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The Dilemma Of Colonial Education Class 10 History NCERT
Class 10 History students should refer to the following NCERT Book chapter The Dilemma Of Colonial Education in standard 10. This NCERT Book for Grade 10 History will be very useful for exams and help you to score good marks
The Dilemma Of Colonial Education NCERT Class 10
The Dilemma of Colonial Education
French colonisation was not based only on economic exploitation. It was also driven by the idea of a ‘civilising mission’. Like the British in India, the French claimed that they were bringing modern civilisation to the Vietnamese. They took for granted that Europe had developed the most advanced civilisation. So it became the duty of the Europeans to introduce these modern ideas to the colony even if this meant destroying local cultures, religions and traditions, because these were seen as outdated and prevented modern development.
Education was seen as one way to civilise the ‘native’. But in order to educate them, the French had to resolve a dilemma. How far were the Vietnamese to be educated? The French needed an educated local labour force but they feared that education might create problems. Once educated, the Vietnamese may begin to question colonial domination. Moreover, French citizens living in Vietnam (called colons) began fearing that they might lose their jobs – as teachers, shopkeepers, policemen – to the educated Vietnamese. So they opposed policies that would give the Vietnamese full access to French education.
2.1 Talking Modern
The French were faced with yet another problem in the sphere of education: the elites in Vietnam were powerfully influenced by Chinese culture. To consolidate their power, the French had to counter this Chinese influence. So they systematically dismantled the traditional educational system and established French schools for the Vietnamese. But this was not easy. Chinese, the language used by the elites so far, had to be replaced. But what was to take its place? Was the language to be Vietnamese or French?
There were two broad opinions on this question. Some policymakers emphasised the need to use the French language as the medium of instruction. By learning the language, they felt, the Vietnamese would be introduced to the culture and civilisation of France. This would help create an ‘Asiatic France solidly tied to European France’. The educated people in Vietnam would respect French sentiments and ideals, see the superiority of French culture, and work for the French. Others were opposed to French being the only medium of instruction. They suggested that Vietnamese be taught in lower classes and French in the higher classes. The few who learnt French and acquired French culture were to be rewarded with French citizenship.
However, only the Vietnamese elite – comprising a small fraction of the population – could enroll in the schools, and only a few among those admitted ultimately passed the school-leaving examination. This was largely because of a deliberate policy of failing students, particularly in the final year, so that they could not qualify for the better-paid jobs. Usually, as many as two-thirds of the students failed. In 1925, in a population of 17 million, there were less than 400 who passed the examination. School textbooks glorified the French and justified colonial rule. The Vietnamese were represented as primitive and backward, capable of manual labour but not of intellectual reflection; they could work in the fields but not rule themselves; they were ‘skilled copyists’ but not creative. School children were told that only French rule could ensure peace in Vietnam: ‘Since the establishment of French rule the Vietnamese peasant no longer lives in constant terror of pirates … Calm is complete, and the peasant can work with a good heart.’
2.2 Looking Modern
The Tonkin Free School was started in 1907 to provide a Westernstyle education. This education included classes in science, hygiene and French (these classes were held in the evening and had to be paid for separately). The school’s approach to what it means to be ‘modern’ is a good example of the thinking prevalent at that time. It was not enough to learn science and Western ideas: to be modern the Vietnamese had to also look modern. The school encouraged the adoption of Western styles such as having a short haircut. For the Vietnamese this meant a major break with their own identity since they traditionally kept long hair. To underline the importance of a total change there was even a ‘haircutting chant’:
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