Before the British rule, education in India was imparted in gurukuls, madrassas and paathshaalas. They were centred on religion, literature, logic and mathematics and made significant contributions to our educational system. Modern education, however, was introduced in India during the colonial era, mostly to serve the concerns of the British.
As the demand to carry out the administrative work grew, the British concluded that it was a lot cheaper to educate Indians than to get Englishmen for the same work. For this purpose, they began educating people in India. But it was accessible to only a small section of people. Education was deliberately kept out of reach of the masses and scientific and technical knowledge wasn’t taught so that the British could rule India for longer. Caste and gender discrimination was highly prevalent and literacy rates were abysmally low.
Post-Independence, making education accessible for all became a priority and it was the efforts of our Indian reformers that education has come a long way since then. One such eminent personality was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Fondly remembered as Maulana Azad, he was independent India’s first Minister of Education. He laid the foundation of education in independent India and because of his countless contributions, his birthday- 11th November is observed as “National Education Day”.
Maulana Azad was a humanitarian, a scholar, prominent journalist and a freedom fighter who was a firm believer of democratic and secular values. He gave prominence to educating the rural population and girls and recognised the role of engineers, technicians, doctors and skilled workers in moulding a new economy.
It was under his leadership that the country’s first IIT (1951) as well as the University Grants Commission (UGC, in 1953) was set up. He pushed for more adult literacy as well as free and compulsory education up to the age of 14. His national programmes gave a boost to construction of schools and colleges, enrolment of children in schools and diversification of education.
Since then, continuous efforts have been made to make affordable education accessible to all. Time and again, several committees were constituted and schemes such as the mid-day meal (1995) were introduced. The Right to Education Act was enforced in 2010, making free and compulsory education a fundamental right of every child aged between 6 and 14. Institutes and colleges are often provided land at subsidised rates and scholarships are introduced to reach out to the weaker sections of the society.
Maulana Azad was a visionary whose work in the field of education continues to inspire many even today. It is the efforts made by him and many others that the literacy rate which was once 18% in 1947, stands at 74% (2011). The number of primary schools grew by three times in 2001-2002 and number of universities increased from 27 (1950-51) to 254 (2000-01).
In an address in 1948, Maulana Azad said:-
“We must not for a moment forget, it is a birth right of every individual to receive at least the basic education without which he cannot fully discharge his duties as a citizen.”
Carrying this vision and legacy forward, Jahangirabad Institute of Technology strives to work towards the betterment of the society by making quality and affordable education a reality for all.
We wish all our readers a Happy Indian Independence Day!