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Why do we celebrate National Education Day?

Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad

National Educational Day is commemorated on the birth anniversary of the first education minister of India- Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. On his birthday (11th November), his contribution to the field of education is celebrated. He held the position of education minister of India from 1947 to 1958. On 11th September, 2008, the Ministry of Human Resource Development announced 11th November as National Education Day. 

His early life and career

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born on 11th November 1888 in Mecca, which was then a part of the Ottoman Empire. His father lived in Delhi with his maternal grandfather and settled in Mecca after the revolt of 1857. Azad's father was a renowned Islamic scholar who had thousands of disciples. His mother was also a great scholar, whose reputation had crossed Arabia.

Azad was home-schooled by his father, and Arabic was the first language in which he became fluent. After that, he learned several languages, including Persian, Hindustani, English and Bengali. He was trained in different schools of Islam, such as Hanafi, Maliki and Shafil, along with mathematics and political science from the tutors that his family hired. He was twelve when he started teaching students who were twice his age. At the age of eleven he published a poetic journal, Nairang-e-Aalaam. He worked with various theological journals and Urdu newspapers before he became the education minister.

Role in freedom struggle

Azad, on his trip to Egypt, Syria, Turkey and France, met with several revolutionaries, which made him develop ideas that were radical to most Muslim men and women. He opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905 and was actively involved in revolutionary activities. He openly criticized British policies and encouraged youngers to fight for independence and focus on Hindu-Muslim unity. Azad came in support of the Khilafat movement, which was also supported by the Indian National Congress under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1923, he was elected as the president of Congress and was the youngest person to become one. Azad strongly supported Gandhi’s vision and promoted it throughout India during his travels. He opposed Jinah's two-nation theory and condemned the Muslim League.

Contribution of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

During his tenure, institutes such as the University Grant Commission (UGC), All Indian Council for Technical Education, Jamia Millia Islamia and IIT Kharagpur were established. He also contributed to establishing the Sangeet Natak Academy, Lalit Kala Academy and many more reputed institutions across India. He advocated strongly for the education of girls and proposed the idea of free and compulsory education for both girls and boys until the secondary level.

Facts about Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

  • Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s real name.
  • He started writing poetry in Urdu at a very young age.
  • His career in journalism helped him gain prominence. In his articles, he criticised British Raj policies and supported Indian nationalism.
  • He was the youngest person to become the president of the Indian National Congress.
  • Azad was the first Muslim leader who opposed the partition of India.
  • In 1992, he was posthumously honored with the Bharat Ratna.
  • Many institutions across India are named after him, such as Maulana Azad Medical College, Maulana Azad Urdu University in Hyderabad and many more.
  • He wrote many books, such as India Wins Freedom, Gubhar-e-khatir, Tazkirah, Tarjumanul Quran, etc.
  • The Ministry of minority affairs of India provides fellowship in his name to students from minority communities to help them pursue higher studies such as PhD and M.Phil.

How national educational day is celebrated?

National Educational Day is celebrated across the entire nation as a festival. Students in Baddi and other parts of India organise several programmes, functions and performances to give tribute to the first education minister of India for his exemplary work in the field of education. This day also reminds us of the role of education in uplifting individuals' lives and shaping the nation's future.

The conclusion

At last, National Education Day is a day to acknowledge the impact of education on individuals and society. It honours the contribution of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in shaping the destiny of India. So, this national education day, let us renew our commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and recognise the importance of education in enlightening minds.