22 December 2016



A Christian priest of Scotland, William Adam came to India in 1818 and spent about 27 years here. He came into contact with Raja Ram Mohan Roy and both of them influenced each other.
He was greatly impressed by Indian views regarding the existence of one almighty god. In due course he renounced Christian priesthood

Lord William Bentinck, the governor general of India appointed Adam in 1835 to survey the state of education in Bengal andBihar and to suggest reforms. Adam submitted 3 reports (1835-1838). His report was a digest of the earlier reports on the subjects. The second and third reports were based on the survey he conducted. The 2nd report was a thorough enquiry on the system of education prevalent in Natlore in the district of raja rajshahi the 3rd report covers 5 districts of Bengal and Bihar and his recommendations for the reform of indigenous schools.


            The following paragraph of the report has led to a good deal of controversy

“By this description are meant those schools in which instruction in the elements of knowledge is communicated, and which have been originated and are supported by the natives themselves, in contradiction form those that are supported by religious or philanthropic societies, the number of such schools in Bengal is supposed to be very great. A distinguished member of the general committee of public instruction in a minute on the subject expressed the opinion , that it one rupee per mensem were expended on each existing village school in the lower provinces, the amount would probably fall little short of 12 lakhs of rupees per annum.  This supposes that there are 100,000 such schools in Bengal and Bihar and assuming the population of those two provinces to be 40,000,000 persons.”

Observations on the first report

While scholars like Sir Philip dubbed the report as a ‘myth’, scholars like R.V. Parulekar considered this report substantially a ‘reality’. The chief point of different opinions revolved round the term ‘school’. Sir Philip considered the term school as an institution in the modern sense with its own structure and number of students of the locality who in return paid fees and other prerequisites and remuneration was paid by the community. According to the other view a school was a place where instruction was given to one student or more students either by the teacher or the father himself or any member of the family.


Adam’s second report covered Naltore Thana, in district rajshahi with a population of 129,640 Muslims and 65,656 Hindus. There were two types of schools i.e., regular schools, similar to modern schools and domestic schools where family members taught or a teacher was employed to teach. As against 27 elementary schools and 262 students, there were nearly 2360, i.e., nearly nine times students in domestic schools. Following were the important findings;

1. Age of schooling: The average age of admission to an elementary school was 8 years and the average school leaving age was 14 years.
2. Schools for the teaching of Quran: There were 11 Arabic schools for this purpose.
3. Type of elementary schools: There were 10 Bengali schools, and 4 Persian schools.
4. Average number of students in a school; the average number of students in a school was 10.
5. Average pay of the teacher: Pay ranged between Rs. 5-8 per month.
6. Female Education: Female education was non-existent
7. Literacy Rate; Literacy percentage was 6.1 percent. Total literary percentage of males   and females was 3.1
8. Indigenous Colleges: There was no indigenous college conducted by Muslims. There were 38 Sanskrit colleges with 397 students.
9. Fees etc in colleges: Food, lodging and education was free in colleges.


Adam’s third report is divided into two parts. The first part covers educational data collected by him for 5 districts, viz., Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan, south Bihar and Tirhut. The second part provides proposals put forward by Adam for the reform of education, especially indigenous.
Method of collection of data and accuracy of rte data: Adam followed two methods. One, he himself collected information from one ‘Thana’ of each district. Second, his agents collected data from all other ‘Thanas’
In the conduct of the survey, two difficulties were encountered with. One related to means of travel and communication and the other related to the various types of suspicions among the people regarding the motive of survey.