The full text of the speech delivered by the PM on Teachers' Day
My dear students and friends from the different schools all over the country and those present in this function.
This is a moment of great happiness for me that I have got an opportunity to interact with children who are carrying dreams of future India in their eyes. Today is Teachers Day. Gradually this inspiring chapter is losing its importance, perhaps there would be many schools where 5th September is not remembered in this form. This has become limited to giving awards to teacher and having ceremonies. Need of the hour is to underline the importance of a teacher in our social life. Till the time we don't accept this importance neither will we feel the honour for a teacher nor be successful in changing the new generation through the medium of teachers. That is why there is a need to update this great tradition and reenergise it.
There is a need for debate on the reasons why many bright students do not want to become teachers. All of us have to find the answer to this question. In a global context, it is believed that there is a great demand for teachers and good teachers are in short supply. India is a young nation. Can't India dream of exporting teachers of high calibre? Can't we instil this desire in the heart of today's children that I will become a great teacher and will contribute in the progress of my country? How to rekindle this feeling. Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan has done a great service to this country. He never used to celebrate his birthday as he insisted that the birthday of a teacher should be observed. This concept of teachers' day is now prevalent in many countries. Ask any great person in the world about the success in the life he or she will definitely tell two things. First this is my mother's contribution and second, my teacher's contribution. We get to hear this from about almost every great personalities. But it holds importance only to the point till we follow it diligently. There was a time when this feeling was there for a teacher. If there was one most respected figure in the entire village, it was the teacher. His word was final. Gradually this situation has changed considerably. However, we can establish it once again.
As a child, you might be having many questions. Many of you must be finding difficult to enjoy holidays and will be eagerly waiting for Monday so that you can go and tell the teacher what all was done on Sunday. Things which can't be told to mother, brother and sister, one feels so eager to tell one's teacher. This is the level of closeness. The same teacher changes his/her life. Teacher's word brings the major change in the life of a student. I know of many students who talk like their teacher, dress like their teacher, he is their hero. This is a stage which needs to be enlivened to strengthen our new generation. There is a saying in China that those who think only for a year, they sow foodgrains, those who thinks for a decade, they plant fruits. But those who thinks for generations, they prepare humans. It means to educate, to imbibe culture and to prepare someone for life. How can we make our education system come alive with a zeal for life building.
I have said on 15th August that I want no school should remain without toilet for girls by the end of this year. A number of schools do not have toilets for girls. Some schools do not have toilets even for boys. Many may feel that this job is not worthy of a Prime Minister. But when I went into details, I found that this is a highly important job. However, for this I need help from every school of the country and all the teachers who are listening, for creating an enabling environment for this. I was there in Japan couple of days ago. An Indian family met me, the wife was Japanese and the husband who was Indian came to me and said that 'I heard your Independence Day speech. You are insisting on cleanliness. There is a rule here in Japan that all of us, teachers and the students, together clean the school. Even the toilets are cleaned collectively. This is part of our character building in our school. Why is it not so in India?' I said that I have to go back and ask mediapeople, otherwise it will run for 24 hours. Once, when I was in Gujarat, there was a programme on TV that was running that school children were cleaning the school. What kind of a school was that, what type of management was this, what teachers, exploitation of children! Anyway, I made light of that event. However, how will we make this a national trait. This can happen.
I call upon the senior people of the country. You may be doctors, lawyers, IAS officers or IPS officers. Can't you identify a school nearby and volunteer to teach there for at least one period after deciding appropriate subject with the school. If every educated Indian volunteer for one period of teaching every week. Howsoever senior an officer, why can't he or she can spend some time once in a week with children and teach them something. Please tell me if we agree that there are problems in the education system like lack of good teachers etc, can't this be rectified. Why can't we convert nation-building into a people's movement? We should align everybody's strength. We are not a country that should be left behind. We can go ahead a great deal. For this our emphasis should be on national character building. There should be collective efforts and this can be done.
As a student you might be having many dreams. I don't believe that situations in life can stop anyone. If the determination is strong, then I believe that youngsters and children of this country have the strength and talent to move forward. Importance of technology is increasing day by day.
I will request all the teachers that if something is needed to be learnt, it should be learnt. We should keep on learning irrespective of our age being 40, 45 or 50. We are living with children who are growing in the age of technology. We should not keep them deprived from this. That will be a social crime. Our efforts should be that our children should be well versed with modern science and technology. The child should get ample opportunity to know the world in this form. This should be our effort.
Sometimes I ask this from children. I want to ask you also a question, will you reply? How many children sweat profusely four times in a day? How many? There is no one? If there is no sports in life, child will not bloom. This is a stage one should enjoy and spare time to sweat at least four times in a day. Will you do that? Are you sure? Your life should not be burdened with TV, books and computer. Life is also beyond these. We must have enjoyment in our lives. How many of you have hobby of reading books outside your curriculum? It seems there is a good number of such children. How many of you like to read autobiographies. It seems there are very few such children. I ask children to read biography of the person whom they like most. By reading biography we come closer to the history. We know the contemporary history by reading about the life of a person. It is not necessary that we should read a particular type of biography only. If someone wants to advance in sports he should read biography of the person from that field. If someone has done well in cinema and you get the chance to read his biography, you must read. If someone has done well in the field of business his biography should be read. It someone has worked as scientist his autobiography should be read. By reading biography we get the chance to come closer to the history and to understand what truth is. We should strive for that. Otherwise, everything is done by Google Guru and you have the habit to go to Google if you have a question. One gets the information but not the knowledge. I have been told some students have questions, I would like to chat with them. Make the atmosphere lighter, there is no need to remain serious. Your teacher might have told you not to put your hand in this manner, don't do this. Have they told? You must follow instructions of your teacher but after leaving this place. Right now, be relaxed, then we will talk.
Again, I want to give you my best wishes. On the Teachers' Day I salute all the teachers and give them my best wishes. Teachers have played a big role in building lives of many like us. I feel indebted for that.
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