Great Tamil Savant Thiruvalluvar in his incomparable work "Thirukkural" has observed as follows which is as relevant today as it was in the past.
எண்ணென்ப ஏனை எழுத்தென்ப இவ்விரண்டும்
கண்ணென்ப வாழும் உயிர்க்கு..
Education has been an integral part of Tamil society since time immemorial. The rich Sangam literature of the 2nd Century is a testimony to the same. The state’s system of indigenous education is held in high regard and documented by multiple historians for its curriculum and pedagogic strategies including but not limited to peer learning, use of memory as a modality of learning, problem solving through creation of riddles. The Survey of Indigenous Education in the Madras Presidency 1822-26, is one such documentation of Tamil Nadu’s indegenous system of education.
Till 1813, the East India Company did not recognize the promotion of education among the natives of India. The Governor of Madras Province, Sir Thomas Munro, formalized and institutionalized the system of education by establishing the Board of Public Instruction in 1826. The first set of grants for aided schools was issued in 1855, and by 1881, a considerable portion of indigenous institutions became aided. The rules and regulations designed by the Province to provide financial aid significantly altered the nature of curriculum, pedagogy, teaching learning material, and role of teachers that were unique to the indegenous schools and the larger community.
Under the Local Boards Act 1871, Local Boards were constituted and empowered to open schools and get subsidies from the government. The Madras Elementary Education Act, 1920 enabled the local bodies to levy an educational cess on land or property tax for advancement of elementary education