Every year since 2008, India has been celebrating November 11th as National Education Day in the honour of India’s First Education Minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Different kinds of campaigns and programmes are organised at different schools, colleges, universities and other institutes around the country to mark the celebration of the day.

Maulana Abul Kalam was born on November 11, 1888, and one of the most acclaimed freedom fighters and a great educationist. He was appointed as the first education minister post-independence. As a result, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had decided on September 11, 2008, to celebrate November 11 as National Education Day every year.

On the occasion of his 131st birthday, here are some of the most interesting facts that you should know about the first education minister of India.

1. After the Independence of India from the British Rule, the constitution of India was established and India became a Republic in 1950. Consequently, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad became the first Education Minister of India.

2. He served as India’s First Minister of Education in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet from 1947 to 1958. Since the day India got independence, he was determined to set up institutes across India which as he believed that education is the fundamental block of growth of human civilisation.

3. His complete name was – Maulana Sayyid Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad.

4. Maulana Azad settled in Calcutta with his family in 1890. Azad was home-schooled and was formerly taught by his father. However, after a while, his father appointed a famous teacher in his area to educate him at home only. He was a self-taught aspirant.

5. Azad was a master of several Indian languages, including Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and foreign languages like Persian, Arabic, and English. He was well trained in Mazahibs of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali fiqh, Shariat.

6. from this, he was good at mathematics, philosophy, world history, and science by tutors hired by his family. Azad used to run a library, a reading room, and a debating society and he managed to do all of this by the age of twelve years only.

7. Also wanted to write on the life of Ghazali at such a young age. By the time he was 14, he started contributing learned articles for Makhzan (a literary magazine).

8. Azad was so brilliant at the educational curriculum that, at the age of 15, he used to take tuitions of students who were twice his age.

9. By the time he was sixteen, he had completed the traditional course of study. He was already nine years ahead of his contemporaries. Not only this, he started his magazine at the same age.

10. Maulana Azad was merely 35 years old when he became the president of the Indian National Congress, the youngest president the party ever had.

11. Apart from being a great educationist, Azad used to write poems in Urdu. He is often remembered by the name ‘Warrior with a Pen’.

12. He was fond of literature and had learned Arabic and Persian. He also studied philosophy, geometry, mathematics and algebra. Apart from this, he learned the English language, history of the world and politics, all by himself.

13. After he met Bengal’s two leading revolutionaries Arvind Ghosh and Shri Shyam Sundar Chakraborty, he joined the revolutionary movement against British rule. Within two years, he set up secret revolutionary centres across North India and Bombay.

14. In 1912, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad started a weekly Urdu newspaper called ‘Al-Hilal’ to increase the feeling of patriotism among Muslims.

15. For his contribution in the fight for freedom from British rule and fostering education in India, Abul Kalam has been awarded Bharat Ratna in 1992, India’s Highest Civilian Award.

16. Under his guidance, the Central Institute of Education, Delhi was established. It was a research centre set up for solving educational problems of the newly independent India.

17. It was under his leadership, the Ministry of Education established the first Indian Institute of Technology in 1951 and the University Grants Commission in 1953.

18. It was him who first took the initiative to develop the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Faculty of Technology of the Delhi University. If someone is credible for the development of IITs in India, it’s him.

19. Apart from this, he was the person behind the establishment of the School of Architecture and Planning. The modern-day IITs were the brainchild of Mulana Abul Kalam. He founded the Sangeet Natak Akademi (1953), Sahitya Akademi (1954) and Lalit Kala Akademi (1954) to promote education and culture in the country.

20. He is also the one behind the establishment of several higher educational institutions. He was so dedicated to education that he worked for free to promote it.

21. He died due to a heart attack on 22 February 1958.

Even after more than 60 years of his demise, he is remembered as the key person behind the modern education of India for his efforts towards developing the Indian education system post-independence.