There were conflicting views on educating Indians among the British. However, two British officers William Jones and Henry Thomas Colebrook thought otherwise. William Jones, a junior judge at the Supreme Court in Calcutta was a linguist and fascinated by the Sanskrit language.
Jones and Colebrook formed the Asiatic Society of Bengal to conduct Oriental studies; which meant scholarly knowledge of the culture and language of Asia. By the end of the 18th century, oriental institutions like madrasa and Hindu College were set up at Calcutta and Benares respectively.
In the early 19th century, British officials James Mill and Thomas Babington Macaulay vociferously opposed the Oriental education and wanted to promote Western Education in India.
Thomas Babington Macaulay stressed on the need to teach English language in India and subsequently the English Education Act of 1835 was passed. According to this act, English was to be made the medium of teaching for higher education and oriental institutions would no longer be promoted.
In 1854, a despatch popularly known as Wood’s Despatch was issued by Charles Wood, the president of the East India Company’s Board of Control. It outlined the educational policies to be followed in India and highlighted the practical benefits of the European educational system.
Following the Wood’s Despatch, educational departments of British government were set up.