September 8 is celebrated as International Literacy Day every year since 1965, when it was first proclaimed by UNESCO.
There were several pioneers who strove to make bring quality education in the country. Let's take a look at some of the greatest educators in India.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
It may be blasphemy in today’s times to name Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as one of India’s greatest educators, but one cannot ignore his contribution to the education of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. The Aligarh Muslim University, founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan is ranked among the top universities in India. Khan saw the need of modern education amongst Muslims, and started a movement to create awareness about education amongst fellow Islamists. He first started a school in Muradabad and then followed it up with many more. Muhammedan Anglo Oriental College was founded in 1875 in Aligarh, and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan wanted it to become a Muslim university on par with Cambridge. He literally started a movement called the Aligarh Movement and stirred up an educational revolution amongst Muslims.
Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil
While Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and his wife Savitribai can be credited for the spread of mass education in Maharashtra, Bhaurao Patil took this legacy forward by setting up schools and colleges throughout the state from 1920 onwards. He was the pioneer of the 'earn while you learn' system in Maharashtra and set up numerous hostels and boarding houses for needy kids. Patil’s contribution seems larger when we consider the caste system predominant in Maharashtra and he insisted that his institutions will be open to all. His wife Laxmibai was equally supportive in his cause and reportedly offered him all her ornaments, including her mangalsutra, to ensure there was no paucity of funds for his schools. Patil turned the Rayat Shikshan Sanstha into a mass movement as he sought contributions as little as a few paise from the rayat i.e. the common people.
It may be a sweet dilemma – is her contribution to women’s education greater than her husband Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, who was one of the greatest social reformers in Maharashtra? Savitribai followed up with every cause that her husband took up and surpassed him. While Jyotirao took up the women’s cause, she made him open schools for girls, unheard of in the middle of the 19th century. People threw cow dung at them in conservative Pune, as the couple opened the first school for women. Jyotirao supported widow remarriage, adopted a boy from a widowed Brahmin lady who was going to commit suicide and opened a care home for orphans. Savitribai took care of the kids like her own. Her death too was in tune with her life. As she took bubonic plague victims from Pune to her son’s clinic, she contracted the disease herself and died. Today, Pune University is named after her.
Dr RM Alagappa Chettiar
Born in Kottaiyur in the Sivaganga district, Dr RM Alagappa Chettiyar was a model teacher who was friends with Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the former President of India. He strongly believed in education and donated generously for the cause. Dr RM Alagappa Chettiyar is said to have revolutionised education in Karaikaudi. The Alagappa Arts College was started at Karaikudi thanks to his donation in 1947 and 11 educational institutions were built subsequently in the Alagappa name thanks to his foundation and donations. These include the Alagappa College of Technology Campus (Anna University) and Alagappa Chettiar Government College of Engineering & Technology (ACCET), Karaikudi.
Dr Mrs YG Parthasarathy
In 1958, a group of housewives, including a former journalist Mrs YG Parthasarathy from the Nungambakkam Ladies Recreation Club, came together to set up the Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan School (PSBB) in Nungambakan, Chennai. Today, the group of institutions headed by Padmashri Awardee Dr Mrs YGP (as she is popularly known) has branches in Chennai, Coimbatore, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The PSBB Group schools were ranked first in the south zone in the Day Schools category by a survey conducted by Education World in 2011. 90-year-old Mrs YGP still looks after the schools.
Dr Tonse Madhav Ananth Pai
Manipal in Karnataka flourished into a university city thanks to educationist and banker Padma Shri Dr Tonse Madhav Ananth Pai or Dr TMA Pai. Born in 1898, Dr TMA Pai was the first person in India to start a private, self-financing medical college that offered the MBBS course. Before he passed away in 1979, DR TMA Pai went on to set up numerous other institutions in Manipal like Kasturba Medical College (1953), Manipal Institute of Technology (1957), Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore.
This politician from Tamil Nadu was hailed as a ‘kingmaker’. In 1954, Kamaraj became Chief Minister and made significant changes to the education system in the state. He removed the family vocation-based Hereditary Education Policy and opened new schools in rural areas to provide access to education for students there.
As Chief Minister, he made sure every village and panchayat had at least one school and introduced free and compulsory education till 11th standard. The Midday Meal Scheme that provides one meal a day to students in government schools in Tamil Nadu today, was introduced by him. Education in the state rose from 7% to 37% post the education reforms he introduced. A lesser known fact is that it was thanks to his efforts and that of Governor Medhi, that IIT Madras was established in 1959.
Source :- http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-international-literacy-day-here-are-some-of-the-greatest-indian-educators-2123098
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