As compared to some advanced nations, the condition of adult education in our country is in a poor state. However, steps are being taken in this direction. A brief account of these steps taken in the country is given below.
India did not make any noteworthy progress in the sphere of adult education during the first two decades of the 20th century. Only in the provinces of Madras, Bombay and Bengal some night schools were established, but the aims of adult education remained undefined in these institutions.
Arrangements were also made in these schools to give some sort of education to boys who could not attend regular schools because their poverty drove them to work at a young age. In year 1909 the number of such institutions in Madras,
Bengal and Bombay were 775, 1,082 and 107 respectively. The number decreased in the succeeding years. The people were given some rights by the foreign government in the year 1921 by virtue of which they entered the legislatures. The representatives of the people in the legislatures felt the necessity of adult education and they made efforts to draw the attention of the government to this important problem. Consequently, some libraries were set up.
From 1920 onwards education came in the hands of the people’s representatives in the legislature. These representatives felt the need of adult education. Hence adult education made some progress in the provinces of Punjab, U.P., Bombay and Madras.
The pace of expansion of adult education went down from 1929 onwards due to economic conditions. Many centres of adult education had to be closed down. Political upheavals and social inequalities also created obstacles. Only a few missionaries could continue their good work in this sphere.
Bombay as compared to other provinces made better progress till 1937. ‘Adult Education League’ of Poona and ‘Sewa Sadan’ ‘Social League’, and ‘Bombay City Literacy Centre’ of Bombay was some of the liberal organisations which kept on the work of adult education and through their selfless efforts nearly 143 institutions were established till the year 1923-33.
These institutions had about 5,660 student students and adult on their rolls. By 1937 the number of schools and students went up to 180 and 6,229 respectively. Libraries were also established at Baroda and Travancore but the progress slowed down by the end of the year 1937.
In the majority of provinces, with the formation of the popular ministries in accordance with the Government of India Act 1935, the people’s representatives raised the voice for the expansion of adult education.
The governments in provinces also felt the need of educated citizens who could understand the responsibilities of citizenship so that they might prove helpful in the implementation of various welfare plans. With Government and public co-operation the adult education programme gathered momentum and the work continued with greater vigour.
Having realised the importance of adult education the government made efforts to give it a proper shape.
While lying down the curricula of adult education its sphere was extended from ordinary literacy to social education and beside making provision of books for educational purposes other equipments like magic lanterns, pamphlets and cinema-shows were also arranged.