This chapter briefly reviews colonial policy, describes the broad patterns on enrolment and literacy, and discusses how policy interacted with local conditions to influence the trajectory of Indian education. Although primary school enrolment was low in British India, secondary school enrolment was comparable to developed countries. The first Quinquennial Report on the Progress of Education in India was released in 1886-1887 and subsequent Quinquennial Reports were published up until 1947. This chapter illustrates the low rates of primary school enrolment and literacy. To assess returns without individual data, people begin with wages of postmen and primary school teachers as post-literacy wages. The presence of numerous castes and religions combined with the hierarchal divisions in Indian society seriously undermined private and public attempts to expand basic education. Despite the small gains in enrolment, literacy was stagnant for most of the period. Simple calculations illustrate that returns to literacy were perhaps not as low as qualitative accounts argue.