According to a Planning Commission report, a shocking 90% of Muslim students drop out by the time they reach high school. Only 1% of Muslim women and 3.4% of men in urban areas are graduates. In rural areas, only 0.7% of Muslim men are graduates; there are too few women graduates to even register on a survey
The Planning Commission of India has drawn up an ambitious action plan for improving education indices among Muslims. The plan includes more government schools and monetary incentives. Recent surveys, including one by the commission itself, have given the government a dismal report card for the provision of access to education by Muslims.
The Planning Commission’s action plan, which is expected to cost around Rs 6,000 crore, includes:
* More government schools for Muslims, to be set up in 104 districts across the country where Muslim populations are higher than 25% of the total population.
* Scholarships for all Muslim girls regardless of the economic background of their families. The amount is likely to be Rs 1,000 a month.
* Scholarships will be awarded to boys as well but only those who come from economically underprivileged backgrounds.
* The setting up of hostels for Muslim boys and girls. The group feels that girls living at home are subject to pressure to do housework or get married. Similar hostels for members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have proved successful.
* Incentives for institutes of higher education; Rs 10,000 for every Muslim graduate.
Though a sub-group of the Planning Commission has recommended more government schools, there will be no pressure on parents to move children out of madrasas and into ordinary schools. In any case, the commission says, it is a misconception that a vast majority of Muslim children study in madrasas — currently, only between 1-3% of children are students at madrasas.
The group suggested introducing computers in religious schools and five hours of computer science, English, mathematics and science a week, as part of the curriculum at madrasas.
While the plan panel’s report strongly recommends the de-ghettoisation of Muslims through the mainstreaming of education at madrasas, it makes no case for reservations for Muslims in education. Quotas are not the only solution to the problem of Muslims’ access to education, says Farha Naqvi, a member of the Planning Commission sub-group. She says: “Our survey has shown that it is more an infrastructural, supply-side problem. The quota issue has become so politicised that we decided we could help Muslims in so many other ways. We didn’t need to get diverted from the issue at hand by the reservations controversy.”
According to the Planning Commission report, a shocking 90% of Muslim students drop out by the time they reach high school. Only 1% of Muslim women and 3.4% of men in urban areas are graduates. In rural areas, only 0.7% of Muslim men are graduates; women graduates are too few in number to even register on a survey.
Across the country, the Muslim literacy rate is 59.1% compared to the national average of 64.8%. In fact, the soon-to-be-released Sachar report has found that Muslims fare much worse than even scheduled castes and scheduled tribes — perceived to be India’s most marginalised socio-economic group — across the country.
Also, contrary to popular perception, the problem is more one of access than a cultural one. The Planning Commission report found that even though many Muslim parents do want to send their children to government schools rather than send them to madrasas, surveys and complaints to Waqf boards show that there are too few government schools in Muslim-dominated areas.
Another area of concern is that the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education For All) which has been successful in many parts of India, has not been properly implemented in Muslim areas.
Source: www.ndtv.com, November 5, 2006