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Aishe Survey and Muslims in Higher Education

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Higher education is vital for better career prospects and as a stepping stone for career advancement in the twenty-first century. Of late, there has been much awareness in the Muslim community about the importance of primary and secondary education. But not much attention is given to finding out how the community is faring in higher education. In this context, it came as a bit of a surprise that the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-2020 conducted by the Ministry of Education, Government of India has collected much data exclusively about the Muslim community, among others.
AISHE 2019-2020
For preparing the AISHE Survey Report, data has been collected from 1019 Universities, 39955 Colleges, and 9599 Stand Alone institutions. Of these, 396 Universities are privately managed, 420 Universities are located in rural areas, and 17 Universities are exclusively for women. Karnataka is among the top 8 States in terms of the highest number of colleges. Bangalore Urban district has the highest number of colleges in the country with 1009 colleges, followed by Jaipur with 606 colleges. 78.6% of the colleges in the country are privately managed.
Student Enrolment
Uttar Pradesh tops the list with the highest student enrolment, followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Of course, this does not reflect the percentage enrolment vis-à-vis the population of the State. AISHE data shows that maximum numbers of students are enrolled in BA programme, followed by B.Sc and B.Com programmes. Hindi has the highest enrolment (1,32,426) in Indian languages at the post-graduate level. Urdu has 19,552 students enrolled at the post-graduate level, with 65.5% of them being females.
Enrolment of Muslim students
The percentage of students belonging to the Muslim community is only 5.5% out of the total enrolment in the country, which is well below their percentage population of 14.2%. Scheduled caste students constitute 14.7%, and Schedule tribe students constitute 5.6% of the total enrolment. 37% of students belong to Other Backward Classes, and 2.3% are from other Minority communities.
One positive outcome of the survey is that the percentage of Muslims has gone up from 4.67% in 2015-16 to 5.45% in 2019-2020. The total number of Muslim students enrolled in higher education is 21,00,860. Muslim female students (10,54,486) slightly outnumber Muslim male students (10,46,374). Uttar Pradesh has the highest enrolment among Muslims (3,57,676), followed by West Bengal (2,35,333) and Jammu & Kashmir (1,78,676).
With more girls completing higher education among Muslims, social issues have cropped up in the matrimonial field. Girls with higher educational qualifications are finding it increasingly difficult to get a spouse matching their educational attainment. This should not be a deterrent since Muslim girls pursuing higher education in more significant numbers is a welcome sign signaling strong evidence of increasing gender equality.
As per the AISHE Report, the enrolment of Muslim students in the Institutes of National Importance like IIT, NIT, and IIM is 5630, of which males are 4430 and females are 1200. The percentage of Muslim students in these National Institutes is merely 1.92% which is quite disquieting and needs much improvement.
Data about the faculty members
AISHE report also sheds light on the number of teachers employed with exact details about the teachers from the Muslim minority group. Out of the total number of 15.03 lakh teachers existing in 2019-20, 83,494 are from the Muslim community, which comes to just 5.6%, which is also way behind their population percentage. The ratio between male and female teachers in the Muslim community is 100:58. Out of the 83,494 Muslim teachers, 52,764 are males, and 30,730 are females, thus falling short in gender parity. The AISHE report also points out that the highest number of Muslim teachers are in Uttar Pradesh (10,566), followed by Karnataka (8762) and Maharashtra (8143). However, these numbers have to be understood in the context of the corresponding population size of the States.
Non-teaching staff
As per the outcome of the AISHE survey, Muslims fall short even in the employment of the non-teaching staff. The total number of Muslims employed in these posts is 45,393, which is just 3.5% of the total employment. Muslims have the lowest number of female non-teaching staff, which is 36 per 100 male non-teaching staff.
The data provided by AISHE makes it clear that separate measures and affirmative action are required to make Muslims equal participant in mainstream higher education. However, the steady rise in enrolment from 4.67% in 2015-16 to 5.45% in 2019-2020 reveals that the Muslim community is showing an inclining trend. Yet, bigger strides are required since the enrolment ratio is far below their population ratio. Although 21 lakh Muslims were enrolled in higher education as of 2019-2020, 77.63% of them were enrolled in colleges whose quality of education raises many questions. Therefore, there is a need to enhance the participation of Muslims in mainstream higher educational institutions. This is possible if the government provides the necessary support and initiates policies to provide better access to higher education and be a catalyst for their educational advancement. The Muslim community should spread awareness about the need and importance of higher education as a key to their progress and upliftment. Appropriate measures should motivate Muslim students to pursue higher education in mainstream higher education institutions and aim at higher targets.