By TwoCircles.net news desk,
New Delhi: The President of India Mrs. Pratibha Patil, has said that education is essential for preparing a population that is not only knowledgeable and skilled but is aware of its responsibilities and willing to contribute to the growth of the nation and as well as well being of society.
Paying rich tributes to the great freedom fighter, visionary and the First Education Minister of Independent India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad while inaugurating the First 'National Education Day' here at Vigyan Bhavan today, Patil said, "Education should be a process that imparts knowledge, develops the personality of the individual and opens up new opportunities." She called upon all stakeholders involved in the field of education to come together to seek ways to advance India's prestige in the world, as a knowledge society and to focus on how to educate our people.
Paying rich tributes to Maulana Azad, Arjun Singh, Minister of Human Resource Development, said, "The vision that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad set out for education is that of universal education of the basic pattern for all children of school-going age, followed by a diversified secondary education. He believed that an unsatisfactory system of Secondary education undermines the entire system of education in the country." Arjun Singh expressed the hope that the dedication of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's birth anniversary as India's National Education Day would inspire us to commit ourselves to his goal of achieving quality education for all as a birthright.
Union Ministry of Human Resource Development had decided to observe 11th November, the Birth Anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, as the 'National Education Day' as a befitting tribute to this great son of India. Educational institutions throughout India were involved in organizing seminars, symposia, workshops, rallies on importance of literacy and nation's commitment to all aspects of education on 'National Education Day'. The function was presided by Arjun Singh, Minister of Human Resource Development. A. Raja, Minister of Communications & IT was the Guest of Honour. A special cover on Maulana Azad was released on the occasion by the President. A set of books on Maulana Azad, published by National Book Trust of India, were also released on this occasion. The National Book Trust also organized a photographic exhibition on Maulana Azad on this occasion at Vigyan Bhavan.
The function was also attended by Vice Chancellors of state and central Universities, heads of central educational institutes, eminent educationists and school children. Similar functions were also organized in many states.
Following is the text of the President's speech:
"It is a great privilege and honour for me to participate in the First National Education Day celebrations.
Today is the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a great visionary, freedom fighter, scholar, secularist and eminent educationist. As India's first Education Minister, he was convinced that education is a tool of social transformation. He had a clear vision that all individuals should have a right to education that would develop their faculties and enable them to live an enriched life. His well-rounded view of education prompted him to set up apex education bodies like the All India Council of Technical Education and the University Grants Commission. It is befitting that this day, a day on which this great son of India was born, should be celebrated this year onwards as the National Education Day. I congratulate the Ministry of Human Resource Development for taking this initiative.
The objective of celebrating National Education Day should be to strengthen our educational institutions and to raise the quality of education to greater heights. It should be an occasion to remember Maulana Azad's contribution in laying the foundations of the education system in an independent India as well as to evaluate our current performance in this field. Henceforth, on this day, all stakeholders involved in the field of education should come together to seek ways to advance India's prestige in the world, as a knowledge society and to focus on how to educate our people.
When we look at the legacy of Maulana Azad, we need to look at his contribution to education and to other diverse spheres of life. He was born in a family of noted Islamic scholars and though he did not receive formal education in a regular school, Maulana Azad was a scholar of several languages, including Urdu, Persian, Arabic and Hindi as well as of mathematics, philosophy, world history and science. He rose to prominence as a journalist who extensively published works advocating the cause of Indian nationalism. In the Urdu weekly newspaper Al-Hilal, which he started in 1912, he espoused the cause of freedom as well as Hindu-Muslim unity.
With his involvement in the Khilafat Movement, he came into close contact with Mahatma Gandhi. It is important to recall that Maulana Azad always took an uncompromising position against communalism and supported an India that was secular. He was firmly committed to the ideas of equity and equality, endearing him to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who fondly called him "Mir-i-Karawan" - a leader of the mission.
Maulana Azad recognized the link between education, expanding mental horizons and national development. He was clear in his mind that in the advancement of nations there is no greater hindrance than narrow mindedness. He emphasized that independent India would need people with a broad outlook since it is a nation with a vast comprehensive culture, where it is often said - there is no school of philosophical thought that is not found here. It is these liberal thoughts that have created the conducive conditions for this vast array of thinking to flourish. This has enriched the country. It has given us our identity. It has given us a cultural heritage, which is looked upon with admiration the world over. We have to ensure that our institutions of learning reflect the true values of our heritage and civilization.
Teaching has been a fundamental tool for the entire human race for passing on knowledge and experiences to the next generation. Its importance has been recognized by all cultures at all times, which has given teaching a special place of honour. In our country, the teacher is addressed as Guruji, which shows the level of respect for them. Our education system must focus on the upgradation of teaching methodologies of teachers as well as their training and sensitization to social issues, including to gender-equality.
Education is essential for preparing a population that is not only knowledgeable and skilled but is aware of its responsibilities and willing to contribute to the growth of the nation and as well as well being of society. Education should be a process that imparts knowledge, develops the personality of the individual and opens up new opportunities. This can be possible only when education makes one aware of the many colours of life and its realities, and the interdependence between people and between the environment and humankind.
Education and awareness would be necessary if peace is to be ushered into society, in the country and on the globe, and if future generations are to be empowered with spreading and maintaining prosperity and development. The creation of future generations, which are capable of facing the challenges of the future, is indeed, an investment.
In today's age that is dominated by knowledge and high technology, the real challenge before our educational system is to create a human resource that can take advantage of new opportunities and face new challenges. Our education system should have the dynamism to be able constantly to adjust to the rapid changes.
It is equally important that education has to be all encompassing and efforts must be made to reach its benefits to the weakest sections of society. I reiterate my view that it is important that every citizen of our country, whether man or woman, boy or girl, must have the opportunity of receiving education.
With the flagship programme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, we have taken an important step forward in providing education to all children in the age group of 6 to 14. The success in the implementation of this programme would also require that due attention be given to the quality of education along with the emphasis on building a national character which has been defined through the ages as one of tolerance and of respect for the vast diversity that exists in our country.
In addition, the National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level, the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme for all children in elementary education are widely recognized as steps towards universalization of school education. The nation can be proud that the Global Monitoring Report 2008 of UNESCO has projected India as one of the 28 countries, which have a high chance of achieving universal primary education enrollment by 2015, under the Millennium Development Goals. We must work sincerely for achieving this goal.
I am happy to have released a Special Cover of the Department of Posts, along with a set of books on Maulana Azad, published by the National Book Trust on this occasion. I am sure that the Special Cover and the books will help carry forward the message of Maulana Azad and be a source of inspiration for young minds in the country.
In conclusion, I once again congratulate the Ministry of Human Resource Development for initiating a tradition of tribute to Maulana Azad, as National Education Day, on his birth anniversary."
Human Resource Development Minister's speech is also being reproduced below:
"It is a privilege for me to be here today, to play a part in such a historic ceremony. Today, the 11th of November is being dedicated to the nation as the National Education Day. What marks the day as special is not merely because it is the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a great leader and India's first Minister of Education, but also because we are rededicating ourselves to what Maulana Abul Kalam Azad stood for and struggled to achieve.
This is for the first time that the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad is being observed as the 'National Education Day' and I am really grateful to all of you, particularly Her Excellency, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the President of India for being kind enough to accept my request to grace this occasion as the Chief Guest in spite of her multifarious prior engagements. Your Excellency's presence here, has given us the strength and confidence to move forward on the path shown by our great leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. I would also like to inform this distinguished gathering that this "National Education Day" is being celebrated all over the country. I am also happy to note that the Board of Management of National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) in their meeting held on 8th October, 2008 had created a Chair in the name of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
While we celebrate the birth anniversary of Maulana Azad as the "National Education Day", some of us may not be aware that Maulana Azad never attended a formal educational institution. He was schooled at home, and was thereafter self-taught; yet he was known for his scholarship, vision and humanism. He wanted a common system of education, based on equality, and without distinction of race religion, caste, class or occupation.
A great lover of books, Maulana Azad realised the value of suitable books for children and neo literate adults. I am glad to inform this distinguished gathering that National Book Trust of India has prepared a set of books "Nehru & Azad on 1857" in Hindi and English as also a book "Nadir-e-Tahrir" in Urdu which will be released at this function. The National Book Trust is also organizing a photo exhibition titled 'Maulana Abul Kalam Azad – Architect of Modern Education in India' which will be inaugurated by Her Excellency, the President of India. I am sure these books and the photographic exhibition will ignite the young minds and inspire them to follow the ideals of our great leaders.
To reflect on Maulana Azad's contribution to education in independent India, we have to survey the post-independence educational scenario in India when he became its first Education Minister. After 1947 it was felt that there was a need for careful prioritization in planning, so that "our limited resources are not frittered away in doing too many things simultaneously". His vision for the reconstruction of education in independent India was centered around the creation of a common identity and purpose. The vision that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad set out for education is that of universal education of the basic pattern for all children of school-going age, followed by a diversified secondary education.He believed that an unsatisfactory system of Secondary education undermines the entire system of education in the country. In the Central Advisory Board of Education in 1955, he said, "You will remember that at the last meeting of the Board, I placed before you my ideas on Secondary education.
This is the stage up to which all should have the opportunity to go. In any case, it is the stage, which marks, and will continue to mark the end of education for the vast majority. It should, therefore, prepare them for life".
While Maulana Azad envisioned a modern India built through strengthening higher and technical education, he also held the belief that along with training engineers and technicians for the development of the industries, it is equally necessary "to spread general education for raising the general level of economic activities in the country."
Maulana Azad advocated religious teaching in schools, not from a narrow, factional sense of religiosity, but from a liberal and open perspective. His definition of "secular" was different even from the mainstream opinion of the period, for he believed and worked for multi-culturalism and interfaith understanding. A strong advocate of the need to transcend narrow provincialism, he declared, "We want to build in India a national outlook which will transcend the limitations of province, State, religion, caste or language." He believed that the solution to the problems created by religious fanatics lay not in rejecting religious instruction in elementary stages but in imparting sound and healthy religious education so that children in their formative stages would not be misguided to fanaticism and intolerance of other religions. Maulana Azad was perhaps the only one of our leaders who was jailed during both World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-45) for campaigning for Swaraj. As Education Minister, he chaired 9 of the 12 meetings of the CABE held during his period as education minister. Throughout his life, he lived a frugal life, and apart from books and papers; there were hardly any other effects that the Maulana possessed at the time of his demise.
Before I conclude, I once again express my heartfelt thanks to Her Excellency, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the President of India for being kind to inaugurate this function as the Chief Guest. I also express my sincere gratitude to my colleagues A Raja, Hon'ble Minister for Communications and Information Technology and Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, Hon'ble Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology for getting a Special Cover issued on this occasion by the Department of Posts.
I hope that the dedication of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's birth anniversary as India's National Education Day would inspire us to commit ourselves to his goal of achieving quality education for all as a birthright."