The renowned British Commissioner, T.E. Ravenshaw was an educationist par excellence. He lived and worked as the administrator of Odisha Division. During this period he adopted some innovative methods for the development of education in Odisha. Prior to his tenure of office, nobody could take any significant steps for the promotion of education from elementary level to University. The Britishers came to Odisha in 1803. The indigenous system of education was then prevalent in Odisha. The Wood’s Despatch in 1854 ushered a new era in the evolution of British educational policy. The good ideas of Harrison took definite shape with appointment of T.E. Ravenshaw as the officiating Commissioner of the Odisha Division in July 1865.
A large part of Odisha was under the Calcutta Presidency.1 T. E. Ravenshaw had taken keen interest for the progress of primary, secondary, technical and female education, which received greater attention than before. To popularise English education T.E. Ravenshaw, the officiating Commissioner of Odisha Division proposed to raise the status of the school from a Zilla school to a Collegiate school by opening of college classes. In the beginning the mode of teaching of village school teachers was primitive and in some respects clumsy. Thus several important steps were taken for the improvement of elementary village schools. Afterwards the primary education began to develop. In the same way a number of prompt and active supervisors and civil officers were appointed for proper inspection of the schools.
T.E. Ravenshaw actively supported appointment of a separate Inspector for the Oriya-medium schools. In order to supervise the primary schools a Sub-Inspector was appointed for each sub-division of a district in 1872. The system of teaching gradually improved and systematically modified. Thus a number of eminent Sub-Inspectors were required for the proper inspection of the educational institutions.2 Generally the schools were classified into vernacular and Anglo-vernacular schools respectively. Further they were classified in respect of their management as (i) Government managed, (ii) Government aided etc.3 He instituted honour for teachers and rewards for successful students. Special duties were assigned to the inspecting body.
In 1866 the “Na Anka Durbhiksha” swept away the lives of 30 lakhs people. The condition of education in Odisha was severely affected, The Cuttack Zilla school faced a lot of problems. Mr. W.Hunter an eminent Inspector of Schools writes in his reports in this respect:
“The school suffered severely due to the Na Anka famine and 64% of students were affected”. T.E. Ravenshaw the Commissioner of the Odisha Division compared the education of the State with that of other states. He wrote “No other province in the Presidency was so deficient of intelligent and public spirited residents who would appreciate the facts, bearing on the prospects and means of people and who could give practical information to the authorities as would have been the case in any district of Bengal proper and in carrying out remedial measures.”
T. E. Ravenshaw realised that the women education in Cuttack city was totally neglected. The common people were not interested to the growth of women education. They did not send their daughters to the schools because they had bad feelings. The story of Revati high-lighted by Fakir Mohan explained the feelings of the people about the education of their daughters. The Commissioner took initiatives for the growth of women education in Odisha for the first time. A large amount of financial assistance was sanctioned for the development of women education. The Cuttack Girl’s School was at the beginning started as a primary school. But at last he financed for its improvement and spread of women education in our State. In 1873, the name of this girls school was renamed as Ravenshaw Hindu Girl’s School
An important step towards the development of education in Odisha was taken when a medical school was established newly at Cuttack. T.E. Ravenshaw, the Commissioner and Dr. W.D. Stewart, the Civil Surgeon of Cuttack both were interested for spread of medical education in Odisha. A huge amount of financial assistance was needed for its promotion and expansion. Ravenshaw very keenly recommended the sanction of the scheme. Thus the Government decided to start an esteemed institution on experimental basis. His active action and skillful contribution to this institution is always remembered in the history of modern Odisha. At the beginning stage the Government sanctioned only 3,000 Rupees per annum for its improvement.6 The Government highly appreciated the role of Dr. Stewart and Ravenshaw for the initiative taken by them in the establishment of this institution. He offered his free service to supervise and instruct the students. The people of the state were satisfied and a large number of Oriya students were also getting facilities for higher education in Odisha. The saga of its birth, baptism and upbringing is nostalgic and reminds one of the sagacious stewardship of a few worthy sons of Odisha as well as benevolent Britishers whose sincere efforts and perseverance at different points of time could make it see the light of the day.
T.E. Raveshaw highly appreciated the devoted and efficient services rendered to the female orphans by the Baptists. He was not only duty- bound, but also sympathetic towards poor, destitute pupils and respectful to the higher authorities. He was a distinguished administrator of the Department of Education and took keen interest in providing high quality education in schools and colleges. After a dedicated and self- sacrificed service for the spread of education for about 10 years in this state he left Odisha on 5th April 1878.
When T.E. Ravenshaw was the Commissioner of Odisha Division, the then Inspector of Schools, Mr. H.L.Harrison, appreciated his knack and definite work, agreed with the Committee and upgraded the Zilla School into a Collegiate School. The excellent result of Cuttack Zilla School of 1865 and 1866 prompted Mr. Hunter, the Inspector of Schools to write: “This stands unquestionably first among the educational institutions of Odisha, having the largest number of candidates at the entrance examination contrasted with the result obtained by schools deserves unqualified praise, He concluded that the time had arrived for the promotion of collegiate education in Odisha.”
The establishment of Ravenshaw College is the main contribution of T.E. Ravenshaw for the spread of higher education in Odisha. At the beginning stage it was only a small school. But this institution was converted into a full-f1edged first grade college. The famine of 1866 in which about a million people perished made the then Government conscious of the fact that the seriousness of the situation could not be realised because of lack of proper education in the state, There were only six students on the rolls in the B.A. Class, in Ravenshaw College in 1875. The institution gradually went ahead and provided inspiration to the upcoming intellectuals. When T.E. Ravenshaw was appointed as Commissioner of Odisha Division in July 1865, the education system developed throughout Odisha. Lt. Governor of Bengal, Sir Richard Temple, agreed to open a college at Cuttack for the spread of higher education. Ravenshaw gave a memorandum to the authority for the establishment of a degree college.l0 But the Lt. Governor agreed to the proposal on the condition that a contribution of Rs.10,000 was forthcoming from the public. The government sanctioned sufficient financial assistance for its improvement. In this connection Mr. Ravenshaw wrote, “The establishment of a college at Cuttack is an object of personal importance to myself and also of greatest importance to the spread of Higher Education in Odisha.”
The shaky foundation of the Cuttack College was strengthened due to the sacrifice of a worthy son of the soil. The Maharaja of Mayurbhanj in 1879 had contributed Rs.20,000/- to the college. To perpetuate the memory of Ravenshaw, the then Commissioner of Odisha from 1865 to 1878 for his univocal support to Oriya as a separate language and for his memorable service for the promotion of western education in Odisha, the Maharaja proposed to change the name of the college to Ravenshaw College.