National Education Day: Remembering Abul Kalam Azad For Laying Building Blocks Of Modern Education System

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National Education Day: Remembering Abul Kalam Azad For Laying Building Blocks Of Modern Education System

Abul Kalam Azad served as India's first Education Minister for over a decade from 1947 to 1958. He was posthumously honoured with the country's highest civilian award – Bharat Ratna in 1992.

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India celebrates 'National Education Day' every year on November 11. It commemorates the birth anniversary of Independent India's first Education Minister Abul Kalam Azad

The day is observed with great pomp and show across the country to remember Azad's contribution in laying the foundation of the country's education system while evaluating and setting the benchmark.

Azad served the term for over a decade from 1947 to 1958. He was posthumously honoured with the country's highest civilian award – Bharat Ratna in 1992.

Education

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1888. His father Maulana Khairuddin bin Ahmed Al Hussaini was a Muslim scholar of Afghan ancestry, while his mother came from an Arab background and was the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad Zaher AlWatri. Azad settled in Calcutta with his family in 1890 when he was two years old.

Azad was home-schooled and pursued traditional Islamic education. He was taught at home, first by his father and later by hired tutors who were eminent in their respective fields. Being fluent in Arabic, he learned it as a first language and later pursued Persian and then philosophy, geometry, mathematics, and algebra. He also self-learned English, world history, and politics. Azad also knew Hindi, Hindustani and English languages, The Indian Express reported.

Azad had set up a library, a reading room, and was running a debating society before he turned 12 and wanted to write on the life of Al-Ghazali, contributed learned articles to Makhzan (a literary magazine) at 14, taught students twice his age at 15, and finished the traditional course of study at 16, nine years ahead of his contemporaries, and brought out a magazine at the same period.

He got married to Zulaikha Begum when he was merely 13. He reportedly compiled various treatises interpreting the Qur'an, the Hadis, and the principles of Fiqh and Kalam.

Journalistic Career

Azad started his journalistic endeavours at an early age. In 1899, when he was 11, he began publishing a poetical journal Nairang-e-Aalam and was already an editor of a weekly Al-Misbah in 1900. He contributed articles to Urdu magazines and periodicals like Makhzan, Ahsanul Akhbar, and Khadang e Nazar.

In 1903, he started a monthly journal, Lissan-us-Sidq. It was published between December 1903 to May 1905 until its closure due to lack of funds. He then joined Al Nadwa, the Islamic journal of the Nadwatu l-Ulama on Shibli Nomani's invitation. He worked as editor of Vakil, a newspaper from Amritsar from April 1906 to November 1906. He moved to Calcutta for a short time, where he was associated with Dar-ul-Saltunat. He returned to Amritsar after a few months and resumed the editorship of Vakil, continuing to work there until July 1908.

He brought out an Urdu weekly newspaper in 1912 called Al-Hilal from Calcutta, and openly attacked British policies while exploring the challenges facing ordinary people. Azad's publications were aimed to encourage young Muslims into fighting for independence and Hindu-Muslim unity. However, the British government termed Al- Hilal as a propagator of secessionist views and banned it in 1914.

Azad then brought out another weekly called Al-Balagh with the same mission. In 1916, the government banned it too and expelled Azad from Calcutta and exiled him to Bihar. He was later released after the First World War in 1920.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad supported Ganshi's Non-Cooperation Movement and joined Indian National Congress. After three years, he was elected as the president of the special session of the Congress in Delhi. At 35, he became the youngest person to become the President of the Congress party.

He was arrested in 1930 for violation of the salt laws as part of Gandhiji's Salt Satyagraha. He was lodged in Meerut jail for 18 months. After his release, he again became the president of Congress in 1940 and remained in the post till 1946.

Shaping India's Education System

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was one of the founding members of the Jamia Milia Islamia University, which was originally established in Uttar Pradesh's Aligarh.

As India's first Minister of Education, he has been responsible for laying the building blocks that are shaping the modern education system of the country. Azad emphasised on educating girls and rural people. As Chairman of the Central Advisory Board of Education, he also focused on adult literacy, free and compulsory for all kids up to the age of 14, universal primary education, and diversification of secondary education and vocational training.

He oversaw the Central Institute of Education, Delhi, which later became the Department of Education of the University of Delhi as "a research centre for solving new educational problems of India".

Under his leadership, the Ministry of Education established the first Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in 1951 and the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 1953. He also backed the development of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Faculty of Technology of the Delhi University.

Also Read: 47% Of Countries' Curricula Not Inclusive Of Climate Change Issues: UNESCO Report


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Writer : Tashafi Nazir
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