A high-profile Muslim Education Conference was organized by Hamid Dalwai Islamic Research Institute on 1st and 2nd December 2023 at S.M. Joshi Foundation, Pune.
In the Inaugural Session Dr. Abusaleh Shariff, a well-known economist and Member-Secretary, of the Sachar Committee, averred that if India wants to become a developed country, it should impart the best of the education, useful for the future, even to the poorest of the poor. Affordable technical education must be given to all Indians because technology is an equalizer.
Dr. Sobhan of Shaheen Educational Group, Bangalore, stated that in India getting quality teachers is a big problem. Children are attending so many classes that by the end of the day they are so tired that they cannot study well. He wanted to do away with the tuition system to save the children’s childhood. So after coming back from U.K., he went for innovations in teaching. How to empower a teacher and how to make a student interested in his studies were two questions he wanted to answer. After doing tremendous research, he started developing books which enable students to prepare right from 6th standard to appear easily for competitive exams and pass with flying colours. Thus he has been making education relevant and skilled to prosper in life.
Hussein Dalwai, former M.P. and presently President, Maulana Azad Vichar Manch, opined that Muslims get technical intelligence right from their birth. In the recent tunnel disaster in the
Himalayas, one Qureshi played a very important role in saving those trapped workers. In Mumbai, more than 80 per cent of Muslims live in zhopadpatttis (slums). Even though Muslims are deprived in many fields, they live normal lives because of their skills. In Mumbai, Muslims are as muchas 11.5 per cent and Brahmins are only 3per cent of the population. Yet they dominate because Brahmins are educated. Like Brahmins, Muslims should also study so that they can prosper and take India ahead. Every Muslim should see that all his children and Muslims from the entire neighborhoods go to school. In Maharashtra, 75 per cent of Muslim children drop out of school. Only two and a half to three percent of children reach graduation. In Maharashtra Government not a single Muslim secretary was there. In IAS, only five Muslims were there. How many Muslim children are there in Mumbai IIT? Hardly three. Does it mean that Muslim children are not intelligent? No, they do not get opportunities. Also, waqf properties must be used for education purposes.
Prof. Shsamsul Islam presented many interesting facts from history. For example, Raja Rammanohar Roy studied at a Madrasa. In the past, non-Brahmin people could not enter Brahmin’s schools. So madrasas came into existence and educated non-Muslims too.
Muslim contribution to the world and India is tremendous. Paper-making was promoted by Muslims. Muslims gave importance to learning and books. Best libraries were founded in Damascus. Hostels were attached to libraries. In Damascus, at Bait-ul-Hikma, scholars from different religions were studying together. Through Islam, Plato’s and Aristotle’s works were introduced in Europe. In Cairo’s library, 1.6 million books were stored. In Iraq, a library had to be shifted. Its books were carried by 400 camels. Bookbinding and tailoring were brought to India by them. Thus Islam has a great tradition of learning.
What is happening to Dalits, tribals, and other marginalized communities? During the last five years, about a lakh of schools were closed in India. So children from all the communities will miss going to school. Therefore Muslims must participate in the fight to save Hindu rights.
Prof. John Kurian, a senior educationist, spoke about the present status of Muslim education in India. NSS surveys have revealed that Muslims are the most disadvantaged community and their school enrollment is lower than that of SC/ST. Many Muslim students do not study beyond 8th standard. Does it mean that Muslims do not want their children to study? No. They want them to study. Circumstances do not allow them. Most Muslims are poor. They go to government schools where the quality is poor. There is willful negligence on the part of the authorities.
Muslims must get at least 12 years of quality education. What is to be done?
(1)Proper data on their educational status must be compiled and published.
(2) Like for SC/STs, special schemes must be framed and implemented for Muslims.
(3) Education culture must be promoted among Muslims.
Ranoo Jain, an educational sociologist, from TISS, stated that stereotyping of Muslims does not help their progress. Muslim females do want to study. Due to poverty and deprivation, Muslim children drop out when government schools are privatized. In Rafi Nagar a slum in Mumbai, no primary school exists. So the children went to a madrasa. In another Muslim area near Bombay, a Maulvi from a hilly area came and told Ranoo Jainto get them enrolled in a secular school. In Sarvas Iksha Abhiyan, madrasas were very helpful in promoting education. The modernization of the Madrasa programme started from the Eighth Plan. In the Area Intensive Programme, Muslims were not specifically mentioned. In the Eleventh Plan, both schemes were merged. It did not help the Muslims.
Anwar Rajan, President of the conference, concluded that education, polarization, safety, and security are all important issues for Muslims. However Muslim problems cannot be solved in isolation. Muslims should work with other communities and try to solve everybody’s issues together. Then only success can be achieved.