Wrecking Educational Base
Wrecking Educational Base
Lack of academic seriousness in Urdu schools is ruining educational progress of Muslim children in many areas. The teachers are the main culprit while the negligent neighbourhood Muslims also contribute to decline of these schools, argues Prof. MUMTAZ ALI KHAN
Acquisition of knowledge is a mandate given in Islam. One source of acquiring knowledge is the formal school system. In particular, the primary school is the foundation for knowledge. The medium of instruction could be any language, mother tongue being preferred for Muslims in many parts of India, Urdu has become the mother tongue as well as medium of instruction at the primary level. It is universally accepted that Urdu language is one of the most beautiful languages. Much of knowledge on Islam is in Urdu language. This is a language of common man as well. It is true that Urdu language is not always helpful to acquire higher knowledge in contemporary society. But the emotional relationship between Muslims and language, between Muslims and Muslims and between Muslims and Non-Muslims is governed by Urdu language
It is at the primary school that children are exposed to Urdu language. There are Urdu schools in almost all the parts of India. But the conditions of these schools are alarmingly disturbing. Most of the children who attend classes in Urdu schools are from poor families. The present trend is that even among the poor some families tend to get their children admitted to private English medium schools. The reason is that the prevailing manpower as well as infrastructure are extremely poor. Governments are least interested in looking into the working conditions of the schools. Teachers are generally well recognized culprits. They do not have a sense of commitment to the language, nor to the community. The cultural behaviour of the teachers is very painful. The very foundation of the personality of the children is determined at this stage. The educational advancement of the children depends upon the motivation, inspiration and the encouragement that the children receive in these primary schools. One of the reasons for drop-outs is the negative approach of the teachers.
These primary school teachers are virtually Government employees. They get handsome salary and sustainable pensionary benefit. Their counter parts in a large number of private schools are poorly paid and badly equipped. But they teach much better. Their commitment is appreciative and the moral of the children is very much boosted.
The role of the community over Urdu schools is almost negligible. There is not much awareness among the community leaders that they have a role to play. The intellectuals residing in the concerned area, the elite and the business class in the area are least interested in knowing the conditions of the primary schools. In Western countries the intellectuals and the elite play a vital role in ensuring better standard of education. They know that primary schools have lot of impact on the future of the children. This is a striking contrast between the East and the West.
There are Muslim stalwarts playing a significant role at higher levels of education . Very good technical institutions are established and managed by them. The real reason for their involvement at this level is money. There is no question of commitment to community. Parents are prepared to send their children to such institution of higher learning.
But there is hardly any realization that in this world of competition, one should have quality education at higher levels. But this quality education is possible only when the standard of education is quite high at the primary level. It is desirable to dump as much money as possible at the primary level of education. The community should have a well-recognized control over school management. Teachers should be re-oriented to rise to the occasion and take up responsibility to save the situation.
As things stand, the number of Urdu primary schools is on the decline. There is disillusionment on the part of the Community and frustration on the part of the parents. Urdu has to survive. But much depends upon the community itself. Why blame the Government and others for our ills and short comings.
There is a fear that Urdu medium schools would pose problems for the future role of the children. Lack of English and regional language would cripple the future generation. There is some truth in this statement. But this is applicable to other non-English medium schools too. In non-Urdu, non-English medium schools, teachers and the community leaders play a very effective role and plug the loopholes. What needs to be done here is to take special care in introducing English to the children even outside the syllabus after regular school hours. Many schools are successfully doing this.
The standard of Urdu schools can easily be assured by adopting many measures. School uniforms should look like convent school children’s uniform. Smartness can also be guaranteed. Appearance of the children and class performance should be bright. Periodical test, discipline and extra curricular activities should be given top priority.
To meet future challenges, it is better to continue Kannada medium upto Primary IV Standard and then shift over to English medium at the Primary V Standard. It is easier for children to join High School.