India: a force for public education is remembered in moving ceremony

published 2 December 2014 updated 3 December 2014

Those who knew Sh. S. Eswaran, a teachers’ union leader and advocate for children’s rights, paid respects to the man who dedicated most of his life working to empower others through quality, public education.

Teachers from all over India traveled to Delhi to pay their respects to Sh. S. Eswaran, General Secretary of the All India Primary Teachers' Federation (AIPTF) and Vice President of Education International (EI), who passed away on 20 Oct at the age of 76. During a ceremony at the AIPTF Headquartersthat took place over two days, 30 Nov. and 1 Dec., many conveyed their condolences to Eswaran's family, while a photograph was unveiledin remembrance of the union's leaderby EI's General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

Sh. Jagdambika Pal, Member of Parliament for the BJP Party stressed the important role Eswaran played in unifying the teaching profession of India, and recalled his successful efforts in rallying wide political support in the country for achieving the right to education.

Van Leeuwen commemorated Eswaran's inspirational leadership in enhancing teachers' rights and professional status in India and the Asian-Pacific region."His commitment to improving the lives and opportunities of underprivileged, disadvantaged marginalized children was paramount in all that he did," said the EI General Secretary during his remarks. "He was not hampered by culturalbarriers and didn't hesitate to champion causes, or challenge practices and biases."

Shashi Bala Singh, Chief Regional Coordinator of EI for the Asian Pacific region, who was a long time AIPTF activist, praised her mentor's "honesty, modesty and straightforwardness, as well as his principled stance on women's rights and equity in general".

Mr R. Rangarajan, President of Eswaran's mother's organisation, the Tamilnadu Elementary Teachers' Federation, said that the union has decided to soon establish a scholarship program and library in Sh. S. Eswaran's name.

Sh Ram Pal Singh, President of the AIPTF, personally addressed Eswaran's wife and children attending the ceremony, thanking them for having shared a husband and a father, enabling Eswaran to make such a great contribution to the future of children and teachers of India.