My colleagues in the Union Cabinet, Dharmendra ji, Annapurna Devi ji and all my teacher colleagues from all over the country! In a way, I am also talking to all the teachers of the country today through you.
Today, the country is paying tribute to the former President of India and educationist Dr. Radhakrishnan ji on his birth anniversary and it is our good fortune that our current President is also a teacher. In the early period of her life, she worked as a teacher and that too in the far-flung interior areas of Odisha. It is a happy coincidence for us in many ways that you have been honored by the President who was also a teacher. This is a matter of pride for you.
When the country is committed to fulfill its colossal dreams of the ‘Amrit Kaal’ of independence, then Radhakrishnan ji's efforts in the field of education inspire all of us. On this occasion, I congratulate all the teachers who have received national awards. These awards are given in the states too.
I got an opportunity to interact with many teachers just now. Everyone speaks a different language. There may be different languages, regions and problems, but there is one thing in common and that is your efforts and your dedication towards your students. This commonality among you is very important. You must have seen that a successful teacher never discourages his students by saying that ‘it is not possible for you’. The biggest strength of a teacher is his positivity. No matter how weak a child is in his studies, the teacher will encourage him and inspire him to perform better citing someone else’s performance.
These are the qualities of the teacher. He will speak positively every time. It is not in his nature to discourage anyone by making negative comments. And it is the role of a teacher which enlightens the child. The teacher sows dreams inside every child and teaches him to convert that dream into a resolution. He encourages the child that he can realize his dream if he is committed. You must have seen that child converting his dreams into resolutions and accomplishing them by walking the path shown by his teacher. That is, this entire journey from dream to accomplishment happens with the same beam of light, which a teacher had sown as a dream and lit a lamp in his life. It shows him the way even in the midst of so many challenges and darkness.
Today, the country is poised at such a juncture with new dreams and resolutions that the present generation of students will chart the destiny of India in 2047. And their life is in your hands. This means that the teachers, who are going to serve for the next 10 and 20 years, will decide the future of the country in 2047.
It’s not just that you work in a school, teach students in a classroom or manage a syllabus. You become part of the life of the student and groom him and work on building dreams for the country through him. A teacher with small dreams, who is only bothered about 10 to 5 job and is concerned about only four periods, may be getting salary on the first of every month, but he does not draw any pleasure and he finds all those things a burden. But when he gets attached to his students’ dreams, then nothing seems to be a burden to him. He realizes that he can make an important contribution to the country (by helping fulfill dreams of his students). Can you imagine the kind of pleasure one will get if he decides to prepare a player with a dream of him standing on the pedestal with the Tricolour. You can’t imagine the amount of pleasure that you will derive by staying awake at night (for that dream).
Classroom, four-five periods and to replace a teacher if he does not come … I know your problems and that’s why I am saying this. But you should get rid of all these burdens and become attached with the lives of the children.
Secondly, more than teaching and imparting knowledge to students, we need to make their lives better. See, life is not made in isolation, or in silos. A child finds himself in conflict and contradiction if he sees different things in his classroom, school premises and home environment. He is perplexed because his mother says something whereas the teacher and the rest of the class say something different. It is our duty to bring that child out of dilemma. But there is no injection or vaccine that will resolve his dilemma. Therefore, it is very important for the teachers to have an integrated approach.
How many teachers are there who know the family of their students, have ever met their family and enquired from them about their children? Has somebody told the family of the student about his strength and that he can make good progress if he is paid little attention at home? ‘Being a teacher, I will not spare my efforts, but you also help me a little’.
You sow a dream in the members of that family and they also become your companions. Then the home itself becomes a school of culture. The dreams that you sow in the classroom, those dreams begin to blossom in that house. You must have come across a student or two who upset you in your classroom. The moment you notice him, you get upset because you think he would spoil your time. He also has the same feeling toward you. He sits on the front row of the bench and feels that this particular teacher does not like him.
Should injustice be done to those children just because of one’s likes and dislikes? A successful teacher is one who has neither likes nor dislikes with respect to his children. For him, they are all equal. I have seen teachers who have their own children in the same classroom. But those teachers treat their own children in the classroom in the same way as they treat other students.
If he has to ask a question to four students, he does not favour his child. Because he knows that his child needs a good teacher besides a good mother and father. Therefore, he tries his best to maintain the teacher-student relationship in a classroom while discharging his role as a parent at home. His personal relationship with his child does not reflect in the classroom.
It is only possible due to the great sacrifice of the teacher. And therefore, our education system and the traditions of India have never been limited to books. It is a kind of moral support for us. There are so many things which have been made possible due to technology. I can see that there are so many teachers in our villages who have learnt a great deal by using technology. They also realized that they could prepare something from the syllabus which could benefit their students.
Those in the government are only concerned with figures – the number of teachers to be recruited, the figure of students who have dropped out or the enrolment of girl students. They are only occupied with this, whereas a teacher is concerned about the life of his students. It is a big difference. Therefore, teachers can make a huge difference if they undertake these responsibilities in a proper way.
Now our National Education Policy has come in for a lot of praise. Why? I can’t claim that there would be no shortcomings. Nobody can make such a claim. But some people found merit in it and decided to adopt it. But we are so obsessed with old habits that it would not be very easy to accept the National Education Policy. Mahatma Gandhi ji was once asked by someone what he does when he is confronted with some doubts or problems. He said ‘I get a lot from the Bhagavad Gita’. This means that he read it again and again, found new meanings every time and became enlightened.
Similarly, the people from the world of education should go through the National Education Policy 10-12-15 times and look for solutions. It should not be seen as a government circular only. We need to adapt it wholeheartedly. If such an attempt is made, then I am confident about the success of the policy because the teachers of our country have played an important role in formulating the National Education Policy. Lakhs of teachers have contributed in making this policy.
For the first time, such a huge brainstorming has taken place in the country. It is the job of the teachers who have formulated it to see to it that it becomes useful for the children as the official language is of very little use to them. It needs to be explained to them in a very simple and lucid manner. I am of the view that students should discuss the National Education Policy in the same way as they do with theatrical experiments, essay-writing and personality competitions. Because the teachers have prepared it, but if they discuss then certainly one or two new things will emerge. This should be an endeavor.
You would recall my Independence Day speech on 15th August on the completion of 75 years of independence. I spoke with 2047 in mind. And I mentioned ‘Panch Pran’ (five pledges) during my speech. Can those five pledges be discussed in classrooms? During morning assembly in schools, students and teachers can be identified who would speak on these five pledges on five different days of the week. It should continue throughout the year. What does it imply? These five pledges should be the pledges of every citizen.
If we can do this then I think that these five pledges can help us create a path for our future. It should be our endeavor to see how these five pledges can become part of the life of the students.
Secondly, there should not be any student in India who does not have a dream for 2047 in his mind. He should be asked how old he would be in 2047. He should be asked about his plans for himself and the country in those years. He should calculate years, months, days and hours till 2047 and tell about his plans. Immediately, a canvas would be ready before him. He would count his hours and find that 2047 is approaching with every hour passing by. He would start making plans as to how to approach 2047.
If we can instill this sense among students, they will go after it with new energy and enthusiasm. Only those in the world make progress who dream big, take big resolutions and are ready to spend their entire life with foresightedness.
You see before 1947, the entire country was overwhelmed with the mantra of independence for 12 years between the 1930 Dandi Yatra and the 1942 Quit India movement. Independence had become the temperament of the people in all their walks of life. We need the same temperament now for better governance and the pride of the country.
I have full faith in our teachers and the people involved in the world of education. If you commit yourself to this endeavour, I am sure we can realize those dreams. Very soon, this feeling will emerge from villages. Now the country does not want to stop. You see, two days ago, we left behind those who ruled us for 250 years and moved ahead in the world of economy. This pleasure of improving ranking from the sixth largest to the fifth largest economy is special, because we have surpassed those (who ruled us). There is this special feeling of Tricolour and 15th August.
This 5th ranking has come in light of the (freedom) movement for the Tricolor on 15th August (1947). This tenacity is all due to the Tricolour which is fluttering high. This temperament is very important. Therefore, we need the same temperament which existed between 1930 and 1942 which was to live for the country, to fight for the country, and if need be, to die for the country.
I will not leave my country behind. We have come out of the slavery of thousands of years. There is opportunity now, we will not stop and we will continue to forge ahead. If our teachers also become part of this endeavor, then our power will increase manifold.
You have won these awards after your hard work. Therefore, I am assigning more work to you. One feels like assigning work to somebody who works hard. Otherwise, who gives work to someone who does not work? I have full faith in teachers that they fulfill any responsibility which they undertake. Many best wishes to you!
Thanks a lot!