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Army Education Corps
 
History and Tradition
 

Introduction

1.     The Educational training of the Indian troops started with the establishment of the East India Company. As a matter of fact, there was neither a regular army nor a uniform system for training of troops in India till the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Origin of Educational System in the Army

2.     The Educational system was evolved for the Company's army in India primarily as a welfare measure. Secondarily for their own benefit and lastly because of the persistent demand of the men. As the Company army comprised the British troops, the Company's European troops and the Indian troops, the Educational training was separately evolved for them. The nature of the Company army, the socio-political and military development both in India and England were the prime factors responsible for the establishment of an Educational system for the army.

Army Education Under East India Company

3.     The beginning of an Educational system for the army in India can be traced back to the establishment of the British Regimental Schools in India for providing training to the British troops in India. Some of the British Regiments had brought the sergeants, "The School Master", along with them for the purpose of imparting instructions to their troops. But the number of schoolmasters and mistresses were negligible in proportion to the strength of the troops. As a result, the commanding officers were permitted to appoint educationally qualified non- commissioned officers as acting masters. The Company's European troops made a similar request for the provision of educational facilities for them and their children. The Company and the Army School masters acceded to the request and Army School mistresses were posted in Regimental Schools for European troops to impart instruction to their troops and their children. Under the patronage of Warren Hastings, the then Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of India, a number of Regimental schools were opened and barrack libraries were established for European troops in India between 1774 to 1785.

4.     The Indian sepoys formed a major part of the Company's army and their number continuously increased to reach 2,14,000 in 1856. Indian troops belonged to various castes, tribes and religions. Some part of general education was required for them as they were basically illiterate but the East India Company, which by then had transformed itself from a commercial concern to a political organization and was busy with the task of conquest and consolidation of British power in India, had neither time nor inclination for the education of Indian sepoys. However, the following factors compelled the Company to make provisions for educational facilities for the Indian troops :-

(a)     To keep pace with the general development in the field of education in the army. The educational facilities had been provided to the British troops and the Company's European troops and the education for the Indian troops who formed the bulk of the Company's army could no longer be ignored.

(b)     To keep pace with the general development in the field of civil education in India.

(c)     The Wood's Dispatch popularly known as the `Magna Carta' of English Education in India had laid the foundation of a sound educational system for the Indians. In the wake of general awareness amongst the masses the East India Company could no longer ignore the education of Indian sepoys.

(d)     The Indian troops formed the bulk of the Company's army and as such the education of Indian sepoys was a vital element in the military efficiency of the Company's army.

(e)     Educating Indian sepoys could raise and maintain their morale.

5.     As a result, the need to provide educational facilities to the Indian troops was recognized by the Company and a few schools were opened in 1856 in some of the Indian battalions to provide instruction to Indian troops on voluntary basis. The problem of procuring trained instructors was met by opening instructor's training schools in the three presidencies of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.

6.     The education of the Indian troops had caught the attention of the East India Company when mutiny broke out in 1857 leading to the liquidation of the East India Company and assumption of direct control of the Government of India by the Crown. The military forces of the Company were absorbed into the Queen's troops. As a result of these changes the education of the Indian troops suffered a major setback for some years to come.

 

Education Under The Crown

 

7.     Far reaching changes took place in army education under the Crown: -

 

(a)     Concept of education emerged more clearly.

(b)     Aims and objectives of educational training were defined for the first time.

(c)     Organizational set up was worked out to keep pace with the developments of educational training from time to time.

(d)     Army certificates were introduced and linked with pay and promotion.

(e)     Roman Urdu was adopted as the medium of instruction for the army.

(f)     Training directives were issued for implementation of the educational training.

(g)     Army Educational Corps was raised in 1921.

(h)     Army schools of education were set up in 1921 to train instructors for the British and Indian troops.

 8.     The regimental schools for the British and the Indian troops were established in their respective regiments during 1858-1920. During the said period the educational facilities provided to the British and the Indian troops were motivated by a deep sense of welfare and a sincere desire to raise and maintain the morale of the troops and thus the Adjutant General exercised command and control over Regimental schools.

 

9.     The rapid developments in the field of science and technology during World War-I affirmed the need for an educated soldier. On 05 Jul 1891, the then Secretary of State declared that henceforth education would be regarded as an integral part of the army training. It was followed by another declaration that the educational scheme would also apply to British troops in India. On 31 Mar 1920, for the first time the aims and objectives of education for the Indian Army were declared by Army Headquarters, India. With the changes in the policy also came the changes in the set up. The educational training was transferred to the General Staff Branch in 1921. The Director of Military Training became responsible for the education section also. Simultaneously, Esher Committee was appointed in the same year to report upon the future organization and administration of army in India. Lord Esher submitted his report on 22 Jun 1920. The Committee made strong recommendations for the establishment of the Army Educational Corps. The Esher Committee's report and the course of events taking place in India led the government to announce its decision regarding formation of the Indian Army Educational Corps in 1920. The Indian Army Educational Corps was finally raised on 15 Jun 1921 with an authorized strength of 45 officers, 175 Viceroy's Commissioned Officers, 560 Indian OR. The officer cadre belonged to the Army Educational Corps of the British Army.

10.     In the meanwhile, the Inchoate Retrenchment Committee was appointed to suggest measures to improve the war-shattered economy of India. Lord Inchoate recommended large-scale reductions in the military expenditure. The post-war effects in the form of economic depression, inflation, the natural calamities, the communal dissensions, the general unrest in the country followed by the Non-cooperation movement and revolutionary acts of freedom fighters led the British government to follow a policy of restraint in providing educational facilities to the Indian Troops. Consequently, the Indian Army Educational Corps was disbanded in 1924. However, the Army School of Education, raised in 1921 was continuing the educational training for the British and Indian troops in a miniature form.  

Formation Of The Indian Army Educational Corps

11.     The mass scale of literacy amongst the Indian soldiers, the inadequacy of the education system and the need to prepare the Indian soldiers for the post-war period inspired His Excellency, the Commander-in-Chief India, Sir Claude Auchinleck in 1944 to propose the formation of a self-contained organization to look after the educational training of the Indian troops. He recommended the formation of the Indian Army Educational Corps without delay. With approval of Secretary of State for India, on 30 Apr 1946, the Governor General in council sanctioned the formation of a new corps designated as the Indian Army Educational Corps with effect from 01 Jun 1947. Thus the AEC finally came into existence on 01 Jun 1947 with an authorised regular cadre of 80 officers, 120 Viceroys Commissioned Officers and 400 Indian OR.

12.     When India became a Sovereign Republic on 26 Jan 1950, the decision to drop titles like Royal or Indian as prefix to Indian units and corps was taken. As a result the Indian Army Educational Corps was re-designated as the Army Educational Corps on 01 Nov 1950.

13.     A major milestone was covered when the AEC completed 50 eventful years of its existence and celebrated its Golden Jubilee on 01 Jun 1997. During the past glorious years the Corps has contributed significantly in the field of Army education of independent India.

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