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National Education Day is celebrated on November 11, annually, across the country. The day is observed to celebrate the birth anniversary of the first education minister of independent India – Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. 

Mr Abul Kalam was an eminent educationist, who served the country from 15 August 1947 to 2 February 1958. 

During his service as education minister, he built the first IIT, IISc, School of Planning and Architecture, and the University Grants Commission. The most renowned cultural and literary academies, including the Sangeet Natak Academy, Lalit Kala Academy, Sahitya Academy, and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, were also established by him.

It was Mr Maulana who strongly advocated women’s education. In the Central Assembly in 1949, he stated that national education could not be suitable unless it takes into account the progress of one-half of society — women.

He also stressed the modern education system and usage of the English language for educational and professional benefits but never disregarded the mother language and believed that primary education must be imparted in Hindi (mother-tongue). 

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He was posthumously honoured with India’s highest civilian award – Bharat Ratna in 1992.

National Education Day: History

For the first time, the day was celebrated on November 11, 2008, by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to “commemorate the birthday of this great son (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad) of India by recalling his contribution to the cause of education in India.” 

National Education Day: Lesser-known Facts

  • Mr Maulana was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1888. His mother was an Arab and his father was a Bengali Muslim. 

  • He was multi-lingual and was homeschooled. 

  • He promoted Hindu-Muslim unity and for the same cause, he started two weekly journals – Al-Hilal and Al-Balagh.

  • At an age of 35, he became the youngest person to serve as the President of the Indian National Congress (INC). 

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National Education Day: Quotes by the first education minister

“We have not invaded anyone. We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them.”

“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.”

“Science is neutral. Its discoveries can be used equally to heal and to kill. It depends upon the outlook and mentality of the user whether science will be used to create a new heaven on earth or to destroy the world in a common conflagration.”

“Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or the top of your career.”

“Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.”

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