Status of Muslims Education in India

Status of Muslims Education in India

Prof. Mohammad Akhtar Siddiqui

 Education of Indian Muslims, of late, seems to have become a matter of serious concern for the educational policy planners of the country as also for some intellectuals of the community who rightly believe that the nation would develop optimally if all its sections are educationally empowered to effectively participate in the process of development and enabled to share the fruit of development and prosperity.

They rather argue, and rightly so, that continued backwardness of a chunk of its population as large as one seventh will be a constant drag on the national economic and socio political development and will also not be in keeping with the democratic principles of social justice, equity and equal opportunity of development for all citizens.  This has repeatedly been highlighted ever since the report of Gopal Singh Committee (1981-1983) first brought to light the startling fact that Muslims in India are educationally and economically most backward, in some parts even worse than the historically backward scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, in the country.

In recent years fresh attention has been paid on education of minorities particularly of Muslims by way of renewal of the Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme; appointment of Sachar Committee by the Prime Minister to study the social, economic and educational status of Muslims; and specific concern expressed by the National Knowledge Commission (2007) in its report towards access of Muslims to education.  An important Committee appointed by the Government of India on higher education reforms under the chairmanship of Prof. Yashpal, however, did not pay any specific attention on educational issues of minorities and on inter group disparities in higher education.   What it did talk of is the issue of access to higher education in general and the need for offering it to all at affordable cost.

With a view to pay more focused attention on the issue, a more systematic approach of first identifying areas of minority concentration has been envisaged during the last few years.  As per Census 2001, 138.19 million Muslims in India accounted for 13.43% population of the country which was enumerated at 1028.61 million persons.  Being the second largest denomination, after Hindus who are 827.58 million or 80.5%, they are the largest minority of the country.  Other important minorities being Christians 24.08 million (2.3%), Sikhs 19.22 million (1.9%), Buddhists 7.95 million (0.82%) and Jains 4.22 million(0.4%).  About 35.7% Muslims live in urban areas of India and 36.92% Muslims survive below poverty line.  Minorities are concentrating in 90 of the 600 odd districts of the country and 70 of these Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs) have Muslim concentration.  However, only 30 percent of the Muslims live in MCDs and the rest are scattered in other districts across the country.

In the following pages an analytical view of the contemporary status of education of Muslims in India as obtained in response to the State actions and some initiatives of the community has been presented. It may be seen that despite the recent state and community based interventions, the task of bringing Muslims at least at par with majority community as well as with other minorities of the country has remained largely un-accomplished.

Literacy

Any discussion on educational development of Muslims or for that matter of any community would remain incomplete without looking at the status of literacy of that community as it is the level of its literacy upon which is built the edifice of its educational development.  In modern civilized society literacy is considered as a right of every citizen and it is accepted as one of the key indicators of human development.  Literacy has a bearing on individual’s productivity and citizenship behaviour and leads to improvement in his earning and better participation in the political process. Literacy, as rightly stressed by Gunar Myrdal in Asian Drama, opens avenues of communication that otherwise remain closed and that it is a pre-requisite for the acquisition of other skills and the development of more rational attitudes.

Census 2001 revealed that literacy rates of Indian Muslims at 59.1% are the lowest among all the major religious groups in the country, besides being much lower than the national literacy rate of 64.84%.  Literacy rates of other communities – Hindus (65.1%), Christians (80.3%), Sikhs (69.4%), Budhists (72.7%) and Jains (94.1%) – are significantly higher than the national literacy rates.  The literacy rate for female Muslims which is as low as 50.1% is not only much worse than their male counterparts who have a literacy rate of 67.6%, but it is also lower than the national female literacy rate of 53.2%.  The status and growth of literacy among Muslims in different parts of the country has not been uniform.  In northern and eastern states their literacy rates have been lower than their all India literacy rates, whereas these rates were somewhat higher in many southern states than their national rate of literacy.  They performed the worst in some states like Haryana (40%), Bihar (42%), Meghalya (42.7%), Jammu & Kashmir(47.5%), Uttar Pradesh (47.8%), Nagaland (48.2%), and Assam (48.4%).  Muslim female literacy rates in these states are still worse.  These are 21.5% in Haryana, 31.5% in Bihar, 33.5% in Nagaland, 34.9% in Jammu & Kashmir, 35.2% in Meghalya, 40.2% in Assam, 40.3% in Uttranchal, 42.7% in Jharkhand and 43.4% in Punjab. It may be noted that 64.3% Muslims live in rural areas.  While literacy rate of all Muslims is 59.1%, the situation is worse for the rural Muslims who are only 52.7% literate and among them rural female literacy rate is much below 50%.  Urban Muslims with 70% literacy rates are much better off than Muslims in rural areas and are also closer to the all India urban literacy rate of 79.9%.  As per the 61st Round of the National Sample Survey, literacy rate among rural Muslim women was 41%.  It is worth noting that Muslims do not always prefer to be literate in Urdu or do not learn in Urdu medium alone as is evident from the fact that against their population of 138.19 million in 2001, only 51.54 million people returned Urdu as their mother tongue and it is also not necessary that all those who returned Urdu as their mother tongue may be Muslims.

An important trend in the development of literacy rates among Muslims and all others noted by Sachar Committee (2006) is that there existed a significant gap between Muslims, SC/STs and all others in the 1960s.  This gap between Muslims and all others decreased to some extent in urban areas but remained the same in the rural areas during the last four decades.  Literacy levels amongst SCs/STs have increased at a faster rate than for other ‘socio-religious categories’.  This enabled them to overtake Muslims at the all India level by the mid -1990s while reducing the gap with ‘all others’.  The SCs/STs have been especially benefited from the affirmative action in indirect ways. However, Muslims on the other hand, have not been able to respond to the challenge of improving their educational status.  Consequently, their gap in literacy vis-à-vis ‘all others’ has increased further particularly since the 1980s.  The estimates based on NSS 61st Round data (2004-05) also clearly show that in recent years the literacy rates for the SC/STs have risen more sharply than for Muslims.

Fresh attempts are being contemplated by involving local community leaders, imams of mosques, teachers, etc. to mobilize unlettered members of the community especially women in rural areas to join literacy classes which have to be fully conscious of their sensibilities.

Elementary Education

Universalization of elementary education with the object to enforce the constitutional principles of ‘social justice’ and ‘equality of opportunity to all’ was first mandated through the directive principles to the State Policy as enshrined in the Article 45 of the Constitution and then through an amendment to the Constitution in terms of Article 21-A in 2003 declaring elementary education as a fundamental right of children which followed the passage of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RCFCE) Act by the Indian Parliament in 2009 and its promulgation from 1st April, 2010.  Appreciable progress has been made during the last few decades in access and enrolment of children in elementary schools in all communities.  Alongside enrolment in schools equally important is school attendance, retention and completion rates and the level of achievement or quality of learning acquired upon completion of schooling.  Enrolment and attendance determine average years of schooling of children upon which in turn depends the benefit they draw from schooling.  Those who remain out of school or are never enrolled, therefore, never enjoy any benefit of schooling.

Table – 1   Distribution of Muslims by level of education in rural-urban areas in 2001 (%)

Illetrate
Literate
Literate Without Education
Below Primary
Primary
Middle
Secondary & above
All Muslims
40.9
59.1
2.7
18.8
17.1
8.9
11.6
Rural Muslims
47.3
52.7
2.7
19.8
15.2
7.6
7.4
Urban Muslims
29.9
70.1
2.5
17.3
20.3
11.2
18.8

Source: Computed from Census 2001 Report

The Census 2001 provides information on literates by their educational level. For enrolment and attendance rates, reference is also made to other sources like NSS data of 55th (1999-2000) and 61st Rounds (2004-05) and the community based DISE data compiled by NUEPA under SSA since 2006-07.  As per the Census 2001 report, 17.1% Muslims had completed primary education which was almost the same as that of all communities’ average level of primary education.  However, only 8.9% of the community members had acquired middle/elementary education which was lower than the all India average of 10.4%. In urban areas Muslims had fared better with 20.3% having completed primary classes and 11.2% having studied upto elementary stage. But their rural counterparts were not as fortunate as only 15.2% of them had studied up to primary classes and only 7.6% had completed middle school. In both the areas, they were far behind the national average of those who attained primary or middle school education. However, comparing the data of the 55th and 61st NSS Rounds the Sachar Committee concluded that between the two rounds (1999-2000 and 2004-05) while an increase has been recorded in enrolment for all socio-religious categories, the increase has been highest among SCs/STs (95%), followed by Muslims (65%). Though this substantial increase has not really changed the relative position of Muslims in terms of rank, the gap between SCs/STs and Muslims has certainly narrowed down which is a positive trend indicative of better attention being paid by the community to the first level of education of their children. The status of children who are currently not attending school includes (i) those who have never attended any school at any time (never-enrolled) and (ii) those who have enrolled but dropped out before completing elementary education (drop-outs).  According to SRI-IMRB Survey- (2005), out of 22.5 million Muslim children in the 6-14 age groups, 9.97% or 2.2 million were out of school (1.2 million boys and 1 million girls). In rural areas, out of school Muslim children constituted 12% of rural Muslim children in the relevant age group and in urban areas this proportion was 7%.   The percentage of out of school Muslim children was the highest in Bihar (28%), followed by Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand (both 14%), West Bengal (11%) and Assam (8.6%). According to another survey conducted by SRI-IMRB in 2009 though the total number of Muslim children in age group 6-13 years has gone up to 24.4 millions the proportion of out of school children has come down to 7.67%. However, this proportion of out of school Muslim children is highest among all social groups and much higher than the all India average of 4.28%. The constraints in Muslim children’s enrolment include parental illiteracy especially that of mothers, non availability of infrastructural facilities within reasonable distance and other socio economic factors. Many economists believe that high incidence of poverty among Muslims (36.9%) is a significant reason for their under enrolment and high dropout.

The latest DISE data (2009) released by NUEPA on enrolment in elementary schools reveals that in 2008-09 out of the total enrolment of 134.38 million children in primary schools, Muslim children were 14.83 million (11.03%).  This is significantly higher than their total enrolment of 9.3% in 2006-07 and 10.49% in 2007-08 in primary schools. At the upper primary stage out of the total enrolment of 53.39 million children in 2008-09 the number of Muslim children was 4.87 million or 9.13% as against 8.54% in 2007-08 and 7.5% in 2006-07. Both levels taken together, their enrolment share in elementary schools was 10.4% in 2008-09 as against 9.95% in 2007-08. However, Muslim enrolment share has been significantly lower than the proportion of their population (deficient by 2.9%) in these years though enrolment of SCs/STs has been consistently much higher than their population due to consistent affirmative actions.

Looking at the male-female educational attainment differential among Muslims, in 2004-05 attainment of Muslim boys in elementary education in urban areas was highest among all religious groups and was above the all religion average attainment. However, it was lowest among urban Muslim girls as well as among boys and girls in rural areas which indicates continued low enrolment and poor completion of elementary education by Muslim girls in both rural and urban areas, even after the massive interventions of SSA and enrolment drives to ensure universal elementary education in both sexes in all communities. This also indicates that the special schemes for boosting girls’ education at elementary stage like, Kastruba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBV) and Mahila Samakhya have not much benefited the Muslim girls. According to the Fatimi Committee Report (2007) out of 1954 KGBVs sanctioned until 2006, 388 were located in blocks with substantial Muslim population. The proportion of elementary educated Muslim boys and girls has however consistently improved during 1993-94 and 2004-05 and interestingly it has gone up at the fastest pace among urban Muslim girls and rural Muslim boys and has been very close to the pace of increase registered by Hindus. The proportion of elementary educated Christian boys and girls however, remains the highest in rural and urban areas.  Dependence of many Muslim children on madrasas for their early education (about 4%) due to non-availability of a primary school in the neighbourhood and, even otherwise lack of access of these children to elementary education has led to under-enrolment and under-attainment of Muslim children in elementary schools.

Referring to the faulty state policy, the National Knowledge Commission (2007) observed that “areas with Muslim majority population have tended to be overlooked in the implementation of government educational schemes. In addition, with a few exceptions, there has been less private initiative in this regard. As a consequence, Muslims as a community could have access to fewer government schools, girls’ schools, and higher education institutions. It is important to rectify this gap and commit adequate public expenditure to ensure that the physical and social infrastructure for schooling is made available. This means that the government should have minority component in all its school development schemes and budget outlays, which should be in proportion to the minority population”. The Commission cautioned the State that “the strategy cannot be based solely on more public resources provided to madrasas for their modernization as 96% of Muslim children do not attend madrasas for schooling. Indeed, if modernization of madrasa education is the only policy for increasing access for Muslim school children for a modernized education, it will only result in their being further isolated.”  The Knowledge Commission also recommended that “emphasis should be on creating enabling conditions for Muslim children in general school system”. It felt that “language is an alienating factor in the education of many school children, particularly among the minorities.” So, there is a need to appoint more teachers for teaching minority languages in government schools to increase intake of children from minority language communities. The Commission also recommended that teachers should be sensitized and instances of discrimination be punished. The Right to Education Act 2009 meant for organizing education of children in the age group of 6-14 years as a fundamental right has substantially addressed these issues as pointed out by the Knowledge Commission and it is hoped that with its enforcement situation will improve both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Secondary Education

Secondary education prepares students for higher education and also equips them to step into the world of work successfully.  The latest data on Muslims attainment in secondary education which is the result of various State initiatives is available from NSS 61st Round published in 2007.

Table 2     Distribution of Muslims of age 15 years & above by level of secondary education (%)

  RURAL URBAN
Year Secondary Higher Secondary Secondary Higher Secondary
  male female All male female all male female all male female All
2004-05 7.5 3.9 5.7 3.3 1.6 2.4 13.0 9.9 11.5 6.7 5.5 6.1
1999-2000 8.2 3.2 5.7 3.0 1.0 2.0 13.7 9.0 11.5 7.3 4.5 5.9

Source : NSS 55th and 61st Rounds

A comparison of the data available from 55th and 61st Rounds of NSS on Muslims attainment in secondary and higher secondary education in rural and urban areas as shown in Table 2 reveals that during the period 1999-2000 and 2004-05 there was no improvement in the overall proportion of achievement of Muslims in secondary education. It remained stuck at 5.7% and 11.5% for rural and urban Muslims, respectively.  During this period, while Muslim girls’ attainment in secondary education showed some improvement, attainment of Muslim boys surprisingly got deteriorated. However, at higher secondary stage marginal improvement was registered in both areas and by both sexes taken together but the attainment of Muslim boys came down during the period which indicates that as against Muslim boys, Muslim girls showed more steady interest in higher secondary education though proportion of their attainment still remained behind their male counterparts. There is a need to further improve access of Muslims to secondary education both in rural and urban areas and for both sexes to enhance their GER which at present is much behind the national average and incentivise secondary education for them through scholarship schemes of reasonable amount. Girls’ secondary schools in the neighbourhood and those with residential facility by upgrading KGBVs to secondary level can substantially improve Muslim girls’ GER in secondary education.  Conscious attempts have also to be made to ensure that diversified secondary education is available in Muslim concentration districts and blocks in all the three streams of arts, science and commerce so that Muslim youth can freely make a choice of the stream as per their need and interest and can later effectively pursue higher and professional education.  There is a need to popularize science through various means among Muslim students and arrangements have to be made to recruit science teachers who can also teach in Urdu medium.

The Fatimi Committee (2007) report has suggested setting up of secondary schools exclusively for girls in 724 Muslim Concentration Blocks (MCBs) and combined co-educational secondary/senior secondary schools in 275 towns having more than 20% Muslim population. These schools would be managed by Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI’s) or Urban Local Bodies (ULB’s). Similarly, suggestion has also been made to open Jawahar Navodya Vidyalayas (JNVs) (Central Government funded residential schools for classes VI to XII) in all the 88 MCDs with Urdu to be offered as one of the languages and capacity of hostels in the JNVs to be expanded during XI Plan period. National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has also been asked to enroll madrasa pass outs for secondary school examination and to initiate on advocacy programme for them in this regard. NIOS has since started both these programmes and has also taken up translation of material in Urdu for academic stream courses and vocational programmes offered in Jan Shiksha Sansthan. Shortage of Urdu medium teachers in general schools with sizeable Muslim enrolment is affecting quality of student learning. The Fatimi Committee therefore also recommended establishment of Block Institutes of Teacher Education (BITEs) on the pattern of DIETs in all MCBs with an Urdu medium section in these institutes.  Implementation of some of these programmes has already started. However, the latest data on the status of these programmes is not available to ascertain the extent of benefit received from them by the community. It is expected that the Government’s resolve to universalize the secondary education in the next ten years or so by opening up 6000 model secondary schools in the first phase in all parts of the country would equitably benefit the educationally backward minorities. Attempts should be made to open these schools in the specified MCBs so that Muslim children can also have better access to quality secondary education. With a view to improve quality of education in minority managed schools series of training programmes for principals and managements of these schools have been organized by NUEPA and other centers during the last few years.  There is a need to study the impact of these programmes on leadership quality of principals and performance of teachers in these schools.

Higher Education

Higher education equips youth to contribute to the economic development of society and lead it in intellectual, political and social spheres.  Development of higher education depends on the out-turn of students from secondary schools, provision of appropriate educational avenues and facilities for them and availability of suitable conditions of their access to these facilities.  We have seen Muslims’ limited attainment of education at the higher secondary stage which has its ripple effect on their higher education. While some progress has been made in their enrolment in higher education, still they are far behind other communities in this sector of education.

Table: 3    Persons in Graduation and above by sex during 1999-2000 and 2004-2005 (%)

Rural                                                                                                      Urban
 

Male

Female

All

Male

Female

All

NSS 55th Round 1999-2000

2.1

0.4

1.3

6.0

3.4

4.7

NSS 61st Round 2004-2005

2.7

0.8

1.8

8.9

5.3

7.1

Source:  NSS 55th and 61st Rounds

As per the NSS 55th and 61st Rounds, attainment of Muslims in higher education i.e. graduation and above improved from 1.3%  to 1.8% in rural areas and from 4.7% to 7.1% in urban areas during 1999-2000 and 2004-2005.  Attainment of Muslim males in urban areas showed better improvement (6% to 8.9%) than in rural areas (2.1% to 2.7%). Similarly their females improved in higher education attainment in urban areas from 3.4% to 5.3% but only marginally from 0.4% to 0.8% in rural areas. Sachar Committee observed that ‘while some progress has been made overtime, differences remain and the current generation of Muslims is lagging behind in higher education.  Only one out of every 25 undergraduate students and one out of every 50 postgraduate students is a Muslim in premier colleges’.

Table 4    Gross enrolment ratio by religious groups, age group 18-23 (2004-05)

Religious Group

Total Higher Education

Graduation

 

MALE

FEMALE

Total

MALE

FEMALE

Total

Hindu

15.19

10.86

13.13

13.07

9.32

11.29

Muslim

9.09

6.16

7.70

7.77

5.81

6.84

Christian

19.72

19.98

19.85

17.21

16.02

16.60

Sikh

10.77

14.99

12.69

9.01

12.54

10.62

Total

14.42

10.57

12.59

12.42

9.11

10.84

Source: UGC (2009)

Like attainment at a particular level of education as an indicator, gross enrolment ratios (GERs) also indicate extent of persons’ engagement with higher education.   The attainment level is generally lower than enrollment ratio as there is some amount of wastage in the course of completion of education by the enrolled persons.

As shown in Table 4, GER in higher education and graduate programmes widely differs across religious communities.  Muslims have the lowest GER of 7.70 in higher education as against Christians who enjoy highest enrolment ratio of 19.85.  Muslims are far behind the national GER of 12.59 in higher education.  They are the only community who lag behind the national GER. Their women folk is further backward in higher education as their GER is the lowest in the country which is almost one half of the national female GER and one third of the Christian women’s GER who are most advanced in higher education.  Similarly, gross enrolment ratio of Muslims in graduate programmes is far below the national average and lowest among all religious groups.  The majority community of Hindus has a much higher GER than the national average in both higher education as well as in graduate programmes. Thus, like the previous levels of education, in higher education also Muslims are marginalized and their women folk is further deprived of higher education.  As against Muslims’ all India GER of 7.70 in higher education, their GER in rural areas is only 5.78.  In fact, their girls’ GER in rural areas is as low as 3.90 which is worse than the S.C. girls GER of 3.94 in rural India.  Still, the worst suffers in higher education are the non OBC rural Muslim women whose GER is only 3.08.  This situation is caused due to limited or almost no arrangement of unisex institutions of higher education in rural and urban areas as well as their low attainment rates at secondary stage of education. Taking cognizance of the poor enrolment and low attainment of Muslims particularly their women folk in higher education, especially on account of inadequate provision of facilities in areas of their concentration and the problem of perennial poverty of parents, it was decided by the Union Government that while setting up Colleges of Excellence in partnership with States during XIth Plan in each of the 373 districts with lower than national GER in higher education, all the 90 minority concentration districts shall be covered and that five out reach campuses of Aligarh Muslim University to cater higher education needs of Muslims will be opened in minority concentration areas namely, Bhopal, Katihar, Murshidabad, Mallapuram and Pune.  The proposal of AMU’s 5 outreach campuses has faced many roadblocks which will hopefully be removed soon.  Provision of more girls hostels in colleges and universities in minority concentration districts/blocks has also been initiated by the UGC in order to facilitate aspiring minority girls to acquire higher education. However, all these projects will take their own time to take off the ground and start showing their impact on Muslims’ access to higher education.

Conclusion

As has been seen from the foregoing discussion, even after more than six decades of independence and a lot of development having taken place in the country, Muslims by and large have remained backward in literacy and at every stage of education and the pace of their educational revival and uplift is quite slow both in rural and urban areas.  Fast expansion in educational provision and access at every level is somehow benefiting the other communities more than the Muslims on account of a threshold already achieved by them much earlier at every stage of education and attention of Muslims remaining engaged during that period on issues of poverty and security and no push given to them in the form of any affirmative action for education particularly in the early decades after independence. Though the situation of their education apparently seems to be somewhat better in Southern parts of the country vis-à-vis northern and eastern parts yet, the fact remains that even in the southern states, Muslims have not reached even the benchmark of national average in educational attainment.  Many educational institutions have been opened in the South Indian states through Muslims’ own initiative.  However, most of them have not been started to really facilitate the community acquire higher or professional education at affordable cost.  Rather, these have been set up, like many other self financed commercialized educational institutions, without any special consideration for the economically weak and talented Muslim students who can hardly afford the cost of higher education.  Interestingly, these institutions have been set up by invoking the Constitutional right given in Article 30 to minorities to establish and administer their institutions for their own cultural and educational benefit.  By and large, the community’s private initiative in higher education has been marred by a serious lack of understanding of the perspective, poor educational vision, myopic planning and absence of spirit of collaboration for the cause of education.  Consequently, instead of paying more sincere attention on building foundation of Muslim children’s education by setting up excellent secondary schools which are almost non-existent across regions, most of the energy and resources have been invested in higher and professional education which is of little consequence for the community.

Further the community’s better off middle class hardly draws any lessons and motivation from the experiences of the educational initiatives taken by other minorities like Christians and Sikhs and fails to own up any concrete responsibility in this regard beyond rhetorics.  For example, even a small step within the localities inhabited by the impoverished members of the community of arranging a space in the neighbourhood with a supportive ambience for self and supervised study by the students and aspirants for further education and employment which can do wonders in their studies and development, looks to be a far fetched dream.   The desire to provide education to one’s own children as also to others in the community seems to have improved in recent past.  However, it is not being commensurately supported by appropriate means by those who have the capacity and where-with-all for the same.  The community in itself has therefore to be more sensitive to the problem, be more imaginative and sincere in dealing with it and for sometime to come concentrate on mobilizing for creation of quality schooling facility for their children; setting up their own educational monitoring institutions who should be networked and synergized for mutual information and self guidance about schemes and programmes rolled out by the governments from time to time for the educational uplift of minorities; and providing sustained advocacy to the less empowered but well meaning and inspired members of the Muslim community willing to take an educational initiative.  There is a need to bridge the existing disconnect between those who have the talent and a will to work in this direction and those who can afford to support them but lack trust in them for both unfounded as well as well founded reasons.

The community leaders have also to gather their strength and be more proactive in getting state policies framed in the right perspective and ensuring their implementation within the given frame of reference by jointly monitoring them with the state agencies on continuing basis.  The more empowered sections of the community need to understand the potential lying in the non-governmental organizations and harness it within the frame of law for the benefit of the community and the nation.   Hardly a few such successful initiatives have been taken in the past.  Advocacy in this regard may help create new awareness for setting up voluntary educational organizations.

On the part of the State, the policy makers and those involved in the execution of these policies also need to be better sensitized. As rightly emphasized by the National Knowledge Commission, ‘there is a need to ensure that minorities are not discriminated against in attending schools, enabling conditions are created in the general school system for Muslim children and that there is a need to reorient official strategies for ensuring better access of Muslim children to schooling’.  This has also been mandated in the Right to Education Act (2009) that the Government will ensure that children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups are not discriminated against and not prevented from pursuing and completing education on any ground.  The Prime Minister’s 15 point programme also needs to be revisited and more educational initiatives beyond skill training and coaching classes, need to be included in it and vigorously pursued by all governments.

 The state policies for educational uplift of minorities are mostly ‘minority’ focused treating all minorities, whether educationally backward or forward, as equal and thus leaving less space for educationally backward Muslim community to take full advantage of these schemes as they have to compete with those minority groups who have already developed better capacity to capture the space created for minorities.  Educational planners and administrators are not fully sensitive towards this issue.  Further, the government sponsored schemes are generally conceived, implemented and evaluated in terms of volume of financial outlays and expenditure made rather than in terms of their contribution in providing quality education to the expected groups of beneficiaries.  The union/state governments have recently been asked to implement a training module developed by the Indian Institute of Public Administration for sensitization of government officials with issues related to minorities.

Although several educational development and support schemes for minorities have been launched by the Government, the desired results are still not visible on the ground.  An important reason may be that a well organized monitoring structure for both quantitative and qualitative monitoring of the implementation of these schemes is not in place like the one we have for SSA, etc.  There does exists a national monitoring committee in Ministry of HRD for minority educational institutions but its entire formulation and functioning is unstructured and lacks focus.  Monitoring and evaluation of programme implementation needs to be done more systematically and professionally by involving independent research institutions and non governmental organizations of repute under the supervision of an autonomous organization like NUEPA or NCERT.  Systematic monitoring of mega schemes like NREGA and SSA have brought very useful inputs which have helped in tracking their results, tightening their implementation and further strengthening of the schemes.  These experiences may be capitalized while evolving monitoring and evaluation mechanism for minority education and development programmes.  Recently, it has been decided to set up an autonomous Assessment and Monitoring Authority (AMA) in the Planning Commission to help analyze data for taking appropriate and corrective policy decisions. It is hoped that AMA will pay special attention on programmes meant for minorities.  A management information system for minority educational institutions, students and support programmes also needs to be developed at the earliest for better management of data and for more informed planning in this regard.

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