The BJP government at the Centre had said that Muslims lagged much behind in literacy and education among the country’s minorities.
A special committee appointed by the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) that functions under the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs submitted a report about the current state of Muslim education for preparing a detailed ‘road map’ for the educational empowerment of minorities. According to the 2011 census data, the report says that the literacy rate among Muslims was 68.53 per cent while the national average was 72.98 per cent. While the youths of the country who completed 20 years of age and had a degree or a diploma was 7 per cent, the percentage was below four in the case of Muslims. The committee said that the Muslims were the ‘educationally most disadvantaged community’ and the main reasons were financial backwardness along with the dearth of educational institutions.
The 11-member committee was constituted by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in December last year headed by former IAS officer Afzal Amanullah. The committee that comprises of educationists, former MPs and bankers have also presented suggestions for resolving the problem of educational backwardness. The main recommendation of the committee is a three-tier model for education. It proposed setting up of 211 schools in rural areas and minority concentrated blocks, 25 community colleges across the country and five national institutes in the field of science and technology, health, architecture, climate change and disaster management. These national institutes will offer programs of masters, doctoral and post-doctoral levels in subjects like science, medicine and technology. The committee has suggested that the schools should follow the Kendriya/Navodaya Vidyalaya pattern under CBSE curriculum. The 211 schools should be established with 167 schools in the minority-dominant and concentrated blocks and 44 in minority-concentrated cities across the country. There are also recommendations to start the school timings at 9.30 am in the morning to ensure the attendance of children. This is also due to considering the convenience of Muslim children to attend their religious study classes early morning.
It’s needless to say that the Muslims in India are much behind in social, economic and educational fields. The Maulana Azad Foundation Committee reiterates after ten years, the findings of the Rajinder Sachar Committee report that surfaced during the tenure of UPA government in 2006. The only specialty of the report that is worth mentioning is that it was the BJP ruling at the Centre that took initiatives in this regard and welcomed the recommendations of the committee. After six decades of independence, when the Sachar Committee revealed the factual report of the continuing plight of Muslims, the BJP leaders had went on a rampant campaign saying that it was manipulated and that it intended Muslim appeasement. They warned and threatened that adopting welfare measures for Muslims according to the Sachar Committee recommendations would destabilize the country. The BJP had tried hard to ignite the anti-minority sentiments in the country by pointing to the ‘appeasement side’ of the Sachar Committee report. It’s the same party that now suggests a solution by confirming the backwardness of the Muslims. A section of Muslim leaders doesn’t merely express their skepticisms that whether it was a move to ‘appease’ the Muslims foreseeing the Parliamentary elections in 2019. Even if that’s the case, it would have been better if the report opened the eyes of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of State for Parliamentary and Minority Affairs and one of the figures of Muslim appeasement in the BJP. Article 46 of the Constitution states that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. It’s time the BJP leaders realize that they are mocking the Constitution through such allegations of appeasement.
The rate of Muslim literacy which was 59.1 per cent in the Sachar Committee report has only reached 68.53 per cent. There is also a slight change in the case of education. However, it will be more right to say that it is due to the awakening and empowerment activities within the Muslim community in the wake of the report rather than the effective intervention of the government. The Congress that celebrated the Sachar report didn’t do much in resolving the issue.A senior committee was appointed under the leadership of Minister for Human resources and development to look into educational matters. A national committee was formed under the supervision of the cabinet Minister, for the evaluation of educational activities of the minorities. The report released by the BJP after ten years is a clear answer to questions that pointed towards the futility of these attempts. The Muslims faced more miseries than benefits of the Sachar Committee report. The BJP made the report a tool for propagating the belief that the government was striving hard for Muslim appeasement thereby spreading animosity among the other communities against the Muslims. The question is whether the recommendations of BJP’s own committee would aggravate this communal hatred or will it prove to be an effective solution to the issues of Muslim education.