Saturday, March 30, 2013

Muslim girls’ enrolment in primary schools up 33% against average of 5%


Muslim girls’ enrolment in primary schools up 33% against average of 5%



Muslim students’ enrolment in primary schools is surging at a time when overall enrolment is either stagnating or even declining in some states.

NEW DELHI: Ilma Sajid lives in a joint family in an ancient house in the congested lanes of Bulbuli Khana, Old Delhi. But she travels everyday to an English medium school in east Delhi.

Her name 'Ilma' means one who is knowledgeable, explains her mother Farhana. "Ilma wants to become either a teacher or a doctor — and we will support her till she fulfils her desire," she says.

It's a heartening story that is being repeated in many households. Muslim students' enrolment in primary schools is surging at a time when overall enrolment is either stagnating or even declining in some states. Between 2007-08 and 2010-11, Muslim enrolment in classes I to V (primary) shot up by 25% and for classes VI to VIII (upper primary) by 50% across the country, according to data collected from the country's 1.36 million elementary schools by the National University of Educational Planning & Administration. For classes I to VIII as a whole, this marked a rise of 31%.

In the same period, total enrolment in class I to V inched up by just 1% and for class VI to VIII by 12%. For class 1 to VIII, this marked a rise of 4%.

Girls' enrollment has blazed ahead even faster than boys in the Muslim community. For primary sections, Muslim girls' enrollment increased by 26% compared to just 1% increase in all girls' enrolment. For upper primary sections, Muslim girls' enrollment increased 54% while for all girls it rose 15%. For Classes I to VIII, the enrolment was up 33% for Muslim girls against an overall average of 5%.

Ilma is the youngest of Farhana's four children, and the only daughter. Her father runs a small bangle shop. Both her parents did not complete school but they are actively involved in the daughter's education. "We can't do much in terms of guiding her in studies," says Farhana, "but we send Ilma to camps and we get her all the material that she needs."

This is the new generation of young Muslim parents, which is driving an incredible surge in the quest for education in a community that was always blamed for being backward and conservative, especially with regard to girls' education.

Saima, Ilma's aunt, has three daughters, no son. "People call me unfortunate because I don't have any son," she says. "But my daughters will all become so successful that we will be recognized and respected as their parents."

Her daughters study in Classes II, V and VI, respectively, in a well-known convent school. They want to become IAS/IPS officers or doctors, says Saima, perhaps weaving her own dreams into her daughters' thoughts. But that is what drives this family.

Rehana, a socially active person in the area, says there are still many Muslim families who are unable to send their kids to school. "There is too much poverty, and the price rise has broken the backs of poorer families," she rues. But there is no doubt that among the Muslim community, there is a passionate urge to get education, says Rehana.

As Saima says, "I tell my husband — we may miss some meals, but my three angels will get the best education."

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