The Modern age of Educational History in Assam began with the annexation of Assam with the British Empire in accordance with the treaty of "Yandabu" in 1826. According to the report of late W. Robinson, who was appointed the first Inspector of Schools in 1840 for the Brahmaputra valley a deplorable condition of the indigenous educational institutions prevailed in 1841 and through the efforts of government and other agencies new initiatives were taken to open new schools. By 1875, the number of educational institutions for General Education rose to 1,293 with an enrolment of 31,462.
It is after the Independence in 1947, that a rapid expansion took place in the field of education. In the post Independence period the major concern of Government of India and of the states was to give increasing attention to education as a factor, vital to national progress and security. Problem of educational reforms and reconstruction were reviewed by various commissions and committees. In the later part of the last century Policy on Education (1986) has been adopted at the national level.
In Assam, government has been quite alive to the requirement, improvement and expansion of education in the state. The state government has followed policies and decisions taken at the national level for implementation in the state. As such it follows the mandate of National Policy on Education (1986) and Programme of Action (1986, revised in 1992) in terms of intervention in Higher Education. The University Grants Commission and National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) plays a major role in the quality aspect of it.
The post of Director of Public Instruction (DPI) had been created way back in 1874. Officiating from Shillong, the then capital of undivided Assam, DPI's office catered to all aspects of education viz. Elementary, Secondary, Higher, Adult, Technical etc. of the entire state that included the present day Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. It remained in Shillong, even after all these states shot off for their independent existence as states, till 1973 when the capital of Assam finally shifted to Guwahati.
The present post of Director of Higher Education (DHE) was created in 1989 when a number of Directorates branched off in the seventies and eighties of the last century, such as Directorate of Technical Education, Directorate of Elementary Education, Directorate of Adult Education, Directorate of Secondary Education, Directorate of SCERT etc. The scope of work, accordingly, got sliced out of the total sum, and Directorate was left with the education of colleges and universities. The Sanskrit Board that had shifted from Sylhet to Guwahati after independence also joined the Directorate as a separate entity. The State Selection Board was added to it for upgrading the quality in teacher selection process.