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India is Observing the National Education Day

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INDIA: Since 2008, November 11 is celebrated as National Education Day to commemorate the birth of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Azad served as the first education minister of Independent India from 15 August 1947 until 2 February 1958. All educational institutions in the country mark the day with different events that show the country’s commitment to its legacy.

Indian independence activist, Islamic theologian, writer, and senior leader of the Indian National Congress, Abul Kalam was also a freedom fighter, scholar, and academician. Best known for his ongoing contribution to literacy and research, he was a follower of the Gandhian philosophy and promoted interest in eastern learning and literature, technologies, science, and the fine arts. He also started the work on the compilation of technical terms in Hindi on a large scale.

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Azad has been regarded as one of the prominent national political figures of his time, as he led the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity and supported secularism and socialism.

Facts about India’s education today

  1. India has the second-largest school system in the world after China.
  2. India proposes free education for minors.
  3. Education is compulsory for children aged between 6 and 14.
  4. In India, the pen is mightier than the sword: the education system contributes directly towards growth.
  5. Despite limitations, many children in rural India dedicatedly walk long distances or travel far to attend school.
  6. 1 in 40 schools in India are in open spaces or based in tents.
  7. Dedicated education helps fight against child labor and early marriages.
  8. The states with the highest literacy rate as of 2021 are Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, and Goa (India Census).
  9. The states with the lowest literacy rate, and yet surpassing the 60% of the population are Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand (India Census).
  10. India promotes the setting up of new schools and colleges at district and state levels.
  11. Several committees have been formed to ensure the proper utilization of funds allotted to improve the literacy rate.
  12. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao is the latest initiative taken by the Government of India to save and educate girls.

Who was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

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Azad was born in 1888 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. His family relocated to Calcutta to provide him a better education, which later reflected in his work as a journalist and a poet. In 1912, Azad started publishing a weekly called Al-Hilal to criticize the British policies. After it was banned, he started another weekly Al-Bagah, following which the British government banned him under the Defence of India Regulations in 1916. He died in 1958.

Between other initiatives, Azad founded:

  1. University Grants Commission (UGC 1953)
  2. All India Council for Technical education
  3. Kharagpur Institute of higher education
  4. The University education commission
  5. The Secondary education commission
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Between other institutions, Azad helped establish:

  1. Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT, 1951)
  2. School of Architecture and Planning
  3. Sangeet Natak Akademi (1953)
  4. Sahitya Akademi (1954)
  5. Lalit Kala Akademi (1954)

Some not so well-known facts about Azad:

  • Azad was the leader of the Khilafat movement from 1919–1924, during which he met Mahatma Gandhi.
  • In 1920, Azad, along with two others, became one of the founding members of the Jamia Millia Islamia University.
  • He was a member of Congress and in 1923, he became the youngest president of the party at the age of 35.
  • As a journalist, Azad used to publish works that criticized the British Raj and highlighted the problems faced by common people.
  • Abul Kalam Azad was one of the leading organizers of the Dharasana Satyagraha, a protest against the British salt tax in the year 1930.

Books

Azad authored a few books, but India Wins Freedom is the most controversial one as it was at first published incomplete. The full version of the book was released only recently and is said to be a bombshell for the ruling party because it exposes the giants of the freedom struggle, including Jawaharlal Nehru, in an unfavorable light.” (the link contains extracts as well).

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