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APJ Abdul Kalam: The Connoisseur of Education

One of the key determinants of a progressive society is the role of educational systems and their approach to imparting value-based teachings. During our formative years, we have all been told stories, anecdotes, and life lessons of many legendary educators, reformers, and torchbearers who have created ripples in the tapestry of our thought processes. A national legend who will always remain very close to my heart and be a source of incessant inspiration is Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

Dr. Kalam espoused the empowering impact of educational practices on our society, focusing on holistic learning and enabling children to cultivate self-awareness and self-belief. Through his early encounters with hardship during his childhood, the ‘Missile Man of India’ was being truly forged. A native of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, he came from a modest and humble background and sold newspapers at a very young age to make ends meet. However, his insatiable desire for education drove him to relentlessly pursue his dreams, culminating in his successful completion of Aerospace Engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology. 

In his book ‘Ignited Minds,’ Dr. Kalam reminisced about the contributions of various people who inspired him to envision a sustainable and prosperous future for our country.

Holding the office of the President, Dr. Kalam was a living example of integrity and perseverance. He successfully bolstered India’s Defense Forces with the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. Dr. Kalam was conferred with national awards of the highest merit, including the Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Bharat Ratna, Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, Veer Savarkar Award, and many more.

For me, Dr. Kalam is a visible embodiment of a path-breaking vision in the realm of education. His ideas and perspectives on teaching as a profession and the profound impact of teachers on a school’s ecosystem are exemplary. His vision of teaching students to hone their core competencies and nation-building capacity is the cornerstone of a school’s philosophy and mission. Dr. Kalam had impeccable insights on the role of schools in shaping the future of the nation. The love and respect he conferred upon the teaching fraternity will always remain memorable. I reminisce about Dr. Kalam’s powerful words, 

‘The purpose of education is to make good human beings with skill and expertise…. Enlightened human beings can be created by teachers.’ Holding a responsible chair, I have always tried to personify these words in my daily school life and routine.

Shaping ideal citizens for the nation

Dr. Kalam believed that a robust value system, anchored in basic human values, should be central to every child's education. He emphasized fostering a scientific temperament in the younger generation, refurbishing learning concepts with technology-driven ideas. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of cultivating leadership traits in each student. Dr. Kalam passionately advocated for school administrations across the nation to prioritize providing basic educational facilities and investing in Information and Technology according to their capacity and merit. His most cherished goal in education was to create a society that reveres education as a revolutionary phenomenon and charts a clear roadmap for every budding student.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was a modernist philosopher in distinct ways, envisioning defining pathways for educational reforms in our society. With profound affection for children and a passion for building a strong foundation for our nation’s future, he implemented remarkably empowering and pragmatic ideas. He believed in encouraging the education system to cultivate character and ethics in students, proposing improvements in creativity and inclinations toward scientific research. Dr. Kalam advocated for Planning Good School Education in Villages and ensuring basic amenities with good ventilation, lighting, and hygiene facilities in schools. His most reformist view was to provide equitable education to all strata of society in urban and rural settings, regardless of economic or social background.

His impact on education

His pioneering ideas of combining educational facilities with technological innovations led to the inception of Technology-Enhanced Learning Solutions, including Digital Libraries and Tele-Education Delivery Systems through virtual classes. For geographically inaccessible areas, Remote Learning Solutions proved greatly beneficial. Dr. Kalam also propagated the idea of skill-based education, empowering children with academic knowledge and skills to pursue their interests.

The concept of skill-based learning integrated with academic curricula and educational practices promoting socio-cultural awareness promises a bright future for our children. In line with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam's vision, today’s education system must reassess teaching paradigms, offering inclusive learning opportunities with effective leadership to navigate challenges. Educational institutions need introspection to understand their situation for a healthy and effective teaching process promoting holistic development in children. A sincere assessment of practices is essential to identify areas requiring improvement, including teaching tools, faculty inception processes, teacher-student relationships, and general teaching atmospheres fostering student participation.

Dr. Kalam’s stupendous contributions as an educator will always be overwhelming. His connection with students has been a shining example of his sacrosanct position in the education fraternity. His tall order of insights and perspectives as an educator will keep illuminating the pathways of our younger generation. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s illustrious career and life story as a revered Indian citizen will be cherished in the annals of history perpetually.

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