Stuck in Shallow waters
In my last blog, I discussed about how non-muslims are taking part in West Bengal madrassas. In this one, I will discuss about why West Bengal muslims are still struggling to get out of ‘shallow waters’ – to join mainstream education. The article I would like to take as benchmark, is written by a couple of Muslim educationists of West Bengal.
The facts they pointed out are :
1) Indian literacy rate still has weaker impact among socially backward communities, like 59%(Muslims), 52% (SC/STs), females (54%) against all-India average of 65% (2001 cencus). The literacy is lower among rural areas (59%), a figures that could have got worse if slums in cities would have counted inside it.
2) Coming to West Bengal case, 30% Muslim children never really enroll in schools, whereas the overall state average 14.2%. The literacy rate for Muslims (47%) is still way behind of that of Hindus(72%).
3) In India, only 3% of Indian Muslim children in age group 7-15 enrolls in madrassas, the rate is 5% in West Bengal. There are many Bengali Muslim children who attend both mainstream education and madrassa education, similar to what is popular in Kerala. These ‘maqtab’s complement the secular mainstram education.
4) It is a failure of West Bengal government not to cover all sections of society. The needs are – attention to the education in Muslim majority areas, provide hostel facilities to Muslim girls and recognition of madrassas.
The whole article missed an important point that I would like to take into account, is the poverty of Muslims in West Bengal. The people in South Bengal still dominates the rest in all fields, and they’re really way ahead of others. This is partly because of they were the first among the country to adopt science and social reforms. They were the first in India to adopt to knowledge based jobs under the British govt. Hence, the edge they have, both economically and socially, is unlikely to disappear. At the same time, the Muslims are still mostly rural, stuck in poverty. To bring them to mainstram jobs, major education reforms are to be introduced, the sooner the better, at least before this ‘class difference’ translates into a ‘class hatred’.