system of universal free and compulsory education all over the State. Existing curricula and methods were examined.

The committee recommended the reorganisation of the five-year primary course into a seven-year course and also suggested that education should be imparted through the medium of a productive craft. The position with regard to different types of institutions and scholars studying in them in 1947 was as follows.

Schools (No) Scholars (No)
Schools Boys Girls Total Boys Girls total
Primary 1291 280 1571 78190 11917 90107
Middle 153 50 203 29797 7419 37216
High 46 8 54 17124 1166 18290

These figures relate to the undivided Kashmir and they indicate that about 18 per cent of the children of school-going age (6-14) were in attendance.

In 1950, the State Government set up another reorganisation committee with Shri АА Kazmi, then Director of Education, as Chairman. It recommended, inter alia, the elimination of the middle schools and the reorganisation instead of the primary course into an independent unit of seven years’ duration. The emphasis during this period moved from craft-centred basic education to activity-centred education.

Primary Education (1951-1960)

The expansion of primary education has been very rapid after 1950. By the end of the second Plan, the number of children in classes 1-5 was expected to be about 2 lakhs or 40% of the total number of children in the age group 6-11 and the number of primary schools to have more than doubled. But the State is still a long way from the introduction of compulsory primary education. There are several difficulties: the physical terrain of the country, the poor means of communication and the inaccessibility of the far-flung areas, the special needs of the mobile population, social prejudice against women’s education and above all, the poverty of the masses. In view of these obstacles, the target for enrolment in the third Plan is only 60 per cent of the children in the age group 6-11.

Primary education is almost entirely a State responsibility. There is a little private enterprise. Even local bodies like municipalities, town areas committees or panchayats do not maintain any schools of their own.

The minimum qualification prescribed for recruitment as a teacher is matriculation. For women candidates and those coming from backward areas, however, the condition may be relaxed in individual cases with the special sanction of the Government. The duration of the training course for primary teachers is one year and the curriculum includes a craft in order to enable teachers to work in activity schools.

When the Islamia High School in Rajouri Kadal emerged as a brand in the education of Muslims, a chain of similar schools was opened by the Anuman-e-Nusrat ul Islam in various other localities including Dalagte. This is the photograph of Islamia School Drugjan. Pic: Social Media

Until 1947, there were only two training schools, one at Srinagar and the other at Jammu, with arrangements to train only 200 teachers. With the expansion of primary education, training facilities have been expanded. The total number of training schools at present is 10 (exclusive of the two training classes attached to high schools at Leh and Kargil) with a total output capacity of 650 every year. Two of the training schools—one at Jammu and the other at Srinagar—are meant exclusively for women.

The present position of trained and untrained teachers in the primary schools, junior and senior, is shown in the following table.

Primary (Jr Elementary) Central and Middle (Sr Elementary)
Total Trained % Total Trained %
Mean teachers 2860 1442 50.4 1590 905 56.9
Women Teachers 691 517 74.8 246 181 73.6
Total 3551 1959 55.2 1836 1086 59

It will be seen that about 40 to 45 per cent of the existing teachers are untrained. A large number of additional teachers is also needed to expand facilities for primary education. In order to cope with the work of training, not only the backlog of existing untrained teachers but also the additional teachers to be recruited under the programmes of expansion,it is proposed to increase the intake capacity of the training schools in the State by 300 additional seats during the third plan.

Basic Education

The first phase in the development of basic education began in 1939 with the opening of a training school at Srinagar and two basic schools, one at Srinagar and the other at Jammu. The State Government also decided to convert 30 primary schools into the basic pattern every year. This policy continued until 1945 when there were two basic training schools and 152 basic schools functioning all over the State.

Basicreorientation was also given to primary education by introducing craft activities in a number of other schools. But thereafter, the enthusiasm for basic education waned for some time until 1956 when the drive to reorganise education on basic lines was renewed. At present 1185 activity-basic schools function in different parts of the State. The majority of schools provide for agriculture; and in the other schools, crafts are selected according to the local needs and circumstances.

In order to supervise the progress of basic education in the State effectively, two basic supervisors have been appointed. Model basic schools have also been set up in each 22150 of the State. They are located in central places in order to give an opportunity to teachers working in non-basic schools to study their working. Refresher and orientation training courses are conducted every year and teachers are acquainted with the new technique of basic activity education. The Department has also brought out a few guidebooks on basic education for the use of primary school teachers.

Primary School Buildings

Before 1947, the Department initiated a policy of obtaining rent-free buildings for its primary schools. In fact, a rent-free building was made a condition for opening a new school. This policy did not however help much. The houses obtained were often unsuitable, and sometimes a cowshed was all that could be secured.

Early in 1950, a small beginning was made by putting up schoolhouses with local initiative. Village school committees and tehsil boards were set up for the purpose and after a successful experiment at one or two places, a movement was launched throughout the State to construct school houses with the help of the people of the locality. The villagers at many places showed great enthusiasm by donating land and by contributing in voluntary labour or in cash. The State

A photograph from early fifties when the classes would be held in fields post-harvest.

The government-subsidised voluntary effort by providing such building material as was not locally available and wherever possible, also supplied free timber. As a result of this movement, hundreds of school buildings have sprung up in the

State. The movement has conferred another benefit on the people; it has inculcated in them a sense of pride in the school. They no longer regard it as belonging to the Government, they feel that it belongs to them and, in a very real sense, is their own. The movement has gone a long way to create an ‘educational consciousness among the rural and backward areas of the State.

The Government has spent about Rs 40 lakhs during the second Plan in raising school buildings with the help of the local people. The assistance received from the central government for this purpose has been of great value. The department has also constructed model schoolhouses in one or two villages in every tehsil at a cost of Rs 1500 or Rs 2500.

Secondary Education

The following table will indicate the progress of secondary education since independence.

Year High Schools (No) Students (No)
Government Aided Total Government Aided Total
1946-47 Boys 23 23 46 9699 926 17124
Girls 4 4 8 6259 240
1959-60 Boys 125 14 139 41573 8443 65711
Girls 28 7 35 12073 36107

Before 1947, high schools were opened mostly in urban areas. Even some important towns and tehsil headquarters were without any high schools. After 1947, the policy has been to open as many high schools in rural areas as possible. At present, there is hardly a big village that does not have a high school for boys. There were only four high schools for girls before 1947. Every one of the tehsil headquarters has a girls’ high school now. The advance

in secondary education has been more rapid than in any other field of education. The number of high schools, which was only 54 in 1946-47, has risen to 179 (including 24 higher secondary schools) at present.

The higher secondary scheme was introduced in 1948and the State is committed to the eventual conversion of all high schools into the higher secondary pattern. Twenty-four high schools have already been converted during the second plan; 50 more are proposed to be so converted during the Third Plan. A faster pace of conversion is not possible because of several handicaps, such as a lack of trained personnel and lack of funds to provide accommodation for classes, farms, workshops and laboratories. Every higher secondary school offers at least three electives of which two are the Humanities and Science; the third elective is Agriculture or Commerce or the Technical group of studies. There is only one girl’s a higher secondary school with Home Science as the third elective.

There are two post-graduate training colleges for teachers, one at Srinagar and the other at Jammu, in addition to a private college at Srinagar which has a training department attached to it. Their total capacity is to train 250 teachers every year. The two colleges maintained by the Government offer facilities mainly for the in-service training of teachers.


The beginnings of college education date back to 1906 when the first college was set up at Srinagar as a result of the Theosophist enterprise. It was taken over by the Government in 1912-13 and affiliated with the Punjab University at Lahore. Soon after, another college, known as the Prince of Wales College, was opened at Jammu. In 1948, the State had four government and four private colleges, of which one (at Jammu) was for women and one (at Srinagar) for oriental studies. The total enrolment in these institutes stood at 3029.

In 1953 education was made free from the primary to the post-graduate stage. In consequence, the number of private and government colleges has since risen to 15 (12 government and 3 private) and the enrolment has shot up to 7799. In addition, there are 9 private colleges of oriental studies where scholars are prepared for degrees in classical and modern Indian languages. Against Rs 6 lakhs spent on collegiate education in 1953, the expenditure in 1959-60 was Rs 21 lakhs.

Until 1947, all high schools and colleges in the State were affiliated to the Punjab University at Lahore. After the partition, the University of Lahore was included in Pakistan and it, therefore, became necessary for the State to have a university of its own. The University of Jammu and Kashmir came into being in November 1948.

Until 1956, the sphere of its activities was restricted to the conduct of various examinations and to laying down regulations and syllabuses for the different courses. In 1956, however, the university took over post-graduate teaching from the affiliated colleges and started post-graduate departments of English, Economics and Geology. In 1958, post-graduate teaching was started

in three new subjects, namely Hindi, Urdu and Mathematics. Six more departments, namely, for Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology, Education and Commerce are proposed to be opened in the third Five Year Plan.

Professional Education

Technical and vocational education in Jammu and Kashmir had its remote origins in the apprenticeship system which has persisted to this day. The first school of crafts was opened in 1876 and was intended only for destitute children and orphans. A technical school known as the Shri Amar Singh Technical Institute was started in 1912 at Srinagar, followed by another in Jammu known as Sri PratapTechnical Institute.

Before 1947, six more schools had been started in six important towns of the State, namely, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Samba, Mirpur, Baramulla and Anantnag. These schools were primarily intended to promote the development

of arts, crafts and cottage industries. The Education Reorganisation Committee (1938) found that these schools were not popular and that they were not playing the expected role in the development of arts and crafts. In pursuance of the recommendations of the committee, the control of technical schools was transferred from the Industries Department to the Department of Education in 1940. It was then proposed to reorganise these institutions into efficient secondary vocational schools. Unfortunately, nothing could be achieved owing to the outbreak of the Second World War.

The schools continued to languish till 1947 when most of them were disrupted by the raids that followed. Immediately after 1947, the six mofussil schools were closed down and their equipment and teachers were accommodated in the local high schools. In 1950, the two institutions at Jammu and Srinagar were also amalgamated with two high schools which were converted into multipurpose high schools.

Amar Singh College Srinagar

A planned and serious attempt to introduce technical education in the State is thus of very recent origin. A polytechnic was established in 1958 in Srinagar, with courses in electrical, mechanical and civil engineering. Another polytechnic on the same pattern has recently been opened at Jammu. The government has also started two industrial training institutes, one at Srinagar and the other at Jammu, with a total intake capacity of 164 trainees for a number of engineering and non-engineering trades. The duration of the training in these two institutes is from six to nine months. On successful completion of their training, the candidates are awarded certificates under the Craftsmen Training Scheme sanctioned by the Central Ministry of Labour and Employment. The expenditure on these two institutes is shared by the State and the Centre in the ratio of 40:60. To produce technologists at a higher level, a regional engineering college has been started at Srinagar (1959). The college is managed by an autonomous board of governors drawn from the Centre and the State and is affiliated with the Jammu and Kashmir University. The government has also opened a medical college at Srinagar with the capacity to train 90 doctors every year. The first batch of graduates in medicine is likely to come out in 1965. Two agricultural colleges – one at Sopore (Kashmir) and the other at Ranbir Singh Pora (Jammu) have also been started during the current year.

(Review of Education In India: Jammu and Kashmir (1947-61), a publication of National Council of Education and Training, Ministry of Education)


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