It should be noted here that a missionary is not a new phenomenon in this country. For the last 500 years at least there have been foreigners coming in to the country to preach Christianity to the people here. During the past 250 years, and more so during the last 150 years, there has been a continuous stream of people sent out by both the Protestant and the Catholic churches in the west in order to convert Indians to the Christian faith.
Meanwhile, under British rule generally, there was an attitude of benevolent neutrality towards Christen missions. There was no discrimination against Christian work in colonial India. Therefore foreign missionaries felt that in times of trouble and misinterpretation, they could rely upon the moral support of the British government. They even with the help of colonial rulers began to conduct surveys, undertook village and slum works, organised work camps to attract depressed-class masses for possible conversion.
Therefore, the missionaries and to be more specific, the Protestant missionaries often exalted the Bible as the ultimate source of authority and made it as a condition that if individual had to worship god alright, he must be able to read. This is how education and evangelism were interlinked and the former constituted the basis for preparation of eveangelism. Therefore, the involvement of missionaries in educational programmes was to be viewed as supplementary to the primary task of spreading the spiritual message to the people.
However, their intentions to start schools for the dissemination of the gospel with the chief aim of making Christians especially youth read the Bible, take active part in religious services and later become the mainstream of the Indian churches could not give them any success. Hence, in order to attract the children, missionaries supplied dress, food and money as their reward for their attending the school regularly and taught the children Bible with other subjects. It is to be mentioned here that the object of missionary education was not primarily the civilisation, but the evangelisation of the Hindus. It is evident from the fact that missionaries considered schools the converting agencies that too their value of education was based on the estimation of the number who were led by the instructions they receive to renounce idolatry.
Further more, the importance of education as a means of spreading the gospel among the Hindus had been deeply felt by many who had taken part in the work of evangelising India. Therefore, the principle and practice of missionary education laid down that its religious character and purpose should under no circumstances be hidden from the people and also the government of the country.
Even through the annals of modern missionaries, the new branch of missionary activities called Educational Mission owes its inception to Alexander Duff of Scotland, some attention was paid to vernacular education in this direction. Besides the primary studies of reading, writing and arithmetic constant attention was paid to Christian catechism and the scriptures. But, no Hindu books were allowed in the schools. The children within a distance of three or four miles were expected and sometimes were also compelled with their masters to attend religious services.
Emphasis had shifted from time to time, but educational policy had persisted un-changed in its essentials through the whole period of modern missions. For instance, commissions of education in relation to the Christianization of national life presented to the World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh in 1910 say, ?Education may be conducted primarily with an evangelistic purpose, being viewed either as an attractive force to bring youth under the influence of Christianity or as itself an evangelizing agency.?
?Education may be primarily edificatory, leavening and philanthropic? the report says. Meanwhile, the resolution on missionary education, submitted to the South India Missionary Conference held at Ootacamund on April 23, 1858, says, ?That all the educational operations connected with our missions must be based upon the word of God, and made subsistent to the inculcation of its truths and principles and indeed must be strikingly marked by the earnest and fearless teaching of the great essentials of the Christian faith with a special view to the salvation of the souls of the pupils and not merely their intellectual and moral improvement.?
?That no Hindu books, taken in their integrity, are fit to be used in the mission schools?, the resolution opined. Therefore, in all these institutions religion was taught through the Christian scriptures and ideas of Christianity were presented to young Indian youth.
However, missionaries? attempt to convert young Indian youth through their education could not give any success because most of the students from missionary schools took part in the religious teachings not because it has any attractions in itself, nor merely as a matter of indifference, but (out of compulsion) because its perusal was the only condition by which admission to the school can be obtained. Therefore, the missionaries? object of conversion either among scholars or teachers had been almost nothing.