Due to the need to balance the two, many wishes of "ministers and chief ministers" cannot be turned into reality, Mukherjee said.
The president made the observation between the will to "do a lot" and the available resources at a function celebrating 125 years of the Ghatal Vidyasagar High School in West Midnapore district.
Mukherjee referred to a special fund he had created in the Planning Commission to help educational institutions when he was deputy chairperson of the commission between 1991 and 1996.
"I had then created a special fund of the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, from which during my five-year tenure I helped a lot of educational institutions," he recalled.
"Because from my long tenure in government work, I know there is lot of gap between our will and means in the government," the president said.
"Ministers, chief ministers may wish to do a lot, but they cannot implement them in practice as we have to strike a balance between our wishes and means," Mukherjee said in a seven-minute extempore speech in Bengali.
The president recalled that he had requested the Planning Commission to help the school during its 125th year celebrations in 2007.
"I could not come here on the 125th anniversary of the school, but requested the Planning Commission to help on the occasion. I thank the Planning Commission for its help," he said.
Remembering his days in the teaching profession, Mukherjee said the facilities available to teachers now were unimaginable earlier.
"I was myself a teacher, I have taught for a long time. I have not forgotten those days as a teacher. So, I know under what conditions the country's teachers - be it the primary, secondary or at higher levels - had to discharge their duties."
"The facilities available today were unimaginable in those days," he said,
Mukherjee paid tributes to the contribution of scholar Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, after whom the school is named, in spreading modern education.
The 19th century scholar helped in establishing the school in 1882.
"Vidyasagar was the first Indian after Raja Rammohan Roy to realise that without massive spread of modern education, one cannot learn to respect one's heritage, nor can a modern society be formed."
"Today, there are lot of discussions centred around evaluation of Vidyasagar. But I recall that Tagore once said it was beyond Bengalis to measure his enormous talent," he said.
The president lauded the efforts of individuals and private bodies in spreading education under the British rule, and said the "alien" rulers had introduced English education as they needed clerks to run the empire.
"In undivided Bengal, private initiatives were in majority in establishing educational institutions. Because the alien government did not aim at nurturing Indian education and culture. They had come for trade. They were compelled to start English education because they needed clerks to run the empire," he said.
"But exploiting the education system established by them (the British), there sprung people who ushered in the renaissance in Bengal and helped in spreading the renaissance across India," he added.
--IANS (Posted on 15-09-2013)