The Molding of Native Character

Parna Sengupta

in Pedagogy for Religion

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268296
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950412 | DOI:
The Molding of Native Character

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This chapter traces the paradox at the heart of the evangelical advocacy for primary education. Protestant missionaries consistently framed basic education in terms of the eradication of larger social hierarchies, class or caste or slavery. For reform-minded evangelicals basic literacy in the vernacular was an essential part of the religious and social uplift of society, whether one was speaking of poor parishioners in the East End, Bengali villagers, or slaves in the West Indies. At the same time, the historical experience of Nonconformist Protestants in Britain made them wary of any state involvement in education and prompted them to push for a more decentralized, private school system. Thus, the history of primary education in Bengal demonstrates the tension between these two mid-Victorian values of humanitarianism and voluntarism. The paradox lies in the fact that the privatization of education ensured that it would never be fully funded or supported. At the same time, a largely privatized system meant the active involvement of multiple constituencies in the development of a crucial modern institution, the school.

Keywords: molding; character; primary education; evangelicals; literacy

Chapter.  6637 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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