The National Education Day is observed on November 11 to commemorate India’s first Education Minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s birth anniversary. From 1947 to 1958, he was the first education minister of independent India. On September 11, 2008, the Ministry of Education, then the Ministry of Human Resource Development, declared that it would honour the birthday of this great son of India by remembering his commitment to the cause of education in India.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, also known as Ghulam Muhiyuddin, was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 1888. As a liberation fighter, he founded Al-Hilal, a weekly Urdu publication, in 1912 to criticise British policy. After Al-Hilal was prohibited, he began another weekly Al-Bagah.
Azad was a significant supporter of women’s education. In 1949, he stated in the Central Assembly that national education could not be suitable unless it considers the advancement of one-half of society — women. He emphasised the importance of a modern education system and advocated for English as a language of instruction.
He did feel, however, that primary education should be taught in the mother tongue.
The first IIT, IISc, School of Planning and Architecture, and the University Grants Commission were formed during his education minister stint. The Sangeet Natak Academy, Lalit Kala Academy, Sahitya Academy, and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations were among the most notable cultural and literary academies established.
In 1992, Azad was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna. In 1958, he took his last breath.