Education raises the level of consciousness by bringing change in the personality and attitude of a person and sensitizing individuals to the larger social needs and issues. Laski says “The citizen who lacks education is bound to be slave of others… He will go through life a stunted being whose impulses have never been ordered by reason into creative experiment.” It is considered as the only way for raising the status and for the progress of the society. In spite of the incorporation of right to education in the Indian constitution, universal primary education is still a distant cry even after many decades of independence. The disparity in the level of education between rural and urban areas is a not an uncommon phenomenon.
As per the census enumeration of 2001, rural Muslim population in Manipur figures 1, 35,494 (71 percent) out of the total Muslim population in the state i.e. 1, 90,939. Muslims lag behind other communities in education to a significant extent. The literacy rate of Muslims is 58.6 percent (male 75 percent and female 41.6 percent) much below the state’s average of 70.5 percent (male 80.3 percent and female 60.5 percent). Though Muslim population is densely concentrated in rural areas, the literacy rate of the rural population is quite low compare to urban areas. In the urban areas, the literacy rate of Muslim male and female are 82.2 percent and 51 percent respectively, while in the rural areas 72.1 percent and 37.7 percent respectively. The number of literates and literacy rate in Manipur for the Muslim population and the state as a whole according to the 2001 census is given below.
The educational status of Muslims in rural areas is in alarming condition. Though all the villages are provided with primary schools, yet the village people are not getting the satisfactory benefits from them due to various reasons. These schools are suffering from inadequate teaching staff, lack of proper school building and insufficiency of teaching aids etc. Most of the school buildings offer only one or two rooms to accommodate all the classes. The teachers are also irregular. There are complaints from the guardians about the irregularity of teachers. On the other hand the teachers alleged that because of overcrowding of students it is a hectic task for them to maintain peace and silence in the classes. Most of the primary schools suffer from proper educational atmosphere and other necessary educational facilities.
There is a sharp difference between rural and urban Muslim students in quality of schooling. Because of ineffective and in efficient functioning of the schools, there is more dependence on private tuitions and coaching institutes as additional learning institutions in urban areas. Most of the Muslim students in rural areas have vernacular language as medium of education which make difficult for these students to compete with English medium students of urban areas. Such differences create a widening gap among Muslim students based on region and economic status.