Extract from "200 Years of the SPG 1701-1900" by CF Pascoe 1901, about the Missions in 'Tinnevelly', describing them as the springboard for the Tamil revival as it was gathering momentum, and the vital role played in this by education, and female education in particular:
"Education has been the great lever in raising the tone and position of the whole class amongst whom chiefly Christianity prevails. Many are graduates in Arts, Law, and Science .... Numbers of immigrants from Tinnevelly occupy honourable positions in various parts of India and in South Africa, Ceylon [Sri Lanka], and the Straits Settlements [Malaysia]. Within the last twenty years the education of Tinnevelly has been 'revolutionized', and, while Tinnevelly is "at the head of the whole of India in regard to secular education", nearly all the education of the Province is in the hands of the missionaries. The services of quite a small army of professors and teachers are engaged in its Christian Colleges and schools, and it is a notable fact that all these are indigenous teachers, and whilst the requirements of many distant places are supplied by the agency of Tinnevelly men, yet scarcely one foreign native agent is employed in the district."
"The educational system provides for the instruction of both girls and boys in various branches, by means of primary, lower secondary, normal, art, industrial schools and of orphanages ... The trades and industries taught includes carpentry ... and (to the girls) lace-making*, Indian embroidery, and needlework.... Female education is acknowledged by all to be the greatest lever which can be used for the regeneration if Indian society, and to a great extent the hope of the salvation of the country depends upon its future wives and mothers. Although females are despised and considered of little worth, yet they rule the household no less in India than in Europe."
* A good worker at lace-making can earn 5 shillings a month - that is as much again as the wages of an ordinary labourer in Tinnevelly.
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