Islamic Voice
Shaban/Ramadan 1422
November 2001
Volume 15-11 No:179

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ISLAMIC VOICE SURVEY


Muslim Govt. Residential Schools: A Dream Shattered

Muslim Govt. Residential Schools

A Dream Shattered

Government of Karnataka spends Rs. One Crore every year on five residential schools for Muslims.
A survey reveals that the community does not tap the benefits in due measure.

By Azmathullah Shariff

Is it rejection, sabotage, or simple apathy? If not what else.

Looking at the plight of the five Government Muslim Residential Schools in the state, one is sure to conclude that the Karnataka Muslims are loud in trumpeting their demands. But when it comes to action, the rhetoric dissolves into the thin air. They opt for a worse fate than their enemies would desire to see befalling them.

In 1995, the Karnataka Government sanctioned five exclusive schools for Muslims to help boost the sagging educational standards of community in the state. These were to be residential schools. Politician C. M. Ibrahim, a close associate of then chief minister H. D. Deve Gowda, pounced upon the opportunity and got a host of trusts registered in Gulbarga, Bijapur, Ramanagram, Srirangapatna and Mangalore overnight in the name of various sufis and saints and set up the ragtag schools. The scheme had an annual allocation of Rs. one crore and the sum was prime motivator in a mad rush for the sponsors.

But nearly six years later, all that these schools are doing is teaching a bunch of students from rural areas with no ambitions to pursue. Bearing pathetic looks, understaffed, being run from dilapidated buildings, with bare minimum infrastructure, with no teaching aids worth the name, these specialized school carry no promise of nurturing talents that the community badly needs and also originally conceived. But sadly enough, the concept seems to have been hijacked by self-centred politicians and the institutions that sprouted, seem to be far removed from fulfilling the objective.
 


A class in session at Mangalore school


Muslim Govt. Residential School at Gulbarga


Muslim Govt. Residential School at Mangalore


Srirangapatna school being run in a Marketing shed

Nothing in the ongoing schools suggests that their products would one day fill the leadership vacuum in the community. Operating out of mostly temporary sheds or rented premises, these have attracted almost the same students who would have otherwise gone to Arabic madrassas, lured by their food and shelter guarantee. With limited mental horizon, the unmotivated teachers do nothing better than a municipal Urdu school. Interactions with a clutch of students reveals that mindscape has undergone no major change.

“I will pursue Arts in college,” says Mohammad Mujahid, a student of the 10th standard from Mysore studying in Government Muslim Residential School at Srirangapatna. Asked what makes him opt for Arts, he says nonchalantly, “Because I am interested in drawing and designing.”

Azam Pasha, a student at Srirangapatna says, “I will join my brother’s motor garage in Mysore after completing my SSLC”. Amid these disappointing outlooks, Ruqaiya Begum, a 5th standard student of Muslim Government Residential School at Gulbarga must seem a little ambitious. She aspires to be a school teacher and one compels to say Ameen.
 

The five Government Muslim Residential Schools being run with Rs. One crore financial allocation are in a shabby state. Muslims refuse to avail the opportunity.

The whole approach to scheme betrays poverty of imagination and clumsiness. The community is generally unaware of the scheme. Then students are hard to find. Most schools find it difficult to convince the rural parents to send their wards. Says Shaheena Banu, headmistress at the Ramanagaram school says, “Merit could hardly be the criterion for admission as beggars could not be choosers. We have to persuade the parents and take whoever is willing to come.”

The school in historic Srirangapatna town is being run in Agricultural Produce Marketing (TAPMS) shed. Bijapur school is in an Industrial shed. Thin partitions hardly separate classes in the two places and the bemused students receive a cacophony for lessons. Ramanagaram school is located in a dilapidated house in Masjid Mohalla, while the one in Gulbarga is lucky enough to have a new building, though not meant for a residential school. The Mangalore school is however the best of the lot with a rented premises of 3000 sq. feet in the outskirts.

Though the office of the Directorate of Urdu and Minority Languages Institutions in Bangalore claims that 2-acre plot of land has been sanctioned for Bijapur school, but the head mistress Ms. Khazi denies knowledge of the land. “I am not aware where the land has been sanctioned, nothing of that kind has come to my knowledge”, she remarked. At Gulbarga a two-acre plot of land was donated by philonthrophist Afzal Hussain’. At Ramanagaram a five-acre plot has been sanctioned on the outskirts of the town.

Bijapur school has only two toilets and two bathrooms for 150 students. So the answering the call of nature and bathing is a joyful experiment in farms and under the open sky for the students. Gulbarga does a little better with three toilets and three baths for 200 students. Ramanagaram and Bijapur have no dining halls. Dormitories are still an unknown concept in these residential schools. Classrooms in Ramanagaram, Bijapur and Gulbarga schools are converted into sleeping space during nights. Bags and trunks containing the belongings of the students could be seen strewn all over the place. Rains bring misery to students in Bijapur where gushing water leaves no space for sleeping. Students therefore share the existing few benches to sit and doze. Doctors do visit all the schools but receive a monthly remuneration of only Rs. 500 for weekly or emergency visits.

Self-seeking politicians first hijacked the scheme. But the situation remains the same even after direct control of the government. Students develop no ambition.

Bijapur, Ramanagram and Srirangapatna schools do not have round-the-clock warden, an essential requirement for residential schools. So watchmen are the sole guardian during the nights. Says Aliya Fathima S. Khazi, headmistress of Bijapur School, “The accommodation problem and the insecurity felt by the inmates is causing decline in admission at 5th standard stage.”

The schools are understaffed. This mars the academic performance. Srirangapatna School functions without a headmaster. Someone served the post on deputation but was later withdrawn. “Gulbarga school suffered because there were no mathematics and Kannada teachers for long time resulting in bad performance,” says headmistress Dr. Shafiqunnissa Rubina. “Since several among the existing staff members were employees appointed by a private trust management, their services have not been regularized as government employees. However they receive salaries on par with the government teachers”, points out Abdul Aleem, Educational Officer, who monitors the progress and performance of these Muslim School from Bangalore.

The schools were meant to be co-educational. But few parents risk sending their daughters to these schools with lax security and there being no female wardens. It is only at Gulbarga that a lady warden has been appointed.

The Government of Karnataka had made provision of allocation of Rs. 500 per month for each student in 1996. But Ms. Khazi of Bijapur says: “The amount continues to be the same even after five years even as expenses are rising.”

According to Mr. Abdul Aleem, during the last financial year the government had allocated Rs. One crore for the construction of the buildings for these residential schools. But the amount had to be surrendered as they could not utilise the same for the construction purpose. Moreover, the Government was bound to its promise to start one such school every year in a district. By this yardstick, we should have 12 schools functioning by now. But the number remains same.

One thing is clear the schools are being run shoddily. The community has shown no interest in availing the opportunity and funds provided by the government. Such opportunities do not knock at the doors often. Their pathetic state and apathy by community has robbed the scheme of all its promise. The allocation could have been enough to run schools that nurture talents, promote excellence and produce students who have edge over others. But alas! The scheme is a great waste. Will the community wake up?
 

Premises
Government Muslim Residential Schools

 

Now

Proposal

Ramanagaram Rented Old House 5 acre Land allotted but not utilised
Srirangapatna TAPMS Shed Land identified, but yet to be purchased
Mangalore Rented premises 5 acres land allotted
Gulbarga Rented premises 2 acres land donated, Construction to begin
Bijapur Rented Industrial shed 2 acres land allotted, status controversial

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