'Indian Muslim Women remain unrepresented and unheard even after 60 years of Independence'

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 09 November 2013 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar

Sixty years after independence also the Indian Muslim women have remained unrepresented and unheard. The Sachar Committee appointed by the Prime Minister established the fact of poverty and socio-economic exclusion of the largest minority in recent decades. Although the report is sympathetic to Muslim women, it does not have detailed analysis of the condition and issues faced by them. Women in every community are victim of neglect, discrimination and some of the other form of injustice. This is true for Muslim women too. However, as has been pointed out by many perceptive observers, Muslim women constitute “Minority within minority”. The lot of the poorer section of Muslim women is far worse.

In today's fast changing society the rights of women is at stake and their position has become very much vulnerable. The balance between the rights of women and its protection and her family and social responsibilities is totally disturbed. Women have to play role in society, family and country. They are to be made to fulfil the responsibilities as daughter, sister, mother, wife, daughter in law and as a citizen of the country.

If we talk about overall empowerment of women in India, since the country became independent in 1947, the democratic government has tried to introduce measures to empower women, yet the expected measure of success has not occurred due to reasons like, bureaucratic delays, political compulsions, social and cultural constraints and the continuing poverty of the masses. Obtaining some measures of economic self sufficiency and independence is prerequisite to any advancement of women at social, cultural and political level.

The silver lining in the cloudy sky has been the development of several grass roots movements initiated by women themselves, especially those from the lower section of society.

No, less important than the government’s initiatives are society own mutually caring and cooperative actions which strengthen the ethos of social harmony and inter-dependence, exclusive thinking, exclusive concerns and excessive reliance on exclusive policies can never lead to inclusive development. Much less will it promote social and national integration, which must form the bed rode of both government and societal effort for inclusive development.

Yet another shortcoming in the debate and governmental and action that followed the Sachar report is that the problems and concerns of Muslim women have been largely bypassed. Grossly inadequate attention has been paid to the condition of Muslim women, their socio-economic and educational backwardness, and the efforts needed to bring them into nation’s development mainstream.

Muslims lag behind in education which is largely responsible for most of the problems faced by the community. If women of the community are educated, things would change as women are the axis of Indian families. Muslim women could reform the whole family moreover this will help her in protection of her rights and controlling crimes against women.

The educational and economic backwardness in which community lives make it necessary for policy makers to take urgent steps to alleviate this condition. The greater of multiple exclusion of women calls for a thorough analysis leading to understanding of their need and issues followed by multi-prolonged action to make a change the destination is equal citizenship of Muslim women in principle and in reality as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The recent census of India has brought out a positive fact about the sex ration in the Muslim community being better than most other socio-religious communities. There is need to build further on this positive trend by paying equal attention to the education of girls and health and nutrition for the girl children and the mothers.

Apart from health care and nutrition, girls need opportunities for higher education, they need safety and security in order to access education of their choice. They need support and encouragement at home and in the community to realize their full potential as human beings. It calls for policy measures and financial allocations by the government apart from a supportive atmosphere in the family. Educated and empowered girls can be the change agents for an empowered community in the future. Social empowerment in general and women empowerment in particular is very fundamental in achieving such kind of goals.

Territory education is especially important so that women can move into positions of political, economical and social leadership. It is well known that Muslim women are home based working women, the Sachar Committee too endorsed this finding. There are women who missed out on education opportunities but are nevertheless working informally and out of homes. They work for very low wages and often in hazardous activities like beedi making and other activities posing hazard to eyes, lungs and skin.

They mostly underpaid or unpaid and exploited by middlemen. These women need support, mechanism at multiple levels beginning with skill training, skill upgradation, marketing support and financial support etc.

In fact, the voluntary organizations and experts faces lot of challenges in their work for empowerment of Muslim women. The work must happen at various levels, apart from continuous advocacy and campaigning for governmental accountability. They face the challenge of correcting and building understanding and perspective in the community society.

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

Providing proper and modern education to Muslim community children important, says NCMEI Chairman Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 10 January 2013 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar

The Eight Foundation Day function of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi and the release of the “Report and Recommendation on Minority Girls’ Education” prepared by the Committee on Girls’ Education constituted by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions was held at the Mavalankar Auditorium, Rafi Marg, New Delhi on the 28th of December 2012. The function witnessed a mammoth crowd of more than 1,000 people from different parts of India, particularly the stakeholders of minority educational institutions in various parts of India, bureaucrats, social activists, educationalists, journalists, teachers, lawyers etc.

Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju, Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development, Govt. of India graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and delivered a splendid inaugural address; Dr. K. Rahman Khan, Minister for Minority Affairs, Govt. of India made his presence as the Special Guest and Jitin Prasada, Hon’ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Govt. of India presided over the entire function. Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairman, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Dr. Mohinder Singh and Zafar Agha, Member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Dr. Shabistan Gaffar, Chairperson, Committee on Girls’ Education, NCMEI and Dr. Fazal Gafoor, General Secretary, Muslim Educational Society (MES), Kerala addressed the gathering and put forth their valuable suggestions and recommendations.

Eminent personalities from different parts of India, like Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities; Safdar Khan, Chairman, Delhi State Minorities Commission; Dr. Sanyam Bhardwaj, Director, NIOS, Govt. of India; Mr. B.S. Ramoowalia, Former Member, NCMEI; Chairman and Members of the State Minority Commissions of different States; Mehbubul Hoque, Chancellor, University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya; Mr. Nayeemur Rehman, Director, MGR University, Tamilnadu; P.A. Hamza, Kerala State Co-ordinator, NCMEI; Members of the Committee on Girls’ NCMEI Mrs. Abeda P. Inamdar, Dr. S. Sumayaa, Prof. Dr. Qamar Rehman, Dr. Najma Akhtar, Mrs. Jowahira Tabassum, Mrs. Lovina Khan, Mrs. Aitya Mushtaque, Mrs. Farah Khan, Co-ordinator, NCMEI; and other dignitaries from all over India also participated in the function. The function was started with the lighting of lamp by the guests.

Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui addressing the gathering
Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairman, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Govt. of India, New Delhi, welcomed all the guests. In his welcome address he highlighted the powers and functions of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions and asked the members of the minority communities to avail of the facilities. He also explained the need for providing proper and modern education to the children of the Muslim community, particularly Muslim girls. He also presented the statistical datas about the institutions to which the Commission granted Minority status certificate and also pointed out the major problems being facing by the minorities communities in India like, non-granting of NOC by the State Govt., Non-approval of the appointment of teaching and non-teaching staffs etc. and also the safeguards available under the Indian Constitution. He also urged that the minority community should also make concerted efforts to develop our country as a major educational hub.

Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju, Minister for Human Resource Development, Govt. of India, inaugurated the function. In his inaugural address he pointed out that Education is power. Education being the most effective instrument for social and economic empowerment and vital for horizontal and vertical mobility in the society, it is imperative to promote education among allother backward sections, especially the minorities, who have fallen far behind the national average in education. He said that the Sachar Committee as well as other studies have found that the reason for the relative social and economic backwardness of the minorities, especially of the Muslims, is due to their educational backwardness and therefore, in order to pull such minorities, constituting approximately 18.42% of the country’s population from the brink of marginalization and to infuse a sense of inclusiveness in the national mainstream, it is essential to enhance education of the minorities. He also highlighted the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programmes for the welfare of Minorities.

He also appreciated the NCMEI headed by Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui that during the short period since its establishment since November, 2004, the Commission has issued 7021 Minority Status Certificates to the educational institutions and has also disposed off 13147 out of 14908 petitions/applications and it is also a very cost effective way of providing minority status to institutions as also to grant of affiliation of minorities educational institutions which is indeed praiseworthy.

He also highlighted the role and importance of minority educational institutions and Madrasas in nation building. He assured that the Governmentwill do its best to promote education and overall welfare of the Minorities in general and of the Muslims, constituting major chunk of the Minorities, in particular and at the same time stressed that, the constitutional mandate of Article 30(1) can only be achieved with the participation and co-operation of the general public.

During the end of his speech he thanked the Chairman and Members of the NCMEI and wished all the success in their endeavour of educational empowerment of minorities.

K. Rahman Khan addressing the gathering
Dr. K. Rahman Khan, Minister for Minority Affairs, Govt. of India, who was the Special Guest of the function delivered an enthusiastic and informative speech on the educational status of minorities in India. He highlighted that the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions is an effective body to protect and preserve the educational rights and privileges guaranteed to the minorities under the Constitution of India. He urged the audience to make use and avail the powers of the NCMEI like, Minority Status Certificate, granting of NOC to get affiliation/recognition, permission to get affiliation from any affiliating university, approval of the appointment of teaching and non-teaching staffs etc.

He said that the minorities are equally important to their counterpart and the educational empowerment of minorities can be the only remedial measure in this regard.

During the Programme an Award of Excellence for the Year 2012 from the National Commission for Minority Educational Institution has been presented to P.A. Hamza, Kerala State Co-Ordinator, NCMEI, for his outstanding services and contribution in the field of minorities’ education.

Jitin Prasada, Hon’ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Govt. of India presided over the function. In his presidential address he highlighted the importance of vocational and technical education in the minority educational institutions and the need of empowering minority women through education. He also appreciated the NCMEI for rendering outstanding services for the minorities in the last few years. He stressed that the NCMEI is playing a very positive role in the process of stabilizing of our secular fabric.

On the eve of the programme the “Report and Recommendation on Minority Girls’ Education” prepared by the Committee on Girls’ Education constituted by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions was released and the same was submitted to Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju, Minister for Human Resource Development, Govt. of India, and Jitin Prasada, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Govt. of India, for their favourable consideration and appropriate action.

Dr. Shabistan Gaffar speaking
Dr. Shabistan Gaffar, Chairperson, Committee on Girls’ Education, NCMEI, introduced the “Report and Recommendation on Minority Girls’ Education” and made brief Power Point presentation on Committee on Girls’Education. In her presentation she highlighted major points like; Background of the Committee on Girls’ Education, Aims and Objectives of the Committee, the work pattern of the Committee, Findings of the Committee; Regional Conferences, Suggestions and Recommendations etc. At the conclusion of the presentation she stressed that Equality, Education, Enabling environment and Empowerment are the major mantras for bringing the minority girls in mainstream, so that girls are provided with equal opportunity for survival and development, protected against neglect and abuse, and offered the enabling means to develop to their full potential and lead a productive and healthy life.

She thanked all her colleague members of the Committee on Girls’ Education, Stakeholders of Minority Educational Institutions, Bureaucrats, Social activists, educationalists and all the people who have rendered their selfless service and contribution for bringing out such an outstanding report and recommendation of Minority Girls’ Education.

The report and recommendation on Minority Girl’s Education are available in the website of NCMEI: www.ncmei.gov.in.

Dr. Mohinder Singh, Member, Commitbtee on Girls’ Education, in his address highlighted the importance of modern and mainstream education along with the Madrasa education. He highlighted that the Madrasas in India are playing a vital role in providing education to the Muslim minority communities inIndia and at the same he suggested that stress should be given for providing more job oriented and vocational education to the students.

Dr. Fazal Gafoor, General Secretary, Muslim Educational Society, Kerala also made an elegant address on the issues being faced by the minorities in India. He highlighted that his organization is running more than 100 minority educational institutions in India and abroad. He said that the Muslims in Kerala are highly educationally empowered to their counterpart and the need is to replicate the educational and social systems to other States of India.

The programme ended with a vote of thanks by Zafar Agha, Member, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. He thanked all the delegates who have come from faraway places and sparing their valuable time for making the function a great success.

[Dr. Shabistan Gaffar is Chairperson, Committee on Girls' Education, Nationaal Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi.]

NCMEI initiative helps over 400 students of BTAD rehabilitated in first phase of programme

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 November 2012 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar

Guwahati: “Let us build bridges to connect the communities in conflict,” was the message given by R.S. Mooshahary, Governor of Meghalaya. He was speaking at the flag off ceremony of sponsorships for educational rehabilitation of strife-affected students of BTAD of Assam that was held at Sankardev Kalakshetra Auditorium, Guwahati in presence of Justice MSA Siddiqui, Chairman, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Ministry of HRD, Government of India; Education, Research and Development Foundation (ERD Foundation), Guwahati; and supported by Committee on Girls’ Education, NCMEI; and All India Confederation for Women Through Education, New Delhi. Mooshahary further said that once we have built the bridges and there is trust among people, then nobody can come and disturb. Education, he said, could play a big role in enabling the people to build bridges.

Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairman, NCMEI, Ministry of HRD, Government of India, who is the spirit behind this noble project extended his hearty thanks to all the sponsors either at the organisational level or as individual who donated and through which the first phase of scholarships to more than 400 students of BTAD were distributed. He recalled his earlier meeting of 8th September, 2012 at Guwahati attended by members of the premier educational institutions, who had voluntarily adopted strife affected students for their educational rehabilitation. He felicitated one of the cook namely Mr. Mintu Ali from Guwahati who has sponsored one child from the affected area by paying a sum of Rs.500/- out of his meagre income. He appealed to the audience that everybody should contribute for educational rehabilitation of these unfortunate students. According to him, this is a major contribution for attainment of the peace as communalism can de defeated through education.

Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, who is the world renowned Islamic Scholar, reformist-cum-author and human rights activist, also contributed for this cause through the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) and in his inspiring address he said communal violence has not only taken place in Kokrajhar but it is an outburst of hatred. He also stressed on education that will defeat the communalism.

Prof Akhter Siddiqui, former Chairman of National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE), and Deen, Faculty of Education Department, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, stressed on the fact that education alone can change the lot of the deprived sections of the society and hence the studies of their children should not allowed to be hampered at any cost.

Dr. NK Choudhury, former VC of Gauhati University, also lauded the work of ERDF and Centre for Educational Rehabilitation (CER) and said that while most other organisations were busy distributing blankets or holding rallies, it is this initiative which focussed on an issue that is of great relevance – education.

Mahbubul Hoque, Chairman ERDF, made a power point presentation which gave the historical background of the conflict in BTAD and the plight of the students whose educational activities have come to a standstill on account of the strife there. He also mentioned about a survey undertaken by ERDF that covered about 14,000 affected students, the selection tests conducted by ERDF where more than 2,000 students appeared and about the first phase of the project which is rehabilitating over 400 students from primary to PG level enabling them to pursue their courses without any hindrance.

Dr. Shabistan Gaffar, Chairperson, Committee for Girls Education NCMEI, extended the vote of thanks to all the dignitaries, who have graced occasion and appreciated their motivational addresses. She also thanked to all the delegates who have come from different parts of Assam and from different State of India and abroad for supporting the initiative jointly taken by the Committee on Girls’ Education, NCMEI and ERD Foundation, Guwahati under the patronage of Hon’ble Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairman, NCMEI under the project “Centre for Educational Rehabilitation”.

Mrs. Abeda P. Inamdar, Vice-Chairperson, Committee on Girls’ Education, NCMEI; Dr Jamal, Registrar, MES Kerala; Dr Fakhruddin, Hon. Secretary, MESCO Hyderabad; Syed M. Hussaini, PEO, Seed, Texas USA; Dr. Taj Mohammed Khan, Secretary, Rifa Educational Society, Mysore, Karnataka; and Mr. Abdur Rehman Amodi, Director, Amodi Constructions, Aurangabad had also addressed the audience.

Scholarships amounting Rupees 9 lakhs were distributed to 150 students affected by the strife towards six month post-metric scholarships at the rate of Rs.1000 per month. Arrangements were also made for rehabilitating 250 students upto secondary level through various educational institutions at the rate of Rs. 36000/- per annum (@3000 p.m.).

Process for establishment of a residential Women’s College was initiated by laying foundation stone at Badarpur, District Karimganj, Assam. The foundation stone was laid by Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairman, NCMEI on 10th November, 2012.

At the end of the programme, the students had a meeting with their donors and heads of educational institutions. A batch of 40 primary and middle school level students boarded the bus on their way to Badarpur where they would be provided residential education at the Central Public School, Badarpur. Mr. Mahbubul Hoque, Chairman, ERD Foundation said that 1900+ students of class IV, V & VI appeared for the selection test amount 14,000 strife affected students & have identified 100 in the first phase & hopefully another 500 by January and 150 post-metric students for scholarship & hopefully by next academic session 2000 students will be adopted by different minority institutions across the country.

[Dr. Shabistan Gaffar is Chairperson, Committee on Girls' Education, Nationaal Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi.]

Gender Equity and access; Special focus on Muslim Girls and Open Schooling

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 17 May 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar

On 14th and 15th March, 2012 two days National Seminar was organised by National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) on the theme ‘Connecting Girls, Inspiring Future, gender equity and Open Schooling. It was organised by NIOS at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. Speakers and participants of the Seminar were from all over the country including, academicians, social activist, educationalists, etc from different Government and Non-Government organisations and institutions.

Being the Academic Member NIOS, I was told to present the paper, on the eve of International Women Day as a Celebration of economic, social, cultural and political achievement made by women in India recognising their contribution to nation building. Within the framework of a democratic polity, our laws, our development policies and programmes have aimed at women’s advancement in different sphere. Yet, school education statistics 2009-10 shows that half of the girls dropout before the complete secondary level of schooling in India. This becomes even more acute or disadvantaged sections like SC & Minorities, where more than three quarter of girls fail to complete secondary level of schooling.

I listen all the speakers who have different perspective at religious level as well as social level for empowerment of women. But I shared that when Islam exists before 1400 years the firsts verse was revealed to Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.) Iqra (Seek and acquire Knowledge both men and women) and other rights which Islam has given to women. Then I shared with them the successful Islamic Women Feminists during Prophet’s time and how successful and learned they were. I also shared the low level of education of Muslim girls owe not religion but to poverty. According to my concept the Muslim community of girls leave school faster than any other community. The reason ascribed for this glaring trend comprise illiteracy of parents,. poverty, non availability of girls’ school in neighbourhood, chid labour, early marriage, perceived barrier regarding of other non- encouraging atmosphere at home, lesser number of female teachers as compared to male teachers, improper infrastructure, non-availability of girls’ hostels in town and smaller cities and the like. Generally speaking, illiterate parents do not value and support girls’ education especially in challenging situations.

The Muslims record the highest incidence of poverty with 31% of people being poor. The average literacy rate was 50.1% for Muslim women and 53.7% for all communities. Gender disparity in literacy rates is 9.67% in rural and 13.11% in urban areas. Only 3.6% Muslims are graduates as compared to the National Average of 6.7%. Mean Years of Schooling (MYS) for 7-16 years of age in 2001 was 3.9 years. In that it was 3.26 years for Muslims and 2.7 years for Muslim girls.

In India as a whole,, Muslim girls’ school enrolment rates continue to be low: 40.6%, as compared to 63.2% in the case of ‘upper’ caste Hindus. In rural north India it is only 13.5%, in urban north India 23.1%, and in rural and urban south India, above 70%, which is above the all-India average for all girls. Only 16.1% of Muslim girls from poor families attend schools, while 70% of Muslim girls from economically better-off families do so, thus clearly suggesting that low levels of education of Muslim girls owe not to religion but to poverty.

Less than 17% of Muslim girls finish eight years of schooling and less than 10% complete higher secondary education. In the north the corresponding figures are 4.5% and 4.75% respectively, compared to the national female average of 17.8% and 11.4%. Only 1.5% rural Muslims, both boys and girls, and 4.8% urban Muslim children are enrolled in senior secondary schools.

The average number of years that Muslim girls study is a dismal 2.7 years, as compared to 3.8 years in the case of Hindu girls. The number of years that a Muslim girl studies in north India is half that of her south Indian counterpart In other words, on the whole, Muslim girls are characterized by a low enrolment rate and a very high drop-out rate from the formal schooling system.

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.

In this context, the National Commission for Minority Educational institutions taken a laudable decision in forming the Committee on Girls Education for studying and analyzing the situation of girls of minority communities and to recommend specific proposal to the Commission for alleviating the same.

The Committee on Girls’ Education as constituted by the NCMEI, has practically worked for more than two years in discharging its assigned responsibilities. During the period of more than two years as the Chairperson of the Committee I travelled more than 18 States, visited hundreds of organizations running thousands of minority girls’ institutions from primary to professional level, met lakhs of people across the country and interacted with minority community especially those who are involved with girls’ education, particularly students, teachers and management to find out what are their challenges and issues for empowerment of women through education. Some of them shared very innovations in girls education.

The enrolment figures in schools, for girls are comparatively lower than those for that of boys indicating that my girls do not get enrolled in schools. Thirty four percent of girls dropout before they complete class 5. One of the major reasons why so many girls do not attend the school is because of their work load, both within and outside the household. Daughters are often kept at home to help the family because the social economic value of educating girls is not recognized. It is little known fact that among the world’s exploited child workers, girls outnumber boys. Without access to education girls is denied the knowledge and skills needed to advance their status.

Special measure are required for this purpose to protect the girl child’s prospects of survival and security, from conception to birth, in her early years, and throughout the period of her childhood. Both child development and primary health services must be on alert to address these challenges, and the community must be motivated to play a protective role. The focus should be on five Es- equality, enabling environment and empowerment so that she is provided with equal opportunity for survival and development, protected against neglect and abuse, and offered the enabling means to develop to their full potential and lead a productive and healthy life.

Education of women is Promotion of Girls’ Education particularly at Elementary level is to bring certain benefits for the society in the form of social development and reconstruction. Promotion of Education of Girls needs to be in the form of content and quality of schooling, teachers, materials, enrolments, retentions, acquisitions of basic literacy and numeric skills.

As one of the major goals of education is to promote social justice, all gender and social category gaps are expected at primary level to be achieved by 2012 and at elementary level by 2015. In view of elementary education being a fundamental right of all children in the age group of 06-14 years as per the Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 and the Right of Children o Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

The need to encourage all girls to enrol in school and to retain them in the school system is imperative as education not only improves the worth and self esteem of the girl chid but also enables her to become an economically independent and productive.

An important reason for girls’ dropping out of schooling is lack of proper toilet and sanitary facilities. High priority is therefore needed to be accorded to providing separate girls’ toilet with proper water and sanitation facilities. Efforts through Department of Education should be made to increase the number of female teachers at all levels so as to encourage girl chid to continue in school in a safer environment.

Further, Bridge Schools with quality package should provide to girl children, especially street children, child labourers, seasonal migrants, who may have not been in formal education system. These bridge schools should ultimately lead to their integration in the formal system. Education policy should also be sensitive towards cultural and linguistic diversity of Indian Society, and therefore uniform standards should not be applied. There should be increased access of minorities in all non-minority institutions.
One issue that is in very of core of girls’ education is the mass education. When it is said that a large number of women are illiterate or have completed only primary education then in that case the reference is being made to millions of them. It is hardly possible to create school infrastructure for all of them so that they could pursue their studies if somehow they become interested to do so. The existing infrastructure is already under heavy burden. In such a situation distance mode of education seems a panacea for women education in the country. As back as by 1966 the Education Commission endorsed the importance of masse education in these words, “…Besides, the knowledge explosion and the consequent demand for acquiring news skills and knowledge is placing pressure on the educational system to accommodate more and more…”  Presently, around 3 million students join distance or open mode of learning, half of them appear for exam in secondary and senior secondary certificates through the National Institute of Open Schooling and the rest pursue their higher education through this system mainly through IGNOU and other authorised universities.
NIOS has been providing tremendous job for bringing the minority girls in the mainstream through open schooling education.

Let me quote about what NIOS has been providing.

NIOS provides education upto pre-degree level to those who for one reason or the another could not or did not make use of the formal education system. NIOS offers the courses to meet the needs and requirements of such group of learners. However, it needs to be made clear that open schooling is for all learners of the society and offers the promise of being the mainstream learning system like the present day of formal schooling system at some point of time in future.
The NIOS has introduced the Open Basic Education (OBE) Programme as an alternative educational Programme to align with the objective of Ministry of Human Resrouce Development (MHRD), Government of India to provide Basic Education to all children, youth and adults in the country under its Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), OBE Programmes of NIOS is equivalent to the Elementary Education Programmme of the formal education system. It is offered at the following three levels.

Level A: Equivalent to Class-3
Level B : Equivalent to Class-5
Level C: Equivalent to Class-8

The Secondary Course is equivalent to 10th standard of the formal schooling system. One can join this course irrespective of an formal pre-qualification. Successful completion of minimum of five subjects is necessary for obtaining a certificate. Wide range of subjects available to choose from. The course may be completed in a minimum period of one year to a maximum are of 5 years.

The Senior Secondary courses are designed for those who have passed X standard or equivalent examination and would like to continue their education towards a Senior Secondary certification, equivalent to XII standard. The course is recognized by many boards of school education and bye several universities for admission to higher education.

The NIOS vocational courses are offered at pre secondary, senior secondary levels. The pre-secondary courses are linked to the Open Basis Education Programme of NIOS. Life enrichment courses are also offered as non-credit courses under the vocational stream. The vocational courses of NIOS are offered in broad areas like Agriculture, Engineering and Technology, Home Science, Business and Commerce, Computer Science and IT, Teachers Training, Library Science amongst others. The range of courses has been expanding upon learners’ needs and market demands. The present courses of NIOS relate to both urban and rural sector. During 2010-11, the NIOS offered more than 85 vocational courses.

[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]

Educational Standards of our Nation, Scopes and Improvement

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 01 April 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

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]

Empowerment of Women through Education

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 January 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar

“The Womenhood of India is something of which I am proud, I am proud of their beauty, grace, charm, shyness, modesty, intelligence and their spirit of sacrifices. I think if anybody can truly represent spirit of India I can truly represent by women not by men”. -- Jawaharlal Nehru

It is quite natural for humans to resist change, to change the practice established by forefathers, falsely under the pretext of Pseudo Islamic dictates is much more difficult than anyone could imagine. It calls for a sea change. Islam is over 1400 years old, it is the second largest religion in the world. It hurt me to note that religion and all that Islam, is being projected as the retardant to education of minority girls. No religion shies away from acquiring knowledge. It is sad to say that Muslim women in India have from centuries being suffering from, poverty, cultural and educational backwardness due to the rigid patriarchal social orders and restrictions imposes on them.

Rightly commented by American covert Islam, Yahya M. that at the beginning Islam was most revolutionary liberalization of women rights, the civilized world has ever seen.

There are however, deep seated misconceptions among various communities that Islam does nor attach much importance to education, that Islam does not encourages women to receive education; that Islam does not allow the employment of women and so on, the truth is none the less, just on the opposite. The very first word of the first verse in Glorious Quran emphasizes the all important need of education. It is imperative on all Muslim men and women to gain as much knowledge as could enable them to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. Hazrath Khadeeja (May God be pleased with her) Wife of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) was a successful business women. She exported good articles to Syria and other countries. She was one of the most gifted traders of her time. Hazrat Ayesha (May God be pleased with her) another wife of Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon Him) was most learned lady in Islam. One third of Islamic jurisprudence is derived from her. Renowned Islamic theologians consulted her on delicate matters pertaining to Islam. Hazrat Khansa (May God pleased with her) was one of the most illustrious poetess in Arabic literature during prophet time. She was also a devoted Muslim women at the same time. But the modern period does not paint a very rosy picture of education.

According to census 2011, though the number of literacy rate of people in India has increased over years, She still has the largest number of uneducated children. For example, the literacy rate of Muslim women is 53% according to 2011 census, which is less than the national average literacy rate of women i.e. 65% and the literacy rate of women of other minority communities i.e. Jain 90.6%., Christians 76.2%, Sikh 63.1% and Buddhist 61.7% It clearly depict that the educational empowerment of Muslim girls is very much vital for building an equalent competent community and also for creating an educationally empowered society.

Mahathma Gandhi has rightly said “Educate a man, you educate a person; educate a woman and you educate a family…”

Investing in women’s education is the best way to create positive impact across the country and worldwide. In general, minority women education can be improved by technical advice, standard setting, innovative projects, capacity building and networking. Constitution of India guarantees equality for both men and women. However, the reality on the ground is different. Arrange of indicators confirms that women do not enjoy equality with men economically, socially and politically. Women represent 48% of the total population of our country and comprise its valuable human resource, continue to face disparities. The poor status of women reflects and the indicators of the reflection are poor health, less education, high mortality rate, violence against women. It is due to little or no access to fruits of development.

The gender budgeting is a tool for women empowerment, gender budgeting is a important policy instrument of government as well as non-government organization. It can be a powerful tool in transformation of development of minority women status. The achievement of human development is heavily depending on the development and empowerment of women and girls. Gender budgeting has been internationally recognized as a key tool for empowering women by incorporating gender perspective and concern at all levels and stages of the development planning, policy and delivery mechanism.

Girls’ empowerment is directly linked with over all development of country. Girls’ empowerment is a global issue. It gained momentum in recent decades. The issue of empowerment of girl came up in the light when linked nation declared1975 to be concentrational women’s year. In 1985, an international conference in Nairobi was organized, in which girls from developing and under developed countries introduced the concept of empowerment as counter project to the integration concept for advancing girl. In order to ensure equal access and increased participation in political power structure for women in India 73rd and 74th Amendment (1993) to the Indian Constitution gave a breakthrough government of India celebrated year 2001, as women empowerment year. Several programme like; Mahila Samidhi Yojana, Balika Samridhi Yojana, New and Rashtriya Mohila Khosh, were implemented and seen as the step towards empowerment of girl in India.

The development of any country mostly depends upon its growth of education in society. Progress of society is possible only when its citizens are dynamic, resourceful, enterprising and responsible without such citizens are dynamic, resourceful, enterprising and responsible, without such citizens, progress of country cannot be achieved in any field. Education herein helps in creating such type of citizen.

In the development of any country, primary education helps in creating basic, while higher education is important for providing the cutting edge. Higher education is considered to be one of the most mean of empowering girl with the knowledge. Skills and self confidence are necessary to participate fully in the development process. Education for girl has gained wider role and responsibility all over the world. Today in the twenty first century one cannot afford to ignore the importance of education for girl any longer.

It is an established fact that education plays an important role in empowering girl. Therefore, providing education to the girl in large number is need of the hour. Girls should be equal partners in the filed of education. Girls are required to be encouraged continuously to go for higher education for empowering them so that in turn they participate equally in the development of the society or country.

Dr. Shabistan Gaffar
In the present scenario, girls need to participate fully in the economic activities, otherwise the process of economic development cannot be accelerated in the country like India. There is need to recognize the fact that the engagement with engineering and technology, management and law disciplines are vital for the advancement of girls. Therefore, it is utmost important that necessary steps are be taken to motivate girls in large numbers to enroll in engineering and technology, management and law subject. In order to enhance the girls’ enrolment in professional and technical education in general and law in particular, there is need to establish dedicated higher educational institutions for girl by central govt., state govt., as well as self finance institutions. It will help girls’ students in large number in getting admissions. The course offered by various faculties in higher educational institutions by doing so minority girl attain educational empowerment.

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

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