Maharashtra's Muslim Schools are claiming top scores in public exams
M. H. Lakdawala
Mumbai: Just a couple of years ago, one had to search for even one Muslim name on the merit lists. Since 1998, Muslim students are appearing regularly on the merit list in Maharashtra. They have topped in BA., Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) and secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations.
This year SSC results also has a number of Muslims particularly Urdu medium students in the merit list. Out of 100 students in the general category of Mumbai division, three are Muslims. Kausar Qazi Hadiya from Farooq High School, Jogeshwari, stood fifth in the general category and first in the girls’ category. S.A. Ansari of Anjuman Khairul Islam girls High School stood ninth in the general category and fourth in the girls’ category with 92 per cent marks.
In the handicapped category, Zubeida Sayyed of St. Paul High School, Malad topped with 84.66 per cent. Gafraan Deen Mohammed is the SSC night school topper, while Javid Ayub of social group night school stood third.
In the Nasik division, Khan Saba Sharif topped amongst 161,809 students. In the Pune division, second and third positions in the general merit list went to Muslim students.
In Maharashtra a discernible shift in favour of education is seen in the last couple of years. The enrolment of Muslims not only at primary and secondary but also in vocational and professional courses is increasing gradually. A slew of reasons are responsible for this development:
Throughout Maharashtra, institutions and individuals have regularly arranged educational awareness campaign and series of vocational guidance lectures. Prominent amongst these are students Islamic Organization (SIO), Anjuman Islam and Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society. Mubarak Kapadia, educational activist, has consistently toured interiors for vocational guidance lectures.
Dr Ishaq Jamkhanawala, president Anjuman - I - Islam opines that the attitude of Muslims community is changing.” What is required is a consistent effort at the grassroots levels. Muslims must be made aware about the importance of education,” he said.
How even individuals with consistent efforts can change the ground realities, can be judged by the efforts of Peerpasha A.Inamdar in Pune, Karim Salar in Jalgaon, Haroon Majowala and Uzma Nahid in Mumbai. Contribution of Inamdar through the network of educational institutions, Haroon Mojawala by arranging scholarship for needy students and efforts of Uzma Nahid in promoting education amongst girls are inspiration for others.
Leading Urdu daily Inquilab has played a significant role in arousing awareness. Shahid Latif, feature editor Inquilab believes that there is a cultural shift in favour of education. “Proper guidance and information if provided, the result would be more encouraging.”
Scholarship at Various levels
Memon Education and Welfare Society (MEWS), MESCO, Khair-E-Ummat Trust and others are providing yeoman service to the community by giving financial assistance. The result is decrease in drop out rate at primary and secondary level and increase in enrolment of Muslims in Vocational and Professional courses.
Less resistance for girls’ education
The cumulative effect of the awareness campaign is that more parents are permitting girls to acquire higher education. Even in the business communities especially in the Memon community, the percentage of educated girls is increasing exponentially.
Stress on English in Urdu medium schools
More and more Urdu medium schools are making English mandatory from primary level. Extra emphasis is given to teach basics from beginning. Shakil Ahmed, a teacher in a municipal Urdu school said, “We take three extra lectures a week to teach basic English to our students. Most of the teachers volunteer for the extra lecture.” Several organisations regularly organize free English classes for Urdu medium students. This has increased the confidence level among them, which is visible in improved performance at H.S.C and profession level courses.
Adoption of Municipal Schools
In Mumbai, majority of Municipal Urdu schools have been adopted by various trusts and organizations. Two years ago most of these schools were on the verge of closure due to the high drop rate. Salma Lokhandwala, principal of the Anjuman-I-Islam Girls High School suggests that constructive policies with good facilities can help out the students at the lower levels. “Our school for instance adopted Maulana Azad School at Santacruz. During vacations, our teachers taught their students, and we paid the teachers through donations from well wishers”, Ms Lokhandwala said. As a result, the Santacruz School, which was in the 10-20 pass per cent bracket, could score a pass percentage of 50, she disclosed. Although the situation has improved, what remain to be achieved is quite stupendous. The beneficiaries of all these efforts are students from middle and lower middle class. The community has still not touched the deprived class especially those living in slums. In fact it is they who deserve our utmost attention. Shaheen Mistry, founder of Akanksha Foundation an NGO working amongst street children says, if every literate adult, adopts an illiterate child the problem of education would be half solved.