30 December, 2008

APJ Abdul Kalam's Inspirational Speech

Address during the inauguration of 15th National Conference of Sahodaya School Complexes 2008 by CBSE, Bhopal

11/Dec/2008: Bhopal

My School will transform my Students with Knowledge and Value Systems

Knowledge makes you Great

I am delighted to participate in the 15th National Conference of Sahodaya School Complexes 2008 organised by Central Board of Secondary Education at Bhopal. I am happy that Sahodaya movement is nurturing, caring and sharing initiative which is aimed towards enhancing the academic quality of constituent schools. During the last 22 years, number of initiatives has been taken by the Sahodaya partners in improving the quality of assessment and application of technology in schools. I consider that the Principals are the leaders who transform the children into enlightened citizens through the provision of good educational practices.

I greet all the pioneers who have contributed in establishing and growing the Sahodaya movement. My greetings to all of you. When I am in the midst of the teachers of teachers, I would like to talk on the topic “My School will transform my Students with Knowledge and Value Systems”.

Dear Principals, let us discuss for few minutes on dynamic school. Please look at the various dimensions and add or modify the dimensions based on your experience and requirement. Now, let me visualize a dynamic school system, how will it be?

Dynamic school
1. A school that radiates greatness by teaching capacity of the teachers.
2. A school is great because creativity is bubbling everywhere.
3. A school is great, because it cherishes the learning environment with library, internet, e-learning and creative laboratories.
4. A School is great, because it creates and generate students with confidence that “I can do it” that in-turn will generate the team spirit that “We will do it” and “India will do it”.
5. A School is great because it has teachers who lead a unique way of life with purity and become role models for the students and develop them as enlightened citizens.
6. A School is great because it has the capacity to teach all students to succeed.
7. A School that generates creativity among all students irrespective of whether they belong to arts or science stream.
8. A school is great, that generates alumni who cherish that they belong to this school.

Teacher of Teachers
When I see the principals from different parts of the country, I look at you dear friends, as one integrated system of education, system of learning and system of knowledge. The seeds of peace in the world have their origin in the righteousness in the heart of every individual. Such righteous citizens lead to the evolution of enlightened society.

Education with value system has to be so designed that the righteousness in the heart is developed in young minds. That should be the mission of education. The prime learning environment is five to seventeen years of age for over 25,000 hours. This reminds me of an ancient Greek teacher’s saying, “Give me a child for seven years; afterwards, let God or devil take the child. They cannot change the child“. This indicates the power of great teachers and teacher of teachers. True education is the acquisition of enlightened feelings and enlightened powers to understand daily events and to understand the permanent truth by linking citizen, to his environment, human and planetary.

I would like to quote from the great philosopher Dr. S. Radhakrishnan particularly for the benefit of students and teachers - “The sense of human need is there and the teacher can satisfy it by giving to the youth an idea of the fundamental power and worth of man, his spiritual dignity as man, a supra-national culture and an all embracing humanity.”

Let us now hear the tribute given by the great teacher Albert Einstein to his teacher: “The ideals which have lighted my way, time after time, have given new course to face life cheerfully have been kindness, beauty and truth”. This is the mission of teacher. By nature if the student has studied in a particular school they cherish the memories. For example, in the institution the teacher belongs, have created 100s and 1000s of alumni depending upon the school strength. The successful alumni remembers the school with veneration and desires to give back. The schools need to create an opportunity, like IIT and other institutions.

Teachers who love teaching
I just see a scene in a school having about 50 teachers and 750 students headed by a Principal. It is simply a place of beauty for creativity and learning. How is it possible? It is because the school management and the Principal selected the teachers who love teaching, who treat the students as their sons, daughters, grand-sons or grand-daughters. The children see the teacher, as a role model in teaching and how always they look pious through their daily way of life. Above all I see an environment in which there is nothing like a good student, average student or poor student. The whole school and teacher system is involved in generating students who perform the best. As an example, I recall my teacher Shri Sivasubramania Iyer who taught me, when I was ten year old boy, how the birds fly, in the class room and later by taking us to the sea shore to give practical example. The way he taught, gave me what to dream in life and what should be the pattern of education which I have to follow. And above all what should be the traits I should possess based on teachers life both inside the class room and in the village. This race of teachers and teacher of teachers should multiply.

Vision for the School
Vision does it reflect a school having a big building, having a big laboratory or having a big infrastructure? Not at all. Great schools will have great teachers who loves teaching and with great vision. The vision should be to make a beautiful school, generating righteous youth, happy youth who are professionally sound and morally upright. Hence, it should generate quality youth who are an asset to the nation. Can the Schools create a Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Nobel Laureate CV Raman, a great mathematician Ramanujan, a great pain remover Mother Theresa, a great economist Amarthya Sen or a Poet Bharathiar? Can we generate the environment needed for promoting the creativity leading to development of such type of personalities by the school?

I visualize a principal in Sahodaya School far away from the city from district headquarters - close to the village panchayats. As soon as the principal takes over the school, Principal has to plan with the assumption that he is going to be in the school for at least 7 years. Principal has to decide the positive changes that he would like to be bring about for the development of the school into a great institution within that period. Normally people will be discussing the performance of the school in terms of percentage of passes with distinction. 100% will be considered outstanding. 90% very good, 80% good. This is the present method of evaluation of the schools by the parents, by the govt by the management. I feel that there is a need for paradigm shift in thinking in the evaluation process.

According to me, the best school is one where the students complete the school up to 10+2 after 25000 hours of education in the campus. The student has to become full-fledged responsible citizen for the nation who will be able to realize his dreams and not be frightened of any problem. He should be groomed to be physically fit, academically sound with capacities for research and inquiry, innovation, use of high technology, moral and entrepreneurial leadership. He should be emotionally mature and spiritually awakened. For nurturing such an individual, what is the role and what should be the vision of the principals. Principals should have a one line statement of vision “my vision is to give to the student’s all-round capability that is always creative, observant, aim to acquire knowledge continuously leading to the generation of an excellent performer with sterling character built with the unique tradition of the school”. In this process, the education system has to develop the five minds as described in the book “Five Minds” for the future by Howard Gardner.

a) The disciplinary mind: mastery of mind in different schools of thought including science mathematics and history and proficiency in at least one professional craft.
b) The synthesizing mind: ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres into a coherent whole and to communicate to others.
c) The creative mind: capacity to uncover and clarify new problems, questions and phenomenon.
d) The respectful mind: awareness of and application for differences among human beings.
e) The ethical mind: fulfilment of one’s responsibility as a worker and a citizen.

To develop these five minds, one need not change the syllabus of the school. The culture of the school and vision of the school and the teacher’s way of life will imbibe these five minds among the students.

Dynamics of Smile
When we see a child, we see the innocent smile of the child. When we come across, the child in the Primary School, the smile is reduced, since the child has to carry a heavy school bag. When we see the child in their teens, their smile slowly fades away and the sign of concern appears. This is because of the anxiety about the future. When they complete their education, the question uppermost in their mind is, what will I do after my education? Will I get an employment? Will I get a proper employment? Can the Principals see this dynamics of smiles of the child and preserve the smile in their faces when they complete their school education. The Student should be confident that “he can do it”, the student should have the self esteem and the capability to become an employment generator rather being an employment seeker. This transformation can only be brought about by a Principal who has a vision to transform, who has the ability to take risk against all challenges, who is a good listener, who is a good innovator, who maintains a cordial inter-personal or intrapersonal relationship and who has the ability to carry the parents, community, media and the teachers for accomplishing the vision of generating an enlightened citizen for the nation. Now let me share my views of an ideal principal.

An ideal principal
Some time back, I met a principal who have become a role model to all his students. I asked the Principal what was the secret of his success. He told me the following:
a) He has been able to adopt himself to the age of the student.
b) As a principal, he makes sure that he also takes two to three classes per week.
c) He considers that he is a teacher first and a principal later.
d) He practices everything he expects his students to do. His real life itself is a medium to the students.
e) He ensures transparency in all his transactions and treats all students alike, irrespective of their religion, caste, language and economic status.
f) He has a foresight and visualizes the student’s growth in long term perspective.
g) During the 11 years of his tenure, he has ensured that at least 2000 students who were average performers have been groomed to excel in their studies.

I am sure many principals assembled here would reflect these characteristics and also add few more important traits.

Let me now discuss with you about the importance of Knowledge.

Knowledge and its components
Principals have to consider at the end of the education what the students will be carrying with them. They should carry knowledge. Knowledge has three components, creativity, righteousness and courage. That the combination of these characteristics can generate enlightened citizens. Let us look at the first component creativity:

“Learning gives creativity
Creativity leads to thinking
Thinking provides knowledge
Knowledge makes you great”

The next component of knowledge is righteousness. The power of Righteousness is described in a divine hymn, which is as follows:

“Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home.
There is order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world.”

Who will give the righteousness, only three people can give. Who are they? They are: Father, Mother and a primary school teacher.

The third component is courage, which is defined as follows:

“Courage to think different,
Courage to invent,
Courage to travel into an unexplored path,
Courage to discover the impossible,
Courage to combat the problems
And Succeed, Are the unique qualities of the youth.
As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all the missions.”

As Principals, you have to ensure that the system instils the courage in the minds of students. Hence friends, now you realize, knowledge is equal to creativity + righteousness + Courage. Now the Principals may like to see, how they can impart real knowledge among the students.

Mission in Life

Dear friends, when I visualize the students whom you are grooming, I see in them great teachers, great principals great doctors, great engineers, great social workers, great judges, and great political leaders. Let me share with you, what are the traits needed to accomplish these goals based on my experience.

I have seen three dreams which have taken shape as vision, mission and realization. Firstly, space programme of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), AGNI programme of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) becoming the National Mission. Of course these three programmes succeeded in the midst of many challenges and problems. I have worked in these areas. I want to convey to you what I have learnt from these three programmes based on my personal experience.

a) Wherever there is a dream in life, that transforms into a vision and vision takes shape as many missions.
b) The necessity of high level thinking to transform the Vision into Missions.
c) Acquisition of knowledge from all sources.
d) Working and working without boundary conditions till the realization of the mission.
e) Leader absorbs the failure and takes the responsibility and gives the credit for success to his team while executing the Mission.

I am sure, the principals assembled here will create leaders with these qualities from their schools which will be the greatest contribution of the principals in our national development missions.

I have designed an eleven point oath for the teachers which I would like to administer to this important gathering of teachers of teachers.

Eleven Point Oath for Teachers

1. First and foremost, I will love teaching. Teaching will be my soul.
2. I realize that I am responsible for shaping not just students but ignited youths who are the most powerful resource under the earth, on the earth and above the earth. I will be fully committed for the great mission of teaching.
3. I will consider myself to be a great teacher for I can lift the average to the best performance by way of my special teaching.
4. All my actions with my students will be with kindness and affection like a mother, sister, father or brother.
5. I will organize and conduct my life, in such a way that my life itself is a message for my students.
6. I will encourage my students to ask questions and develop the spirit of enquiry, so that they blossom into creative enlightened citizens.
7. I will treat all the students equally and will not support any differentiation on account of religion, community or language.
8. I will continuously build the capacities in teaching so that I can impart quality education to my students.
9. I will celebrate the success of my students, with great élan.
10. I realize by being a teacher, I am making an important contribution to all the national development initiatives.
11. I will constantly Endeavour to fill my mind, with great thoughts and spread the nobility in thinking and action.

My greetings to all the members of Sahodaya community. I would suggest the Principals of Sahodaya Schools to adopt at least one government school in the region and provide them with quality education using the technological infrastructure and quality human resource during the off time or holidays of the school. My best wishes to all of you for success in your mission of developing enlightened citizens for the nation through good educational practices.

May God Bless You!

APJ Abdul Kalam