The Navy's Education Branch

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Developments Until 1965

The Boy Entry constituted the main intake into the sailor cadre of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN). Since their educational standard was well short of what the Navy required, boys were imparted educational training after joining the Navy. Educational attainment was also a mandatory prerequisite for sailors to be promoted. Educational training was therefore provided, for sailors to avail of on a voluntary basis, to help them to qualify educationally for promotion. Two educational tests were prescribed. Educational Test One (ET1) was for boys of all branches. The Higher Educational Test (HET) was for sailors who aspired to be commissioned as as an officer. The Education Branch was made responsible for organising and imparting all this educational training.

The Branch started in 1928 and, in its early days, was called the Schoolmaster Cadre. By 1935, this cadre consisted of nine Chief Petty Officer (CPO)/Petty Officer (PO) Schoolmasters, all of whom had a college degree; they were positioned at the Seamen, Stoker and Signals Boys Training Establishments at Karachi and Bombay. In 1938, Headmaster Lieutenant Smith was appointed to head the Schoolmaster Cadre and raise the standard of education in the Navy.

After the Second World War started in 1939, there was a large increase in sailor intake. It was realised that the expansion of the Navy in an environment of changing technology would require greater attention to raising educational standards. By 1941, the Schoolmaster Cadre had increased to one officer, ten Warrant Schoolmasters and fourteen CPO/PO Schoolmasters. Headmaster Lt Cdr Smith had by then revised the HET and ET1 syllabi and recast the general educational syllabi for all naval ships and establishments.

To attract better talent, it became necessary to raise the status and the pay of the cadre. In 1943, Schoolmaster pay scales were raised and a degree in Mathematics or Physics was made an essential qualification for entry into the Schoolmaster Cadre. In Naval Headquarters, a composite Directorate of Training and Education was constituted to plan and coordinate all training and educational activities.

In 1944, Headmaster Commander Smith was appointed to Naval Headquarters in the Directorate of Training and Education as the Deputy Director Education. In the same year, an Instructor Branch was created to broaden the base of educational training and training methodology. The intake into the ranks of Instructor Lieutenant Commander (RINVR)/Instructor Lieutenant (RINVR) was from candidates between thirty and forty years of age, who had an Honours degree in Mathematics/Physics or Mechanical/Electrical Engineering and who had experience of imparting training in a recognised university. This new Instructor Branch was added on to the existing Schoolmaster Cadre.

The strength of the combined Instructor Branch - Schoolmaster Cadre increased to one Headmaster Cdr as Deputy Director of Education, one Headmaster Lt (SP) as Assistant Deputy Director at NHQ, one Headmaster Lt at HMIS BAHADUR in Karachi, four Headmaster Lieutenants (RINVR), forty Commissioned Warrant Schoolmasters and one hundred and eighty CPO Schoolmasters. By then, schoolmasters were borne in all training and base establishments, recruiting centres and in ten sea-going appointments.

In 1948, the Schoolmaster Branch/Cadre was first merged into a new Education Branch and a little later, the Education Branch was renamed as the Instructor Branch. The intake into the Instructor Branch was at two levels. Direct Entry Instructor Sub Lieutenants were required to have an Honours degree in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry. Warrant Instructor Officers were required to be graduates in these subjects.

Also in 1948, at Naval Headquarters, the Directorate of Naval Training and Education split into two directorates - Directorate of Weapon Training and Directorate of Naval Education. The last of the British naval Instructor Officers on deputation left in 1950. With the formation of the Naval Air Arms's Fleet Requirement Unit in 1951, Education Officers were made responsible for providing meteorological services.

In 1955, the Instructor Branch was reorganised:

(a) All entries into the Branch were made either in the rank of Commissioned Instructor Officers (CIOs) or as civilians. An Engineering degree was included as an entry qualification. The promotion ladder was CIO - Senior CIO - Instructor Lieutenant and upwards.

(b) Civilian Education Instructors (CEI's) were posted mainly in the basic training establishments for boy entry sailors.

Many of the direct entry, honours degree Instructor Officers who were inducted from 1955 onwards underwent specialisation courses in the British Navy, in Radar, Radio, Thermodynamics, Advanced Meteorology, Gunnery, Torpedo and Anti Submarine Warfare, Navigation and Direction, Communications and Electronic Warfare. In later years, some of them achieved eminence in the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

The CIO Branch List entry scheme was not well received by the Instructor Branch. In 1963, the Branch List entry was abolished and a limited number of Civilian Education Instructors (CEIs) were inducted. Entry was restarted in the rank of Sub Lieutenant and seniorities of all serving Branch List Instructor Officers were readjusted.

Over time, the responsibilities of the Branch were enlarged to include the conduct of sailors' recruitment tests in shore establishments, organising activities to enhance general knowledge and organising welfare activities at Unit and Command level.

Developments Between 1965 and 1975

In 1968, in Naval Headquarters, the Directorate of Naval Education was redesignated as Directorate of Naval Education and Meteorology.

In 1971, the Instructor Branch was redesignated as the Education Branch.

In 1974, as part of the comprehensive Reorganisation of Naval Training carried out by Naval Headquarters, the major changes implemented were:

(a) To cope with the increasing level of technology of weapons, sensors and equipment entering service, the minimum educational qualification of Education Officers on entry was raised to a Masters degree in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or English with Physics up to graduate level and degree in Electrical/Mechanical Engineering.

(b) To ensure better understanding and for more effective utilisation, the initial training of Education Officers was increased from 16 to 36 weeks to include Naval Orientation, Navigation and Naval Scientific Orientation courses.

(c) Oceanographic Forecasting was included in the responsibilities of the Education Branch.

Deputation of Education Officers To Enhance Promotion Prospects

The restricted nature of duties constrained the promotion prospects of Education Branch officers. This constraint was overcome to some extent by deputing them to, and facilitating their secondment to, organisations like Defence Laboratories under DRDO, Sainik Schools, Army Recruitment Organisation, Electronic Data Processing, etc.

Two Education officers attained Flag rank:

  • Rear Admiral KN Ramanarasiah became Director of the Naval Science and Technology Laboratory in Visakhapatnam where he did pioneering work on the development of torpedoes.
  • Rear Admiral SR Mohan became the Project Officer for the development of the Navy's indigenous Surface to Air Missile TRISHUL, which was a segment of DRDO's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

Education Officers also made significant contributions to the development of the academic faculties of the Ethiopian Navy's Naval Academy and Nigeria's Inter Services Academy.


Developments Until 1965

In 1944:

(a) An Examination Office was established in Bombay to conduct HET and ET1 tests and assess sailors' educational attainments before promotion.

(b) Lectures on training techniques were arranged for CPO and PO Schoolmasters.

(c) Reference libraries and unit libraries were set up in ships and establishments and provided with publications, both local and from Britain.

(d) The Inter-Universities Board (India) recommended to all the universities in India that the Navy's HET examination be recognised as equivalent to Matriculation.

(e) The Inter-Universities Board (India) accepted Naval Headquarters suggestion that Navigation and Meteorology be introduced as a degree subject in Indian Universities.

In 1954, Naval Headquarters introduced the Educational Test One (Modified), ie ET1(M), for Cook and Steward sailors whose educational standards on entry were lower than those of other sailors.

To help improve their level of scientific and technical knowledge and increase their comprehension of professional training, officers and sailors were imparted training in Electronics, Mathematics, Thermodynamics etc. By 1965, the Instructor Branch was responsible for all scientific and mathematical instruction, including instruction in the theoretical aspects of technical subjects.

Developments Between 1965 and 1975

In 1966, Education Officers were given the responsibility of imparting Russian language training to the personnel being deputed for the Russian acquisitions. Education Officers started being deputed to the School of Foreign Languages in Delhi.

Training Establishments

In the basic training establishments, the Education Department prepared instructional handouts in simple English to help sailors whose knowledge of English was inadequate.

When preparing for the ET 1 and ET 1(M) tests, sailors had to depend on standard text books on Mathematics and English. These text books could not provide standardised subject material to sailors serving in the various naval establishments all over India. The problem was overcome in 1974 by preparing one standard publication each for Mathematics, English language and General Knowledge for the ET 1 test.

Examination Office

Over the years, the Examination Office's responsibility expanded to cover the following additional tests:

  Annual Frequency
(a) Recruitment Tests  
(i) Direct Entry (Matriculate Entry MER) and
Artificer Apprentices
(ii) Direct Entry (Non-Matriculate Entry NMER) Twice
(iii) Direct Entry (MER/NMER) Sports Entry Twice
(b) Educational Tests  
(i) HET/ET1/ET1 (M) Twice
(ii) Navy Entry Artificer Scheme Twice
(iii) Commission Worthy (CW) Scheme for sailors Once Twice
(iv) In-service Hindi Examinations (Uchh, Madhyamik and Prarambhik Pariksha) -
(v) Higher Rank (Technical) Twice
(c) Command/Professional Management and Staff
College Entrance (C/PM & SCE) Examinations for officers

Naval Institute of Educational and Training Technology (NIETT)

Education officers used to be trained in "training technology" during their initial training. Later, it was considered necessary that all instructors in training establishments should be acquainted with "training methods". Discussions were held with the Technical Teachers Training Institute at Madras. In 1971, a Naval Institute of Education was set up at Cochin. In 1974, the scope of the Institute was expanded to include "Training Technology" and it was renamed as the Naval Institute of Educational and Training Technology (NIETT). The Institute conducted in-service training for officers and sailors in Teaching Methods and Training Technology.

Reference Libraries and Maintenance Grants

    The need for books for self-study whilst preparing for ET1 and HET, and for magazines for enhancing general awareness used to be met by libraries in shore establishments and ships. Due to limited funds, however, they could not be adequately equipped. In 1965, the Government sanctioned Rs 50,000 together with a recurring grant of Rs 10,000 for the next three years for setting up Reference Libraries in the training establishments. In due course, the following reference libraries were established:-

(a) The Central Reference Library in Bombay.

(b) Command Reference Libraries in Visakhapatnam and Cochin.

(c) Reference Library in Goa.

(d) Reference Libraries in major training establishments at AGRANI, CIRCARS, HAMLA, SHIVAJI and VALSURA.

The Central Reference Library at Bomay was established to

  • maintain reference libraries in ships and non-training establishments by issuing books on temporary loan and
  • to issue on permanent loan books of general interest to ships and establishments, to meet the needs of officers and sailors in Bombay.

Similarly, the Command Reference Libraries at Vishakhapatnam and Cochin and the Reference Library in Goa met the requirements of training establishments in their respective stations who were not in receipt of reference library grants.


In 1982, "Meteorology" was made the responsibility of a separate Directorate of Naval Oceanology & Meteorology (DNOM).

In 1988, the qualifications for entry into the Education Branch were further broadened to include a post graduate degree in Computers/graduate degree in Computer Engineering.

In 1988, NIETT was augmented with a Centre for Training Aids Production to produce quality training aids for the Navy. Since then, the Institute has grown into the Navy's pioneer organisation for conducting courses on Training Management and providing guidance in the fabrication and effective utilisation of training aids. It conducts Instructional Technique Courses for junior officer instructors and Training Management Courses for middle level officers. It also conducts professional specialist courses for education officers, sailor-instructors and photo sailors. The Institute has earned the ISO 9001 certification for quality training. It also acts as the apex body for standardisation of syllabi, lesson planning and all aspects of Training Design and Evaluation.

In 1990, the Examinations Office shifted from Bombay to Delhi, under the Directorate of Naval Education. In 1991, it was decided that women officers could join the Navy in the Education Branch and the Logistic and Law cadres. The first batch of nine women Education officers joined the Branch in July 1992 on a seven-year short service commission, extendable to ten years.

In addition to the three Command Reference Libraries, there are today thirty eight Naval/Met Reference Libraries in the Navy, apart from unit run libraries.

Future of the Education Branch

With the general rise in the educational standard of officer and sailor intake, the basic function of the Education Branch became diluted. The requirement of the Navy became to train its personnel rather than to educate them. Additional responsibilities like EDP, recruitment, appointments in NCC and resettlement, which could have been done by officers of any other branch, got added on, so that the Education Branch could have enough to do. This did not contribute either towards aspiration for qualification of a level higher than what Education officers possessed at the time of their commissioning or towards job satisfaction vis-a-vis the qualifications they possessed.

Since Education Officers possess high academic qualifications in Science and Engineering, numerous proposals have been considered to optimally utilise their services. The current thinking is to continue with the Branch and induct only Short Service Commission Education Officers to meet the Navy's needs.