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Nikita Parmar

Updated on 22nd July, 2024 , 5 min read

The Legacy of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: The First Education Minister of India

First Education Minister of India: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was the first education minister of independent India,and his birthday, 11 November, is celebrated as National Education Day. An advocate for education, a freedom fighter, a politician, and a journalist, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. When it comes to India's education, he left behind a great legacy over his more than four decades in the eye of the public. He was incredibly intelligent, and his life was dedicated towards the advancement of education. He believed that there is nothing more important than education itself.

First Education Minister of India

First Education Minister of India: Maulana Azad Biography


Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad (Maulana Azad)


11th November 1888

Mecca, Hejaz (Saudi Arabia)


22nd February 1958 

Delhi, India


Even though Maulana Azad was self-taught, he had fluency in Arabic as a first language, as well as several other languages including Bengali, Hindi, Persian, and English.  He was also trained in the Mazahibs of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali fiqh, Shariat, Mathematics, Philosophy, World History, and Science.

Early Life

Azad began his journey as a journalist. In 1905 he participated in revolutionary activities, to which he was introduced by the prominent Hindu revolutionaries Aurobindo Ghosh and Shyam Sundar Chakravarty. 1908, he travelled to Turkey, Syria, France and Egypt where he met several revolutionaries and became a fierce critic of both the British government and Muslim politicians.

Indian National Congress

He joined the Indian National Congress in 1920 and supported the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was chosen to serve as the All India Khilafat Committee's president as well. Shortly after that, he became the youngest President of the Indian National Congress in the year 1923. Azad presided over the Delhi Unity Conference in 1924 and used his authority to push for the union of the Khilafat and Swarajist leaders under the Congress's unified flag.

First Education Minister of India

As the first education minister of India from 1947 to 1958, Maulana Azad brought the following reforms: 

Free and compulsory primary education for all children up to the age of 14 as he believed everyone deserved the basic right to Education.

Maulana Azad created the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi in 1935 and helped found the IITs, IISc, and the School of Planning and Architecture.

He also contributed to the emergence of additional educational institutions and was a crucial figure in the creation of India's higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission.

Books written by Maulana Azad

India Wins Freedom, Tazkirah, Ghubar-e- Khatir, Tarjuman Al- Quran, 

Awards Received 

Bharat Ratna (1992)

First Education Minister of India: Education In India before Independence

The British Government made an effort to limit higher education only to students living in wealthy households. Again, this was done for political purposes rather than in the interests of high-quality education. Rules were created with the intention of limiting the spread of education generally and among the less fortunate students in particular. 

There were strict and numerous requirements for grants to be recognised, and failure to do so had dire repercussions.  Given the circumstances of the lessons that were taking place in schools, the fee increases were unusual. It was also argued that the minimal fee would put disadvantaged students through significant difficulty.  There was a predetermined charge in addition to a timetable, printed books, etc. Regular school attendance was required, which was a challenge for children from rural households. These regulations unquestionably had the effect of preventing the significant growth of schooling that would have occurred.

First Education Minister of India: Education In India Post Independence

It was difficult to deny Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's perspectives and contributions towards Indian Education. His participation in the Constituent Assembly, which drafted India's constitution, led to his election as the first education minister of India. During Maulana Azad's presidency, a number of initiatives were launched to encourage primary and secondary education, scientific education, the founding of universities and other institutions along with the promotion of research and graduate-level study options.

Maulana Azad established a programme for providing financial assistance to several knowledgeable individuals in the nation who were unable to continue their literary pursuits because of financial hardships while serving in the Education Ministry. Leading and senior poets and journalists in the nation owe the late Maulana their old-age pensions as well.

First Education Minister of India: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's legacy

While Maulana Azad lived a very impactful life, he left behind a great legacy. Referring to him as Mir-i- Karawan (the caravan leader), he was described by Jawaharlal Nehru as "a very bold and gallant person, a finished product of the culture that, in these days, relates to few." Azad was described as "a person of the quality of Plato, Aristotle, and Pythagorus" by Mahatma Gandhi. Multiple reforms were introduced in his association, such as the following: 

Since, Maulana Azad firmly believed in the ability of all religious groups to coexist in harmony and his contributions to India's educational system are unparalleled, his birthday, November 11, is observed as National Education Day.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs of the Central Government of India established the Maulana Azad Education Foundation in 1989 to advance education among the illiterate sectors of society. The Ministry also offers students from minority populations the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad National Fellowship, an integrated five-year fellowship that gives financial support for them to pursue advanced degrees like the M. Phil. and PhD. The Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy, is a sporting honour given by the Indian Republic.

One of the Jamia Millia Islamia's founders and staunchest supporters, he is revered. In Delhi, Azad's grave lies next to the Jama Masjid. The Delhi High Court mandated the renovation and restoration of Maulana Azad's mausoleum in New Delhi as a significant national landmark on November 16, 2005. He received the Bharat Ratna,India's highest civilian honour, posthumously in 1992.

First Education Minister of India: Colleges Named After Maulana Azad

There have been many institutions across India that have been named after Maulana Azad in his honour. Some of them are listed below-


Name of College


Average Placement Package


Jamia Millia Islamia  


INR 4.5 Lakhs


Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi


INR 6.2 Lakhs


Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology in Bhopal


INR 7.5 Lakhs


Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad


INR 2 Lakhs


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad College of Pharmacy, Raipur


INR 4.3 Lakhs


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology in Kolkata


INR 8 Lakhs


The Maulana Azad Centre for Elementary and Social Education (MACESE Delhi University)


INR 12 Lakhs


The Maulana Azad library) Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh


INR 7.8 Lakhs


Maulana Azad College of Arts - Science & Commerce


INR 3 Lakhs


Maulana Azad Institute of Professional Studies, Ujjain


INR 5 Lakhs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who was the first education minister of India?

Ans. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad served as the nation of independent India’s first minister of education.

When was Maulana Azad appointed as education minister of India?

Ans. Maulana Azad was appointed as the first education minister of independent India on 15 August 1947 and he served the position well till 2 February 1958.

When is National Education Day celebrated?

Ans. To honor Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first education minister of India, who was born on November 11, 1888, the nation observes 11th November as National Education Day every year.

What was Maulana Azad’s education?

Ans. Maulana Azad studied at Al- Azhar University in Cairo.

Which Institutions were formed by Maulana Azad?

Ans. During his government, he established the majority of the important cultural and literary institutions that exist today, including the first IIT, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Lalit Kala Academy, the Sahitya Academy, the UGC Sangeet Natak Academy, and the School of Planning and Architecture.

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