During the British rule in India, the downwards filtration theory was adopted in the country. Filtration means coming of something to the bottom from the top. Thus the filtration theory in education meant coming down of education or knowledge from the top to the bottom i.e. from the higher class people to the lower classes or the general people.

There were many reasons for adopting this policy. Different
views have been expressed about this policy some people think that this policy was adopted because of the narrow-mindedness and selfish attitudes of the English who intended to educate only a
few for getting clerks for running their administration and this group
in turn would influence the general public for accepting the British
rule in the country. In fact, according to some persons the main
reason for adopting this policy was the meagre financial resources
with the company for educational purposes. The company thought
that it could not provide education to entire mass. So it decided to
educate only a few. But this few were the people of higher classes
because they alone could catch up the opportunity for English
education.

Meaning of Downward Filtration Theory:

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Filtration theory means โ€•Education is to be filtered to the
common people. Drop by drop, the education should go to the common public so that at due time it make take the form of a vast stream which remained watering desert of the society for long times and high class of people should be educated and common people gain influence from them.

Causes of Filtration Theory :

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The following were the causes which led to make the Filtration Theory the Government policy.

1. Need Money for Mass Education. The Company Government needed various types of workers to run the
business of government. They wanted to have cheap servants
who may work in different capacities. This aim could be
fulfilled only by an educated higher class of people of India. So the government started the policy of education of higher class.

2. No Money for Mass Education. The Government did not have enough money to take responsibility of educating the masses.

3. British Belief.

British rulers concluded that if the standard of living and ideas of the people of higher classes in society could be changed through English education then the people of the lower classes will also be influenced and they shall be
loyal to the British Government.

4. Loyal Indians.

If some people from higher classes in society, educated on English lines, could be given higher posts in Government services, then naturally they will use their influence for controlling the masses from going against the government rule.

5. Further Expansion.

After educating some people, the responsibility of educating other people could be left to them.

Thus, Filtration theory fulfilled the aim of Lord Macaulay and the directors of the Company. It decided the education policy of India supported by the higher authorities. The higher education began to progress rapidly. The declaration of Lord Hardinge of 1844 gave preference to people educated in English schools for the Government service. So the main aim of education was securing Government job for which a large number of Indians started reading
in English schools. After getting Government service the educated
persons were cut off from the common people.

Thus, education created a false vanity among the educated persons. They became more self-centered. They started thinking themselves higher than an ordinary Indian. They maintained very little touch with common people. They became Anglicised to such an extent that even their daily routine and behaviour became Westernised. Sometimes it used to be worse than that of the European officers. The higher and rich class went on progressing and common people went on degenerating.Filtration Theoryโ€˜ continued to cast its shadow up to 1870 after which it faded from Indian soil.

Causes of Failure :

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Thus, Filtration Theory failed as a government policy in India due to following reasons :

1. Expansion of Mass Education.

The Government began to increase the number of English schools. It was, however, unable to provide jobs to all the educated Indians. Naturally many of them started new schools to get themselves employed. This began to create more job seekers.

2. Awakening.

As the number of schools increased a lot, this system only fulfilled the need of education of the common people. Educated on Western lines some people were of wide vision and without caring for Government services and self-
interest they started schools for educating general public.

Thus, an awakening took place. People became conscious of their real status. Later on-led by Mahatma Gandhi they played
leading roles in the National Movement and the British rulers
had to leave India.