The present-day education system in Indian, by and large, is based on two types of public and private institutions. The condition of public schools is dilapidated all over the country. Teachers do not take classes, students pass by tuition. The number of convent mission schools is of highest standard in private schools, they are very expensive as well. Ordinary Muslims cannot afford to send their children to these schools. Only the elite class and wealthy people of the community have a chance there, who are very few among the Muslims.
However, recently some modern Muslim educational groups have sprung up and come to the fore, on the educational front. They are as follows:
Sir Syed Mission School, Al-Amin Group Bangalore, Shaheen Group Bedar Karnataka, Islamic Mission School and Al-Barakat Education Foundation of Aligarh; they have set up branches in various cities in India.
In North Karnataka, Gulbarga’s Khwaja Gesudraz Khanqah is also active in the field of modern education. In Kerala, the Centre for Sunni Culture in Kozhikode and the Darul Huda Islamic University in Hidaya Nagar, to name a few, are some of the modern Islamic institutions successfully experimenting a combination of religious and modern education for Indian Muslims.
It would be a great injustice not to mention here the significant initiative taken by AMU to establish the Bridge Course for graduates of the madrassas to enable them get enrolled in the mainstream modern education system. The good news is that these madrasa graduates are far better off than their peers who passed out of English schools.
Sir Syed Education Society, headed by Lieutenant General Zameeruddin Shah, former Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh and brother of famous Indian film star Naseeruddin Shah, has come up with an educational plan to open a qualitatiy esucation institution and a school in every district of the country or where there is a significant Muslim population at a cost of R s 20 million. If the plan goes a little further, there could be a revolution in the education conditions of the community. But the leaders of this society will be asked not to keep the tuition fees so high in tuning with high standards that ordinary Muslims might not be able to benefit from it.
There is a big misconception among the religious Muslims about the secular education system, wherein, to them, only materialism is taught and children are made irreligious. This is not the case in general. Mission schools and the government as well are giving a bit attention to moral values. A lot of private schools run by right wing organizations propagate a hateful and violent ideology which is inculcated in the minds of students. It is more dangerous than secular materialism. However, the general atmosphere in secular education and the style of teaching and learning make the students job oriented. They want to become more efficient to earn good money. No more, no less. After completing the course, most of the students dream of becoming good clerks, good bureaucrats and good officers or becoming engineers and doctors. Serving society and humanity is not a big issue. This situation is more prevalent in the fields of medical and IIT sectors. Where students study by donating millions and sometimes crores.
No doubt In this system, the scientific atmosphere prevails. Today’s science is considered as atheistic by religious people. To me, it is a misnomer, for today’s science, more correct to say, is agnostic. It does not believe in the existence of God, neither does it negate it, rather, metaphysical debates do not fall within its purview.
In Today’s world, Aristotle’s worldview has been rejected globally. And the worldview that is currently ruling the roost intellectually is based on the scientific ideas of Einstein and Darwin.
In the Indian context, the role of Muslims in the establishment of a secular education system has been quite insufficient. Muslims of recent times have not much in this regard after independence. The other system of education is that of madrassa, about which some antagonists have spread false rumours. Speculations show that the number of madrasas going children are not less than ten percent. Most of the illiterate, poor and deprived Muslims turn to this system However, sometimes rich Muslims also come here.
The benefits of this system are as follows:
- It is the largest educational network of Muslims. Call it an NGO network, which is helping to educate a large number of Muslim children who cannot go to school or college.
- They cater to the religious needs of the community.
- Muslim religious organizations of national repute and parties get workers and activists from them.
- They help to maintain their Muslim [read religious] identity in a very hostile environment.
However, this education system has its own shortcomings and when it comes to modernization of madrassas ulema and madrasa people make excuses that only four percent of Muslim children go to Madrasas so why bother about these three or four per cent of community children ? They should be left to their own, they will somehow survive. The remaining 96% should be focussed on instead. My question is that if there are 4 percent blind and the rest are in good health, so on this excuse if no measures will be taken to cure the 4%, wouldn’t it be cruel to keep them blind?
Ordinary Muslims rely on madrassas for their education or rely on government schools and cannot afford to send their children to high-fee private schools. The shortcomings of government schools are a tragedy, but it is welcome that the Delhi government is improving the quality of public schools, and now so much attention has been paid to this. The Muslim community also has its own special problems in the field of education. The educational tendencies of Christians are very different from the educational tendencies of Muslims. The Christian community is very small in number but they have proved their usefulness in this field. The result is that they have colleges whose quality is guaranteed and in which everyone wants to send their children to learn. Being beneficial has given an extra benefit to Christians everywhere in the country. There is a lot to be learned from them. Muslims should establish their model schools in large numbers wherein basic religious education should also be provided on the one hand and on the other they should make their madrassas modern, and up-to-date. This way the shortage of modern schools can be met to a large extent.
Today, the world has become a global village. And it has shrunk to the click of your computer, nay, to your mobile. So, no community or nation can be cut off from other nations and communities. Living in the past glories will not work, for that glorious past is long gone. Today our situation is worse and the future depends a lot on our actions today. Therefore, we need to take faster steps than others.
By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef, Research Associate Centre for Educational and Cultural Advancement of Indian Muslims