Here is the transcript of the speech of Union HRD Minister, Smriti Irani -
"Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau: Devotion to a teacher as to God.
The first expression of faith in teachers is found in Shwetashwatar Upanishad thousands of years back, testimony to our tradition of veneration of teachers. The teacher was not just venerated, but was also a friend who strove to bring about our well-being - Guruwe Kalyan Mitra "“as expounded in Mahayan Buddhism. Indeed, the teacher as one who selflessly dedicates herself or himself to helping shape minds towards enlightenment has been a role that great seers have preferred over their own personal salvation. And this tradition of honouring the teacher was in fact indifferent to gender, creed and class, the most famous example of which was Gargi the famous woman intellectual of the Upanihadic age who defeated Yagyavalka in debate.
So in honouring teachers today, in awarding those who have excelled as teachers, we continue our timeless and tireless commitment to the highest values of self-less knowledge seeking and the liberation of the mind from narrow pursuit of egoistic interests towards universal well-being.
Teaching is leaving a vestige of oneself in the development of another. The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes."¨A teacher's purpose is not to create students in her own image, but to develop students who can create their own image. This is why what the teacher is, is more important than what she or he teaches. You do not simply graduate students, you graduate lives, and you build the character of a whole civilization.
This is why it is important to foster a culture of holistic knowledge and move away from fragmented facticity that proliferate information but makes knowledge reductionistic and simplistic and wisdom almost rare. I feel that the most accomplished scholars should teach the youngest students since this is when the foundations of their professional knowledge are built and when the students learn to appreciate the most important elements of the body of knowledge of their discipline and appreciate inter-disciplinarity.
The school is the first formal socializing experience of the child. Schools reflect deeply embedded cultural beliefs.
The teacher then has an impact on young lives beyond even the parents and so far, greater responsibilities as they have to be sensitive to the children's natural learning processes, to their home backgrounds, their individual differences, social, linguistic and gender diversity in classroom while fostering meaningful and purposeful ways of engagement.
If our teacher is not a few steps ahead of time, the society will not be ahead," our Hon'ble Prime Minister said just yesterday. He has often highlighted the fact that the modern day medium of growth is connectivity. The use of ICT in teaching has the potential to change teaching in a major way. Knowledge becomes freely available so the teacher's efforts are well supplemented by the ICT resources. In this direction, I am happy to announce that we will soon be launching the National E-Library that will make learning resources available to everyone in and will enrich the world of imagination and scholarship for those in remote and deprived areas. This will also enable our teachers to learn continuously even as they teach. In fact an educated society is one where we all form a learning collectivity.
I would also urge our teachers to dedicate time to engage increasingly with research activities. This is important as part of the formal learning continuum and the foundation of good teaching. It equips our knowledge systems to be competitive internationally and transforms learning and scholarship into productive investments into the larger societal good.
Research is also a culture of enquiry and freedom to explore and question. Asking questions in our culture is more important than finding answers. Critical reasoning and fearless interrogation are pre requisites to our democracy and the school is the most important site of learning that fosters these qualities. Teachers play a role in this by encouraging the students to innovate, to take the risk inherent in creative questioning and challenging the given borders of knowledge. They need to provide communicative spaces for dialogue, openness and sharing based on mutual respect, both in the form of teacher"“child and child "“ child communicate. Moving away from hierarchies of age and roles, we should elicit creative responses from the students encouraging them to share their experiences in their own language and use their experiences as resources in learning.
Interactive pedagogies, projects with communities, context based learning transcending the text, peer learning, are some exciting developments which are being driven by the teachers and I acknowledge their efforts of this special day. Their efforts will make our educational institutions welcoming, caring and emotionally safe with a non- threatening, non-discriminatory non-exclusionary classroom environment.
Importantly, there are no prescriptions for success. To be effective, solutions must be developed locally, not by "specialists" who sit far outside classroom and school walls, but by teachers and practitioners. We must not be afraid of the mess of change for real improvement to occur. Often the next big achievement comes out of such creative disequilibrium!
I appeal to all our awardee teachers to share with us through simple documentation how they made a change in the closely nested systems of activities in the classroom and the community.
In this function, we honour a select few teachers for their outstanding contributions to teaching and research. Given the number of outstanding teachers in this vast country, I am well aware what a privilege it is to be honour by the President today. I congratulate all the award winners for their achievements and I offer my best wishes for their continued success. I also thank the entire teaching community in our country for their dedicated and self-less service".