National Education Day , 2013

Abdus Salam *

National Education Day observed at Babupara, Imphal on 11 Nov 2013
National Education Day observed at Babupara, Imphal on 11 Nov 2013 :: Pix - AMPWA

The 11th November 2013 is celebrated as National Education Day to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a great visionary, freedom fighter, a staunch nationalist, renowned scholar, secularist, eminent educationist.

On this occasion, it would be appropriate to remember this visionary great leader and recall his contribution to education and its role in the making of a vibrant and modern India.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born on 11th November 1888. His real name was Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin. He was popularly known as Maulana Azad. He adopted the pen name 'Azad' as a mark of his mental emancipation from a narrow view of religion and life. Maulana Azad became independent India's first Education Minister and served from 1947 till his death on 22/2/1958. In recognition of his invaluable contribution to the nation, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was posthumously awarded India's highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna in 1992 .

As India's first Education Minister, he was convinced that education is the tool of social transformation. He realised that the country could achieve a higher level of progress and advancement only by making the education system more practical, pragmatic and responsive to the immediate demands of society and industry. Realising the need and importance of education, he set up a number of Educational Commissions , Boards and Institutions such as the University Grants Commission and the Indian Institutes of Technology, Kharagpur, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Institute of Social Science, New Delhi, Indian institute of Cultural relations, Council of Scientific and Industrial research(CSIR) to name a few.

Maulana Azad was also fully conscious about the composite cultures of India. Therefore, to bridge the socio-religious and cultural gaps and to enrich Indian culture and heritage, he set up a number of institutions of national importance such as Lalit Kala Akademi, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Sahitya Akademi.

According to Moulana Azad the wealth of a nation was not in the number of country's banks but in the number of primary schools. He was aware that the content of education in independent India had to be different from that of colonial British India.

Maulana Azad believed that national education system should have four main objectives/goals:

(i) universal, free and compulsory basic education,
(ii) eradication of illiteracy among adult population;
(iii) improvement and expansion of technical education;
(iv) improvement of university education at a national level.

Maulana Azad had firm faith in the fact that every individual should have the right to education that would enable him to develop his faculties and live a full human life and such education, he said, was the birthright of every citizen. The enactment of the landmark legislation "The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009"( enforced w.e.f 1/4/2010) is a culmination of Maulana's dream of providing basic education to children from 6 years to 14 years on compulsory basis- a dream translated into reality after over six decades.

Under the intervention of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Universalisation of Elementary Education Mission) the quality of education is getting more attention with more emphasis on capacity building of teacher , their training, promoting effective pedagogy, and improving district and block level capacity for better management of the school education system. After the successful implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan the secondary school system needs to be strengthened. Accordingly, the Rashtriya Madhyamic Shiksha Abhiyan ( Secondary Education Mission) was launched in 2009-2010 to raise enrolment in secondary education, focus on Science, Mathematics and English teaching, improve retention and reduce the gender, social and regional gaps in enrolment in secondary schools level.

Again with the successful implementation of RMSA ,the number of students going for higher and technical courses increase manifold thereby necessitating stregthening of higher and technical education. With this aim in view, the MHRD has now launched the Rastriya Uchattar Shiksha Abhiyan (Higher Education Mission)to provide necessary infrastructures of colleges and universities and capacity building of faculties etc.

To provide the basic literacy to illiterate adult people, the new version of Adult Literacy programme called The Saakshar Bharat Mission(Literate India) was launched on International Literacy Day , 8thSeptember , in 2009 giving due focus to female literacy as well as synergy between literacy, continuing education, lifelong learning and skill development.

In order to equip and motivate the youth for jobs a National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF) has been formulated by the MHRD to provide for horizontal and vertical mobility between the vocational education and formal and non-formal general education.

On the occasion of National Education Day let all of us ensure that all schools in the State are compliant with the provisions of the RTE Act and all children get access to elementary education in the State and strive to follow the path shown by the great leader and educationist , Moulana Abul Kalam Azad in creating large number of enlightened citizens who respect humanism and instinctively rise above narrow feelings of hatred, communalism, racism, divisiveness; and contribute gainfully to a better, united and vibrant Manipur.

* Abdus Salam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The author is a Senior MCS Officer working as Member Secretary, State Literacy Mission Authority, Manipur
This article was webcasted on November 18, 2013.

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