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01 April 2012

Educational Standards of our Nation, Scopes and Improvement

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By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar


Last two years Government of India has been focusing on several initiatives to ensure that every child have excess to school education. I am talking about elementary education; millions of children around the world are deprived on the right to education. The result one out of three children never see the inside of a class room. Two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) continue to challenge us. The first was to ensure that by 2015 all children should have access to free education of good quality and the second was to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and achieve gender equality in education by 2015 with a focus on ensuring girls full and equal access to and achievement in basic good quality education. In fact RTE, came into effect on April 2010 and made India among 135 countries that every child in between 6-14 years should get free and compulsory education. Last few year’s Budget of elementary education is Rs.21,000 crore under SSA. To ensure universalizing of quality elementary education has been insignificant in 2011-2012 and the outlays has been stepped upto Rs.25,555 crore in 2012-2013. An increase in allocation by 21.7% for the RTE (SSA).


The education cess which has slightly gone down 43% in 2011-2012 and the Cess share in financing elementary education has gone to 41.6%. Other critical sub-sectors, such as secondary education, higher and technical education have not been adequately stepped in this year’s Budget. For Rashtriya Madyamic Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) Aldocent education-1 the outlay has gone from Rs.2423 crore in 2011-12 RE to Rs. 3124 crore in 2012-13. The increase is 29%.


However, while access to education has been emphasised, quality education is still a cause of concern.


Of late, one sees a mushrooming of new age schools around the country, International schools, IB curriculum and ultra modern teaching methods are often advertised along with the promise to turn your child into the next Einstein, Mozart or Tendulkar. Who can effort such schools enrol their kids. Other parents face anxiety whether their child in a traditional school will ever make it in life. After school coaching and extra-curricular activity classes are another rage promising to give your child extra edge of bringing out his or her creative side.


The flawed or weaken and outdated Indian education system does not help. The pressure to score marks to success a decent college seat is immense. It takes away true education and turned school into a goal oriented factory for children. This leads to students who may have good grades, but often lack essential personality traits, that will make them do well in life.


In such scenario, one wonder what can a school do, if, the system is flawed or it is commercialised or is over powering everything else. The key qualities a school must endeavour to impart in its students include an ability to think, a natural curiosity, reasonable imagination, communication and mathematical skill. Also vitals are a sense of ethics, humility and bring a team plays. People in such qualities generally do well in life. The course materials need to be taught in manner that brings many qualities.


In one of the address Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Former President of India pointed out that, “ it is not fancy buildings or world class faculties that a school is all about, it is exceptional of teachers’. Primary education he feels should be disseminated and promoted in such a manner that there is synergy between the stakeholders, students, teachers and parents. Good teachers and good education make difference”. (Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam) the school in which he had studied was not having good or great building but it had exceptional teachers, the teacher recipient of Padmabushan. Need is to go beyond urban rural divide to give or ensure quality education.


The largest minority of the country comprising 175 million Muslims from one single cohort that is educationally, socially and economically more backward than others socio-religious communities, intensively urged by Sachar Committee.


Education, as a prime mover in facilitating social and economic development, is now well understood by all and needs no further emphasis. It is well understood that it not only enhances productivity (through improvement in educational and skill base) thereby leading to economic empowerment but also augments democratic participation of all minorities/marginalized sections of society and upgrades their access to health and other quality of life indicators.


The Sachar Committee concluded that the Muslim Community had experienced educational deprivation, both in absolute and relative terms and more importantly, the community felt discriminated against and was getting increasingly marginalized (consequently alienated). It substantiated it’s findings by gathering statistical data to show lower overall literacy rates for Muslims (59.1 % as against 65.1% - national average) for growth rate of literacy across different SRCs, in terms of Mean Years of Schooling (MYS), enrolment rates, attendance rates, differentials in educational attainments of different SRCs, dropout rates and Matriculation Completion Rates (MCRs). It came to the conclusion that Muslims as SRC, have one of the lowest enrollment rates at school level and within Muslims.


Young Muslims, as educationally deprived group, face maximum barriers in accessing education, due to the socio-religious constraints, which becomes more difficult, with economic deprivations. The past experience of almost ‘6’ decades of public policy in educational domain has shown that a uniform or generalized kind of policy has not made any relative difference to their educational attainments – they continue to remain at the bottom of educational ladder.
Therefore, we need to address the multiple challenges of minority education, especially the issues concerning access, equity, quality and capacity creation so that not only education becomes inclusive but also it becomes productive in sustaining life and livelihoods. We can ignore the importance of minority education only at the peril of our country’s development.
The Government, policy makers, educationalists and the community leaders may be seen perturbed on this grim situation and various schemes and proposals are on the board for redressing the obtained conditions of minority women in general and that of the Muslim women in particular. Most Government bodies are planning in their own way and within the limits of mandates to ameliorate the situation.


I state Quranic verse (28:68) and our Lord creates what he will and chooses.... and very often Allah says “Watarzuku Manyashau begaise hisaab”, it is who provides sustenance for anyone He wishes. In simple terms, Allah does not necessarily choose the trained but trains the chosen.
We thank and praise Allah, the Compassionate, the wise we bear witness that there is no worthy of worship, who had made heavens and earth our classroom so that we may know Allah’s creating serve Allah with understanding. Every venture, invention or science is born out of a need and the need for today’s society is a need related education that is; giving your children the knowledge they can use.


Educate your children they must live in a time different from yours’. Goes the saying of the Prophet Muhammed(SAW) Education must therefore anticipate the future, keeping in a mind the present and learning from the past. Ignorance is not a bliss. Through it runs the evils of today’s society, namely mass poverty and destitution, corruption and bribery, high disparity between rich and poor, innovations in religion, disunity and hatred.


The reasons behind the past success of the Islamic civilization and today’s failure and backwardness of the Muslim world is due to many reasons to name but a few are:


• Absence of Islam from our lives
• Spread of ignorance
• Increasing disparity between the rich and poor


The most of the above can be blamed on the Muslim educational system. The majority of the Middle class Muslim population in India opt for:-


1) Missionary school, which are affordable, but come with standard education curriculum but come with a package of value action to the Islamic taste.
2) Govt. Schools with regional language as the medium of instruction which optimises of poor infrastructure and mediocre academic record.
3) Madrasas. The result is that the products of these schools and consequently of the Muslim majority with a few exceptions have an identity crisis and are unhappy and frustrated lot. Unskilled and lacking in confidence lagging behind an unqualified to face world.


In any pluralistic society a community survival not only depends on its ability to preserve its culture, religion, values and identity, but to a large extend on its capacity to contribute to society as a whole. School should be run by a group of people or individual who believe in inculcating in children values and skills which will enable them to contribute positively to the Indian society. There must be quality oriented holdings on the Islamic ethos and values. Education today is a transformed competitive word with the increase number of school and institution. Indian and International bounds and curriculum state of art infrastructures in house and on going teacher training, excellent professional development opportunities. Standard seem to be getting better and better. Begin with a mainstream school is a biggest challenge for our community who will run it, our values is proving to be the real test. Today’s little sons will be tomorrow Young adolescents.


In a society which very explicitly believe in living for today, living for oneself and do not accountable for anyone, we must talk students aakhira conscious, hijab, segregation, accountability and family life. Preaching values that appears an extremely impossible task and a huge challenge for any school to taken on. But we should believe if mindset or attitudes, according behaviour and character them underlying faith and belief system needs to be strengthen. One way or other we should denies the develop the most of creative to do this in time with contemporary pedagogies. Various Arabic language teaching strategies, a customised dynamic value based integrated, who school policy which includes Salah in congregation adolescent health programme. Who school projects, competitions, debates and workshops, segregation and yet gender equality, a thinking and active curriculum, co-curriculum or personality development and leadership opportunities are all strategies. To aid this humungous responsibility to rowing against tide constantly and vigourously. And a growth trend that periodically exhibits, systematic renovation of curriculum strengthening of teaching skill, improvement of organisational structure and involvements of parents, all components of successful and growing schools.


As Winston Churchill Said, ‘Success is not final and failure is not fatal, it is the will to continue that counts”.


[Dr. Shabistan Gaffar is Chairperson, Committee on Girls’ Education, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Government of India, New Delhi. She can be contacted at shabistangaffar@rediffmail.com]

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