Thursday, 24 September 2015

Ooty's Breeks memorial school and Lord Macaulay

Macaulay by John
Breeks Memorial Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School,Ooty,

 What connection does Ooty, Tamil Nadu have with Lord Macaulay (of East India company), the man who introduced English in India?  By the same token, what has Breeks Memorial Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School, Ooty got to do with Macaulay in the late 1800s?

Thomas Babington Macaulay (October 1800 – 28 December 1859),  born in 1800,  was a pioneer in the field of judicial system which still holds good in many common wealth countries. In this respect, as an author of efficient legal system none could excel him. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) widely used in the Indian judiciary system  was introduced by Macaulay.  He played a major role in introducing English and western concepts to education in India and was the one who pushed the English language as an important   global language of business it is today. He came to India to work as a member of Supreme council to advise the Governor General and in 1938 he recommended the introduction English in the Indian education system, replacing Sanskrit and Persian. His father Zachary Macaulay, a Scottish anti-slavery reformer who had served as governor of Sierra Leone. Before traveling to India, Macaulay was a parliamentarian.

As for Macaulay's  strong decision to introduce English, replacing  Sanskrit and Persian,  he stuck to the view that  it was a moral imperative to educate the Indians in English ways, not to keep them submissive but to give them the potential eventually to claim the same rights as the English.

 heritage building housing Breeks School in Ooty.

His everlasting legacy is the wide use of English in India and across the world and a standard Legal system covering civil as well as criminal laws.

Breeks Memorial Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School , located at Charing Cross on the threshold of this hill station, is a Christian Co-educational School established in 1874 and was named after James Wilkinson Breeks, the first commissioner (Collector) of the Nilgiris (1868-72). The school has been functioning in a heritage building since its inception. The school was established for poor Europeans and Eurasians by public subscription. Anglo Indian syllabus upto secondary school is being followed here.

Unlike others schools started by the English during the colonial days, this school had the unique honor of having been visited by a famous English personality who made the English language globally important. Yes, it was here in this school on the Nilagiri hills,  in the serene, peaceful  surroundings  Lord Macaulay got down to the difficult task of preparing the syllabus  for the Indian educational system under the British rule. He preferred an educational system that would produce  a class of anglicized Indians who would serve as cultural intermediaries between the British and the Indians. By doing so, Macaulay wanted to "educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother tongue" and thus, by incorporating English, he sought to "enrich" the Indian languages so "that they could become vehicles for European scientific, historical, and literary expression