Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


RABI-UL-AWWAL / RABI - U - THANI
MAY 2004
Volume 17-05 No : 209
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Community Initiative


A Happy Turnaround
Imparting a New Look
Lush Lawns and Hot Meals

Blowing Soul into Urdu Schools

Karnataka has nearly 4,600 Urdu schools run by the Governtment. Most of them teach up to 7th standard. Infrastructure and teachers' salaries are provided by the Department of Public Instructions. But their condition is pitiable. Teachers lacks motivation even though they carry home fat pay packets. Buildings of the schools are barely shells with no facilities for drinking water, toilets, playgrounds, charts, globes, and other teachings aids, let alone parks, gardens, fountains, trees, or swings and see-saws. As a result these schools have ceased to attract serious students. A child out of 7th standard from a typical Govt. Urdu school can barely write his or her name. With such poor linguistic skills, he/she cannot hope to continue education in high school due to change of medium of instruction either to English or Kannada. The Govt. of Karnataka announced a policy to entrust these schools to NGOs about four years ago. Though hundreds of Kannada medium schools were adopted by NGOs, there have been few takers for Urdu schools. However, nearly two dozen schools were adopted by Muslims NGOs. Islamic Voice staffers visited a few of them and note the changes, which point to the scope for improvement in these schools which cattered to the lowest of the low among Muslims.

A Happy Turnaround

It seems to have received the Midas touch. Barely two years ago Government Urdu Higher Primary School in Chandra Layout was not the same self. Its run down campus hardly inspired kids. They came here merely as a diversion from their humble homes in the sprawling lower-middle income locality, which offered no scope for entertainment. The school had no toilets. Peeled off plaster and the ramshackle building hardly had any facilities such as drinking water, toilets, library, charts or the essential paraphernalia for good teaching.

But thanks to efforts of the Aalim Charitable Trust and fund allocation from MPLAD Fund by Mr. Rahman Khan, Member of Parliament from Bangalore, the school has seen a great metamorphosis. Its exteriors now blaze under the sun. Paintings of fruits, flowers, animals, and national anthem written in ornate Urdu calligraphy embellish its forehead. Nursery classrooms have a generous dose of toys and tricycles.

Its shiny walls, chart-filled classrooms, pert teachers and the overall alluring looks have begun to attract new students with their numbers going from 100 to 400 in two years. So has risen the morale of the teachers who now feel they have godfathers within the community to take stock of their work, assess their worth. Considering that other Urdu schools constantly lose kids, the situation is certainly one to be jubilant about.

It was in February 2002 that the Trust surveyed the area and found the school in a pathetic state. It approached Mr. Khan who sanctioned Rs. 8 lakh from the MP Local Area Development fund for the construction of six rooms. (It was thereafter named as Rahman Khan Govt. Urdu Higher Primary School). A host of other businessmen provided necessary furniture, dug borewell, while school teachers contributed from their salaries to provide fans and educational aids.

Says headmistress Mahaboob Jan, looking at the revival of interest by Urdu-speaking community, endowments from other communities also began to help. Paraspara Trust and Akshara Foundation have come forward and provide tuition classes for weak students.

With new charts and pictures adoring the classrooms, the students have a visual feast. Says teacher Farkhunda Khanum, "The teachers have to now explain the life histories of leaders whose visages have gone up the walls. It has had a salutary effect on the students. Earlier they would merely like to end up as auto-mechanics or drivers. The students were asked to state their life's ambition. They have indicated careers such as teaching, police officers, airhostesses and doctors." The teachers even contributed funds to send Haseena Taj, a student to compete in the State Athletics Meet last year.

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Imparting a New Look

It was an unsightly building till a few years ago. A waste bin in the front served as the prominent eyesore. No amount of persuasion of the local folk would deter them from throwing their waste in front of the Govt. Urdu Primary School in Madiwala locality of Bangalore.

But then even as Government of Karnataka announced adoption of Government schools, local activist Razia Sultana set her eyes on the school. She was on her feet soon enough to sign the MoU with the Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI) to adopt the school established decades ago by a kind Brahmin gentleman for the education of the poor Urdu speaking folk in the village of Madiwala, now subsumed in the urban sprawl of the high-tech Bangalore.

Exterior of the school has not changed any drastically during the last four years. But there are all straws in the wind for change.

The walls have been plastered, toilets constructed and charts and other educational aids are in place. An elite school gave them the old benches and desks. Education For All (EFA) Trust provided water facilities. Philanthropists have promised more if the Association shows results.

First thing Razia and her associates did was to remove the waste bin and replace it with a flagpole on a night before the Independence Day. The kids pasted the surrounding walls with photographs of national leaders. This had a salutary effect and waste disposal was suddenly stopped.

They also added a nursery class. As the stock of the school went up, localites also lent a helping hand. A butcher donated money to distribute prizes on the national days. Even non-Muslims began to send their wards, some of whom even have memorized Urdu poems and Arabic duas.

Razia says now the kids want to learn English and emulate the way kids in English medium schools speak English. The number of students has gone up from 45 to 130 in four years.

The Association is looking for philanthropists who could donate money to pay out salary for an English teacher. It has encouraged Association members to adopt a slum nearby and a Government-run Backward Class and Minorities Girls Hostel for management. (Input by Maqbool Ahmed Siraj). n

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Lush Lawns and Hot Meals

The 4000 Urdu schools in Karnataka give an opportunity to more than 6,00,000 poorest of the poor Muslim children to get free education and step into the portals of fruitful and dignified life in the society. This requires keen interest and intervention by the community in improving the miserable condition, through adoption programme. While the ground work for the adoption programme of the Urdu schools began way back in November 2001 when Ziaulla Shariff offered to provide a lead through the Sheriff Foundation and adopt a few schools, the programme gained momentum in 2004 after a seminar was held in April this year on Adoption of Govt. Schools by the Sheriff Foundation.. So the Task Force at its meeting again in October 2001 decided to establish the “ Education for All Trust” which acted as an agency to solicit and muster resources, identify schools for adoption and motivate philanthropists to adopt schools. Sheriff Foundation signed a comprehensive MOU with the Government of Karnataka for the Adoption Programme and adopted 10 schools. The first school to be taken up by Sheriff Foundation is the Govt Higher primary School and the High School located in D.J.Halli, the largest slum in Bangalore. With nearly 4,500 children spread over five dilapidated buildings, this is the biggest school in Karnataka. In the shortest time possible, the map of the school complex has been changed with a bright new look.

Buildings have been repaired, upgraded and painted. Ground has been cleared of debris. Landscape, play facilities, water and toilet facilities have been provided. A borewell toilet with flush facility and iron gates with two security staff have been provided. Besides teachers Training programmes, mid-day meals is provided to all the children in co-operation with the Akshaya Patra Foundation.

The mid-day meal has indeed brought a glow on the faces of the children and according to Ameer Ahmed, Advisor for Schools, Sheriff Foundation, there has been a marked improvement in the attendance of the students between 2003 and 2004 after the adoption programme has been re-inforced. According to A.R.Kamaruddin, Advisor-Information Systems and Services here, Deeniyat education will also be introduced soon at the school.

(Input by Nigar Ataulla)

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