“We must not for a moment forget, it is a birthright of every individual to receive at least the basic education without which he cannot fully discharge his duties as a citizen.”
— Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
On 11 September 2008, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) decided to observe November 11 as National Education Day annually. It commemorates the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first education minister of independent India, who served from 15 August 1947 until 2 February 1958. On National Education Day, educational institutions conduct seminars, symposia, essay-writing, elocution competitions, workshops, rallies, poster campaigns, etc., to create awareness about the importance of education.
A freedom fighter, scholar and educationist, Maulana Azad was one of the key architects of independent India. He was responsible for setting up top education bodies like the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The first Indian Institute of Technology, IIT Kharagpur, was established by him. He also set up the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to promote education and culture in the country.
Maulana Azad was responsible for improving the literacy rate of India by making the education system strong post-independence when the entire nation was suffering from widespread illiteracy. He put emphasis on higher education and vocational training for all the citizens of the country. He asserted: “Educationists must build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity and entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.”
Joe Eruppakkatt, a former editor for ST PAULS Publications and The Teenager Today, has been actively involved in the field of print media in India, the U.S., Great Britain and Nigeria. He is currently working for ST PAULS, New Delhi.