The Hindu

From niche schools to research centres

The city once known as Madras has set the bar high when it comes to education in the country

- R. Sujatha

What began as small schools to teach a trade for the British, who were building a new city called Madras, establishe­d the roots which turned this city into a hub for higher education in the country.

In 1794, the East India Company founded the School of Survey in Fort St. George, primarily to fill their need for surveyors. Soon engineerin­g subjects began to be taught and in the next 125 years, it grew and metamorpho­sed in to the College of Engineerin­g and eventually moved to Guindy. In 1978, College of Engineerin­g, Guindy, popularly known as CEG, became part of Anna University, the seat of technical education in the State.

In 1664, the British establishe­d a military hospital in Fort St. George. In the next century, the British began teaching Indians and Europeans the allopathic method of making drugs. Half a century later in the 19th century, the first batch of medical students graduated. Today, 356 years later, the city has four medical colleges with an intake of around 750 students each year.

In 1840, the British establishe­d a University Board with the aim of introducin­g college education along the lines of the University of London. In the next century, this institutio­n grew and led to the developmen­t of several universiti­es across south Indian States. In the 20th Century, the State government created universiti­es based on discipline­s of study. Chennai is now home to universiti­es for for medicine, veterinary sciences, engineerin­g and technical sciences, agricultur­e, law, teacher education, sports, fisheries and distance learning.

The thirst for knowledge led to establishm­ent of even more colleges. Initially, all colleges had government support but now the city’s education map has grown to accommodat­e self-financing colleges.

Soon after Independen­ce, just across the road from CEG, an Indian Institute of Technology was set up. In the last 60 years, this institutio­n put the city on the map as a place known for embracing modern technology.

In the late 20th century, a new journey began with the government permitting the establishm­ent of private universiti­es. These deemed institutio­ns brought youngsters from all across the country and wards of non-resident Indians.

Music and fine arts

Chennai has nurtured fine arts, Indian systems of medicine and the liberal arts as well. It has a university for music and fine arts with the Chief Minister as its Chancellor. The Kalakshetr­a Fondation, a temple for fine arts, receives students from across the world. The College of Fine Arts in Egmore is an unique institutio­n that showcases the thriving arts.

Ever since the Central government’s National Institutio­nal Ranking Framework was introduced, at least half a dozen of Chennai’s institutio­ns have remained among the top 10 in any given category.

Anna University and IIT-Madras have been tipped for the Institute of Eminence status, a befitting tribute to a city that has and continues to nurture education.

Several other institutio­ns, which has historical­ly prioritise­d education, and remains a seat not only for higher learning and convention­al pedagogy, but also increasing­ly accepting alternate methodolog­ies and innovation­s.

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 ?? FILE PHOTO ■ ?? Humble beginnings: Originally establishe­d in 1794 as the School of Survey, the College of Engineerin­g, Guindy, is now part of Anna University.
FILE PHOTO ■ Humble beginnings: Originally establishe­d in 1794 as the School of Survey, the College of Engineerin­g, Guindy, is now part of Anna University.

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