“Perpetual creation should be the motive force for all educational institutions”

Describing Visva-Bharati University set up by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore as a “unique institution”, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday emphasised that by stressing on a uniform structure and pattern for different kinds of institutes in higher education it may not be not be possible to do justice to all of them.

Addressing the annual convocation of the University at Santiniketan in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, he quoted Tagore’s views on the setting up of Visva-Bharati: “…Our task is not a perpetual repetition of a planned perfection for one and all. This institution should be a perpetual creation by cooperative enthusiasm of teachers and students.”

“This perpetual creation should be the motive force for all educational institutions,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Stating that knowledge is “constant, expansive and infinite”, he said that it can neither be confined within the four walls nor set in one pattern or one structure.

The President made the comments after putting forth a question whether it is necessary for the VBU to be just one of 43 Central universities, to which he is the Visitor, or is it necessary for the institution to “preserve its heritage” and make an “exception in the framework of higher education”.

Mr. Mukherjee said that Tagore was against “traditionalism” or any “conservatism” that would result in a straitjacket formula. He stressed on the institutions having a “soul” and “core values” and should not always be considered as “inanimate objects”.

“If we recognise Visva-Bharati as an unique institution we shall have to provide adequate flexibility in our system.. If it is not there we must rediscover and reinvent it...” he said.

The thoughts on the education of three eminent Indians — Aurobindo Ghosh, Mahatma Gandhi and Tagore — were linked to nature, the President said, adding that they recognised “the more distant we make ourselves from nature the more problems we create for us”.

“Nature is the greatest teacher.. from the beginning of civilisation we have drawn lessons from it and we must re-establish it,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Referring to the fact that the Prime Minister is the Chancellor of only one University in the country -Visva-Bharati, he said it not mere accident and recalled the intense debate in the Parliament when the University Act was passed in 1951.

Quoting Jawaharlal Nehru on the issue, Mr. Mukherjee said, “Being Chancellor of Visva-Bharati will nor demean the prestige of the Prime Minister ... it will enhance the prestige and dignity of Prime Minister of India.”

‘Make education accessible’

ANI reports from Jangipur, West Bengal:

President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday inaugurated the B. Ed. Course of Aligarh Muslim University at the Murshidabad Centre in Jangipur. “The AMU Centre at Murshidabad was started to carry forward the glorious legacy of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, an icon of India’s modern education and founder of the Aligarh Muslim University. Its inception represented a commitment to the nation to fight the scourge of educational backwardness and social deprivation,” the President said, adding: “Since then, the Centre has fulfilled the long cherished educational aspirations of the people of the region. It has also helped in increasing the potential of the youth to enter into rewarding careers.”

He expressed the hope that it would contribute, in no small measure, to the attainment of the national goal of equity, access and inclusion in education.

Mr. Mukherjee said greater access to higher education, especially in remote areas, was the need of the hour. Accessibility and affordability were necessary for inclusion and to make higher education affordable for meritorious students belonging to socio-economically difficult backgrounds, measures such as scholarships, student loans and self-help schemes were necessary, he added. “An inclusive education will not only improve the enrolment rate in higher education but also enhance the quality of graduates produced by the system.”

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