Paras K Jha, DNA | Last Modified - Apr 08, 2012, 05:08 AM IST
Ahmedabad: The high number of out-of-school children among the Muslim community in Gujarat has created a ripple in the establishment. Amongst several attempts to deny this statistic - a result of a survey by IMRB for Central government - one argument was that "several" Muslim students go only to madrassas (a school imparting religious education) which skews the overall numbers.
When probed deeper by speaking to experts in the community, it emerged that only about 4-5% of students exclusively go to madrassa, and not a majority as implied. The number of out of school students in the Muslim community increased by 33% between 2005 and 2009 in state. While the number has decreased in most of states in the country, Gujarat is amongst those states that have actually shown an increase.
President of Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Madaris, Gujarat Mufti Ahmed Devalvi, said, "Unlike Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, students in Gujarat go to mainstream schools after studying for three hours in madrassas. Only 4-5% students pursue all of their higher level studies in a madrassa, 95% go to mainstream school and a madrassa only additionally. There would be around 10,000 small madrassas in Gujarat and 150 with hostel facilities. Out of these only 10-15 offer mainstream education courses, rest focus on religious education."
President of BJP's minority wing Mahebubali Bava Saheb said, "It is true that most of the madrassas impart religious teaching to students but there are some, which have introduced subjects and courses of mainstream education.
“Such courses along with the religious teaching would enable students to be employable in the job market. I believe more and more madrassas should introduce vocational and mainstream educational courses along with religious education, which help students get employment opportunities."
Mohammad Ibrahim Siddiqui, retired branch manager of Life Insurance Corporation and Secretary of Al-Fazal Madrassa in Juhapura said, "There are around 3 big madrassas with hostel facilities and 50 imparting primary religious teaching to the kids in Juhapura. Around 2000 students in madrassas with hostel facilities and 6,000 students in primary madrassas are studying. Though Madrassas are mainly giving religious teaching, we are also teaching subjects like mathematics, science, English, Gujarati, Arabic, Urdu and computers."
Devalvi added, "Now, it seems urge for education has increased in the Muslim communities. But government, citing one or other reasons, is not giving permission for opening new grant-in-aid schools or increasing the number of divisions in the schools."
(With inputs from Jumana Shah)