SHARJAH // The former president of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, addressed a gathering of 1,600 teachers and students at Delhi Private School in Sharjah yesterday.
Speaking at the school's 10th anniversary celebration, the former president told the crowd to take inspiration from the Emirati leaders who had transformed the desert into an economically developed nation.
Referring to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, Dr Kalam said: "You do not need to go across the oceans and mountains to find an example of a great teacher. You have a fine example for your children here on how one man's vision changed a desert into a beautiful human habitat."
Dr Kalam said India was striving to develop its human capital to meet similar aims.
"It is not the Indian ambition to become a superpower but to be an economically developed nation," he said.
"We have to accelerate our development in education and that will make a big difference."
Dr Kalam was invited to speak at the event to motivate students to work towards the betterment of their country.
He told students: "I have met 11 million youth in a decade's time and every one of them says they want to be unique. But the world around you is doing its best to make you like everybody else."
He said a teacher's primary mission is to bring out the best in a student.
Vandana Marwaha, the school's principal, said Dr Kalam's appearance reinforced the values of the institution.
An offshoot of the Delhi Public School, which is located in India, the Sharjah campus has a student body of around 5,000. The school's Dubai branch boast a student body of approximately the same size.
Jyothika Nair, a grade-11 student at the school in Sharjah, said Dr Kalam's speech was inspiring.
"I think we all have lapped up his every word of wisdom and will try incorporating them in our lives too," she said.
Last night, the former president addressed a gathering of 7,000 parents of students, dignitaries from the Indian community and government officials at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The former president will visit various educational institutions during his stay in the UAE.