Prime Minister's Office
azadi ka amrit mahotsav g20-india-2023

English rendering of PM’s address at Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Sangh Adhiveshan in Gandhinagar, Gujarat

Posted On: 12 MAY 2023 4:10PM by PIB Delhi

The popular Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel, my colleague in the Union Council of Ministers and who introduces himself as a teacher throughout his life, Parshottam Rupala ji, C.R. Patil ji, who won with the highest victory margin in the last Lok Sabha elections, ministers of the Gujarat government, all members of the Akhil Bhartiya Primary Shikshak Sangh, respected teachers from every corner of the country, ladies and gentlemen!

I am grateful to you for inviting me to this national convention of the Akhil Bhartiya Primary Shikshak Sangh with so much affection. At a time, when India is moving forward with the determination to become a developed country in the ‘Amrit Kaal’ of independence, the role of teachers is very important. During my tenure (as Chief Minister) of Gujarat, I have had the experience of working with primary teachers to transform the entire education system of the state. As mentioned by the Chief Minister, the dropout rate in Gujarat used to be around 40 percent once upon a time. And as informed by the Chief Minister, it has come down to less than three percent. This has been possible only with the cooperation of the teachers of Gujarat. My experiences with the teachers in Gujarat have helped us a lot in the policy framework and making policies at the national level as well.

 As Rupala ji was saying, a large number of girls used to drop out of school due to non-availability of toilets in schools. Therefore, we started a special campaign to build separate toilets for girls in schools. Once upon a time, science stream was not taught at all in the entire tribal belt from Umargam to Ambaji which is inhabited by our tribal brothers. Today teachers are not only teaching science there, but my tribal sons and daughters are also becoming doctors and engineers.

 On several occasions, when I visited abroad as the Prime Minister, I came across many leaders who were full of praise of our teachers and every teacher sitting here must feel proud. I would like to share some of my experiences with you. Whenever I met some of the foreign leaders, they would describe with great pride the contribution of Indian teachers in their lives. Bhutan was my first foreign trip after I became the Prime Minister. During my discussion with the royal family of Bhutan, the then King (Jigme Singye Wangchuck) proudly told me that most of the people of his generation in Bhutan had received education from Indian teachers. Similarly, when I went to Saudi Arabia, I found that the King, who is a very senior and revered figure, also loves me a lot. When I met him, he told me that he loved me very much. Then he told me the reason for the affection. He told me that he might be King today, but his teacher during his childhood was from Gujarat, India. The King of such a prosperous country was proudly recalling the contribution of an Indian teacher while talking to the Prime Minister of India. 

You would have seen many WHO statements on TV during the Corona pandemic. You must have seen many statements of the Director General of the WHO, Mr. Tedros (Adhanom Ghebreyesus), also on TV during that time. I have a great friendship with him and he always used to say proudly (the contribution of Indian teachers in his life). When he came to Jamnagar last year, he mentioned it again proudly. He said that one or the other Indian teacher contributed at every stage of his life since childhood. ‘India's teachers have been instrumental in shaping my life’. And then he told me that ‘I have come to India today. The teachers of India have made me (what I am today). Can you give me a brand gift?’ I asked him ‘what?’ He told me, ‘You will have to give it and that too publicly.’ I said I will definitely give it to you, but let me know what it is. He said, ‘You christen my Hindustani name’. I publicly named Mr. Tedros as Mr. Tulsi. In short, the teachers of India have left such an indelible mark in the world wherever they went and the people continue to remember them even after several generations.


Rupala ji can proudly say that he is a lifelong teacher. I am not a teacher myself. But I proudly say that I am a lifelong student. I have learned to observe closely whatever happens in society from you. Today, I would like to share my experiences with you in detail at this convention of primary teachers. In this fast changing 21st century, India's education system is changing, teachers are changing and so are students. Therefore, it becomes very important how to move forward in these changing circumstances in such a situation. As we have seen, earlier teachers used to face many challenges like lack of resources and infrastructure. And there was also no unique challenge from the students. Today, the problems faced by the teachers due to lack of resources and facilities are slowly being removed. But, the curiosity of today's generation of children presents a big challenge for the parents as well as the teachers. These students are full of confidence and fearless. Such has been their nature that even an eight or nine-year-old student also challenges the teacher. He asks something new apart from the traditional methods of education. Their curiosity challenges teachers to go beyond the curriculum and subjects to answer their questions. The teachers present here must be experiencing the same from their children every day. Their questions would often perplex you. Students have different sources of information. There is a challenge before the teachers to update themselves.

The future of our education system depends on how a teacher copes with these challenges. And the best way is to look at these challenges as opportunities for personal and professional growth. These challenges give us an opportunity to learn, unlearn and re-learn. One way is also to make yourself the guide and mentor of the students. You also know that data can be obtained from Google, but one has to make the decision by himself. Only a Guru can guide the student how to use his knowledge properly. Technology can provide information, but it is the teacher only who can provide the right approach. Only a Guru can help children understand what information is useful and what is not. No technology can understand the family status of a student. Only a Guru can understand his situation and motivate him to get out of all difficulties. Similarly, no technology in the world can teach how to understand a subject deeply or how to do ‘deep learning’.

When there is a flood of information, it becomes important for the students to learn how to concentrate on one thing. Deep learning and taking it to its logical conclusion is very important. Therefore, today the role of teacher in the life of a student of the 21st century has become very important. And I would also like to tell you that I have not come here to preach anything to you and neither can I preach. But forget for a moment that you are a teacher. Think for a moment that you are the mother and father of a child. How do you want your child to be? What do you want for your child? And no one can deny this. The first answer that you will get is ‘Maybe I am a teacher, both of us are teachers, but our children should get good teachers and good education’. This is your desire in your heart for your children that your children should get good teachers and good education. The desire that is in your heart, the same desire is also in the hearts of crores of parents of India. What you want for your children is what every parent in India wants for their children and they expect the same from you.


Always keep this in mind that the student keeps learning a lot from you, your vision, your daily behaviour, your presentation and how you carry yourself. There is sometimes a huge difference between what you are teaching and what the student is learning from you. You may think that you are teaching maths, science, history or any other subject, but the student is not just learning that subject from you. He is also learning how to present one’s opinion. He is also learning from you qualities like being patient and helping others. He also learns from you how to remain affectionate while being strict at the same time. He also gets the quality of being fair from his teacher. Therefore, the role of primary education is very important. For young children, the teacher is the first person outside the family with whom they spend the most time. Therefore, the realization of this responsibility in all of you will greatly strengthen the future generations of India.


In the schools where you are currently working, the new National Education Policy would have either been implemented or would be about to be implemented. And I am proud that lakhs of teachers of the country have contributed in preparing the National Education Policy. This education policy has been made possible due to the hard work of the teachers. And as a result, it has been welcomed everywhere. Today, India is creating new systems according to the modern needs of the 21st century. This new National Education Policy has been made keeping this in mind.

We were giving only bookish knowledge to our children in the name of education in schools for so many years. The new National Education Policy is changing that old irrelevant system. The National Education Policy is based on practical knowledge. Now it is said that the period of teaching has come to an end. Now education has to be furthered through learning. For example, if you have to tell something about clay, teach something about chalk, you can take the children to the potter. If you go to a potter, you will get to see many things. In what conditions do the potters live, how hard do they work? How much effort a person is making to come out of poverty? And this will awaken sensitivity in children. Children will see how pots are made from clay. They will be introduced to different types of soil. Such a practical approach is a very important element of the National Education Policy.


We often hear about unique experiments and debates on teaching and learning these days. But let me tell you an incident from my childhood. I am reminded of one of my teachers today. He was my primary teacher. He would give one or the other assignment to children at the end of the periods. It was not typical homework, but something different. He would ask somebody to bring 10 flakes of rice the next day. Similarly, he would ask the other child to bring 10 pieces of moong lentil. The third child was told to bring 10 toor lentils. The fourth one was told to bring 10 grams. He would tell everybody in the class to bring 10 such things the next day. As a result, the child would keep on repeating that he has to bring 10 pieces of something the next day. The digit 10 used to be fixed in his mind. He would remember in his mind that he was to bring wheat or rice the next day. The moment he would enter home, he would tell his mother that he had to carry whatever the teacher told him the next day. As a result, his mind remained occupied with that figure. Our teacher would mingle all the grains and lentils when we would go to our class the next day. Then he would ask each student to pick up three or five pieces of different grains and lentils. As a result, not only the child starts recognising the gram or moong dal, he also starts remembering the figure. Such was his practical approach to teaching, though it seemed very strange to us. But that was his way of teaching. We moved to the next class after one year. The teacher was the same. He repeated the same thing. Since I am inquisitive, I asked him why he was repeating the same thing which we had already done the previous year. He shut me down and told me to mind my business. The next day, all the students brought what they were supposed to. However, he made a change.  He blindfolded every student. Then he told us to feel the difference between moong or gram by touching them. He taught us the power of the senses of touch in a very simple manner. I am telling you my experience of how a teacher produces amazing results when he is involved with his students. Can you imagine how much we benefited from this one simple activity? We learned about counting, we learned about pulses and we also learned about colours. This is how he used to teach us with practical knowledge. Studying with practical knowledge is also the basic spirit of the National Education Policy, and you all have to fulfil the responsibility of implementing it on the ground.


A major provision that has been made in the National Education Policy is going to help a lot to the teachers of our villages and small towns. This is the provision of education in the mother tongue. The British ruled our country for about 250 years, but still the English language remained limited to one section of society. Unfortunately, such a system was created after independence that education in the English language was prioritised. Parents were also inspired to teach their children in the English language. I don't know whether my teachers’ union has ever thought about its disadvantages or not. Today I am telling you about its ill-effects. And if you realise this reality then the more you praise this government on this subject the less it will be. What happened when English was given importance? Our lakhs of teachers from villages and poor families, who graduated in their mother tongue, did not get the opportunity to learn English, no matter how good they were. They were faced with the threat of unemployment, because there was an atmosphere of English all around. Therefore, we have laid greater emphasis on education in mother tongue to protect your job and the job of colleagues like you in future also. It will greatly help our teachers. This practice has been going on in our country for decades. But now the National Education Policy promotes teaching in the mother tongue. You will get a huge benefit from this. Our youths and teachers from poor families and villages will get huge benefits from this change and there will be better opportunities for jobs.


Amidst the challenges being faced by teachers today, we also need to create such an environment in the society in which people come forward voluntarily to become teachers. In the prevailing situation, we see that people talk about becoming doctors, engineers, doing MBA and are keen to master technology. But rarely do we find somebody saying that he wants to become a teacher and wants to teach children. This situation is a big challenge for any society. This question is very important whether we are teaching children just as a part of our job because we are getting salary, but are we teachers from our heart as well? Are we teachers for life? Do we have this encompassing feeling in our mind that we have to shape the future of the country and teach something new to the children every day? I believe that teachers have a very important role in building society.

But sometimes, I am pained looking at their situation. You will be able to understand my pain when I tell you something. I had two wishes when I became the Chief Minister for the first time. One, I wanted to invite my childhood friends who studied with me in school to CM’s house, because I was living a nomadic life and as a result, I had lost touch with them. It had been more than three decades since I met them. And secondly, I wanted to invite all my teachers to my home and honour them. And I am happy that one of the teachers who I called to my home was 93 years old. You will be proud to know that I am such a student who has remained in contact with all my teachers who are still alive. But what I am noticing nowadays is that people rarely call their teachers to important functions like marriages. Whenever I get any wedding invitation, I ask the person who is getting married whether he has invited any teacher for this important occasion of his life. Ninety percent of the people say they have not invited their teachers. And when I ask them for the reason, they start looking here and there. Isn’t it strange that the person who was a stepping stone in your life and you don’t remember him when you are at an important stage of your life? This is the cruel reality of society. We need to ponder why this is happening.

And there is another aspect to this reality. As I put this question to students, I also do the same with the teachers. I love attending programs related to education. I have been attending such programs for many years. Even if I go to programs organised by small schools, I ask them whether they can name 10 students now that they have been teachers for 12-20-25 years. I ask them about the names of 10 students who have attained stupendous success in their career and they are proud that they were their students. Unfortunately, I have to say that many teachers are not able to answer me that they have been teachers for 20 years but they don’t remember the name of 10 students who have created a niche for themselves. They are also not in touch with their students. Therefore, there is zero result, friends. In other words, disconnect is from both the ends. It is happening with both the teachers and the students.

And friends,

It is not that everything is over. It is altogether different when it comes to the field of sports. We find that if a player wins a medal, he dedicates it to his Guru and his coach. Often, there is a gap between a player and his childhood mentor for about 15-20 years. But once he wins a medal in the Olympics, he recalls the services of his mentor and salutes him.  This feeling of respect for the Guru remains in his mind for the rest of his life. This happens because the Guru or the coach focuses on that player individually, gets involved in his life and works hard to prepare him to be a better player. On the contrary, we rarely find a student recalling the contributions of his teacher or that he is in touch with him. We must ponder why this is happening.


Over time, there has been an increasing disconnect between students and schools. After passing out from the school, the students rarely remember their school. It is only when they need a certificate that they remember their school. I often ask people whether they remember the birthday or the foundation day of their school. Birthday means the day when the school was opened in the village. And I am telling you from my personal experience that neither the teachers nor the management who are working in that school or the students who studied there remember when the school was started. They are not even aware of it. We can start a tradition to celebrate the birthday of schools to remove this disconnect between school and students. It should be celebrated on a wide scale and the entire village should be involved in it. You can invite all the people who have studied in that school and the former teachers. You will see that the entire atmosphere will change and there will be a new beginning of affinity. This will create a connection in society and you will also come to know where your children who have been taught by you have reached today. You will feel proud. I also see that schools do not know where their educated children have reached, at what height they are. Some of them have become CEOs of some companies, some are doctors, engineers and some others have joined civil services. Everyone knows about them, but the school in which they studied has no knowledge about them. It is my firm belief that no matter how great a person is, no matter what position he holds, if he gets an invitation from his school, he will definitely go to that school happily. Therefore, every school must celebrate its birthday.


There is another very important topic and that is fitness, health and hygiene. All these topics are related to each other. Many times I see that the life of children has become so dormant that there is no physical activity throughout the day.  Either, they are glued to mobile phones or sitting in front of TV. Sometimes when I used to go to schools, I used to ask the children how many children there are who sweat four times a day. Many children do not even know what perspiration is. Children do not sweat because there is no routine for games. In such a situation, how will their all-round development happen?

You are aware how much the government is focusing on the nutrition of the children. The government arranges the mid-day meal for school children. If there is this notion that the scheme should look good on paper and it has to be implemented as a formality then we will continue to face challenges regarding nutrition.  I see it in a different way, friends. The government makes the provision for it. But we are people of the country where anybody can take part in the free kitchen service run by anybody. Society looks at that person with great pride and reverence. Today if we talk about ‘langar’, then langar is seen with great reverence. Or for that matter, if a ‘Bhandara’ is organised to feed people, it is looked upon with great reverence. Don't we feel that ‘Bhandara’ is going on every day in our schools? It is not enough that poor children are getting to eat something. There should be joy and a pure feeling to feed those children. We should have this realization that they should not remain hungry whereas society has enough. I am of the view that schools should invite two senior people every day for the afternoon mid-day meal and they should serve the children and partake the same food also. You will notice that the entire scenario will change. The same mid-day meal will become the reason for a big ritual. Importantly, the students will develop the values of how to eat cleanly, not to spoil any food and not to waste anything. When we set an example as teachers, the result is spectacular.

       I remember going to a school in a tribal dominated district in Gujarat when I was the Chief Minister. When I went there, I found the children were very neat and clean and each one had a handkerchief pinned on their shirt pockets. Those children were taught to clean their hands and nose and they used to follow it religiously. And once the school was over, the teacher used to take back those handkerchiefs. She would wash those handkerchiefs at her home and bring them back the next day and pin the same on children’s shirt pockets. And when I tried to find out more about that teacher, I found that she was very poor but would never sell her old saree. Otherwise, we have this tradition in Gujarat that we buy utensils by selling our old clothes. That lady would make handkerchiefs from her old saree and would pin the same on the shirt pockets of the children. Now you see how many values that teacher was imparting to her students with the pieces of her old saree and which was not even a part of her duty? She had a sense of hygiene. I am talking about the mother of that tribal area.

Brothers and sisters,

I will tell you about another experience regarding the sense of hygiene when I visited another school. It was not a very big school. It was a hut-like school and was in a tribal area. There was a mirror there. That teacher had made a rule that whosoever comes to school will have to stand in front of the mirror for five seconds first and then go to the class. As a result, any child, who used to come, would first settle his hair in front of that mirror before entering the class.  With that single experiment, the self-respect of the students was awakened. They felt that they should always keep themselves like this. There are hundreds of such examples before us how teachers can bring about change in a wonderful way.


You can imagine what a small effort of yours can make a big difference. I can give you many examples, which I myself have seen and learned while living among teachers. Since there is paucity of time, I am not going to elaborate my point. I will end my speech. I am sure the place that our tradition has given to the Gurus, all of you will take that dignity, pride and the great tradition forward, and fulfil the dream of New India. With this belief, I thank all of you very much and wish you all the best.




(Release ID: 1923672) Visitor Counter : 1634