Before the British rule, there were many pathshalas in India. There were than 100,000 pathshalas with each having had about 20 students. The educational system books, blackboards, benches, time-tables, roll-call registers and exams. The classes were held at a village temple, shop, or under a tree and in many places it was held at the guru’s house.
Teaching was oral and there were no separate classes. The fees in a pathshala depended on the parent’s income. No classes were held at the pathshala during the harvest, as many rural children worked in the fields at this time.
In 1854, the British decided to reform the pathshalas and appointed government pundits to improve the teaching standards of pathshalas and oversee its activities. The gurus were now told to follow a regular time table, teach using textbooks and submit periodic reports. The students had to attend regular classes, pay a fixed fee and clear exams.
Pathshalas that agreed to follow the rules set by the British were given government grants whereas the ones that disagreed were not given any support.
The new system adversely affected the lives of many poor students since they could no longer attend school due to fixed fees and regular time tables. Many gurus too, who wished to work independently found it difficult to compete with the government aided pathshalas.