Friday, 28 December 2012

Western Education and Kuriakose Elias Chavara Model Education in Kerala





The rulers in Kerala were convinced of the need for education. The western missionaries made good use of the favourable situation and established schools. The pioneers in the education field included London Missionary Society (LMS) who were active in South Travancore, Church Mission Society (CMS)  based in Central Travancore and Basel German Evangelical Mission in Malabar. But it required a humble school which Kuriakose Elias Chavara established in Mannanam to be a game changer in the Kerala scenario.

London Missionary Society (LMS)
The London Missionary Society’s main centre was in South Travancore. Rev. Mead who was part of LMS was a pioneer in female education. He spent more than half a century in educational work in South Travancore.

Church Mission Society (CMS)
The focal point of the activities of the Church Mission Society was in Kottayam. In 1821 a grammar school was started at Kottayam. The wives of Church missionaries played an important role in initiating female education. The Christian missionaries also started schools in Mattancheri and Thrissur. In 1818 Rev. J. Dawson opened an English School at Mattancheri and in 1837 Mr. Brandenburg started an English School at Thrissur.

Basel German Evangelical Mission
The main Centers of Basel Evangelical missions were Calicut and Tellicherry. In 1848 a Primary School was established at Kallayi which later became Malabar Christian College. The Brennan College of present had a humble beginning in 1856 as an  English school at Tellicherry.

Swati Tirunal and English Education
Swati Tirunal was born on 16th April 1813 as the Son of Rajarajavarma Valiya Koil Tamburan and Gouri Lakshmi Bai. He was genius with proficiency in eighteen languages. Being aware of the importance of English education, he opened an English school at Trivandrum in 1834.

The Advantage of  English Education 
The Kings and family members were interested in English. It was a royal language. As the British were ruling it created opportunities for employment and gave privilege and respect to the society.  But the slaves had a different story to tell.

Education of the Slaves
The low caste people lived in a pathetic situation in the eighteenth century. They were uneducated and were treated like animals. Education was a privilege and exclusive right of higher caste people.

In 1850 Anglican Bishop T. G. Rogant visited Thiruvathamkur and was disheartened at the sight of the wretched situation in which the low caste people were in. With the firm conviction that all are equal in front of God, he established educational institutions for them. 

Even though the Government of Kochi and Thiruvathamkur appreciated missionaries' education, they later turned against giving education to slaves. The influence of higher caste people is said to be behind such a change in mind.

Chavara Model of Education
In the midst of raging opposition against education of slaves from government and at a time when education for different castes under a roof was impossible, Kuriakose Elias Chavara did the unthinkable at Mannanam. He established an education institution where a Nair teacher taught Sanskrit (considered as the language of gods!) to the children of all the caste who sat in the same class without distinction. It was indeed a revolution, the ripples of which can be felt even now.


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