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Progress of Muslim girls education over 24 years
By Nusrat & Ahmad Rashid Shervani

In 1976, we started a scheme to raise academic standards and improve Board Examination results of Muslim Inter Colleges in Uttar Pradesh. UP is too big. So, let us take it up half by half. First, the better half. Yes, we mean Muslim girls first and that too only in the better half of UP, excluding the crude and rude Western UP. We searched for Muslim girls’ Inter Colleges and in about 30 districts in this whole area, which may be called the sweet, civilized Central and Eastern UP. We could find only ten Muslim girls’ Inter Colleges, located in eight cities, two in Lucknow, two in Allahabad and one each in Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Basti, Azamgarh, Jaunpur and Lakhimpur Kheri. There were about ten million Muslims in this part of UP in 1976, more than the population of each of about ten Muslim/Islamic countries. Only 10 Inter Colleges for the daughters of 10 million Muslims. That was the position in 1976.

Islam fervently pleads for education. Utlubul ‘ilma minal mahdi ila’l-lahdi: ‘Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.’ Utlubul ilma wa law fis-Seen: ‘Acquire knowledge even if you have to go to China for it.’ No other religion lays so much stress on education. And, believe it or not, Islam most categorically commands the faithful to educate their daughters. Talabul ilm fareezatun ala kulle Muslimin wa Muslimatin. Education is compulsory (yes, fareeza) for each and every Muslim man and for each and very Muslim woman. Yet, in the fifteenth century of Islam, in 1976, in the better half of UP, there was just one Muslim girls’ college per million Muslims!

From all these colleges taken together, only 562 Muslim girls had appeared for the XII Board Examination in 1976 and 339 or 60 percentage had passed. From 6 of these Muslim girls’ Inter Colleges, 205 non-Muslim girls had also appeared for the same examination and 157 or 77 percent had passed. Yes, even in our own precious ‘Muslim’ colleges the pass-percent of our own dear daughters was much poorer than that of their non-Muslim classmates. Further, in these days of stiff competition just passing an examination is not enough. First Division is more important than just passing. Out of 205 non-Muslim girls, 3 or about 1.5 percent had attained first division. Out of 562 Muslim girls, not even one had been able to attain first division in 1976, we repeat, not even one!

Then what happened? In this brief report, we shall see the progress and improvement in 24 years, from 1976 to 2000. From the very same colleges, 1889 Muslim girls appeared for the Class XII or Intermediate Board Examination and 1792 or 95 percent passed while 455 non-Muslim girls appeared and 439 or 96 percent passed in 2000. The average success of Muslim girls improved from 60 percent in 1976 to 95 percent and of non-Muslim girls from 77 percent to 96 percent. Even now the pass percentage of non-Muslim girls is better, but only very slightly. Yes, believe it or not, Muslim girls have almost caught-up with their non-Muslim classmates.

The number of appeared candidates for the Inter Board Examination increased: Muslims from 562 to 1889 or 3.4 times and non-Muslims from 205 to 455 or about 2.2 times. The number passed increased: Muslims from 339 to 1792, More than five times and non-Muslims from 157 to 439 or less than three times. The rate of increase in the number of Muslim girls appeared and passed is higher. Much needed too, as Muslims are still far, far behind others in education.

As we say again and again, mere passing is not enough. In these days of (stiff is no word) killing competition, our children need at least first division marks in Inter to even get admission in some useful course of studies in some decent university, even in our own dear Aligarh Muslim University. The number of non-Muslim first divisionsers increased from 3 in 1976 to 129 in 2000, about forty-three times. In the same span of time, the number of Muslim first divisionsers increased from zero 249. However, the proportion of first division among non-Muslim girls’ 129/ 455 or 28 percent is still much higher than 249 / 1889 or just 13 percent among Muslim girls. In this regard, Muslim girls are still phisaddi.

Why Muslim girls are inferior to others? Like a recorded tape, some ghamkhwar-e-millat may bemoan and bewail: ‘The Mughal Empire is no more, alas! Muslims are poor, piteous poor. Ever threatened, Muslims shudder all the time. Muslims are discriminated against, are denied government jobs so what incentive have they to excel in studies? The partition has made the Indian Muslims orphans… How can the poor, persecuted, brutalized, have not Muslims do as well as the have-it-all non-Muslims?

Rubbish, we say. In the same area, in nineteen colleges (nine new Muslim girls’ colleges, nine co-educational Muslim colleges and also one Christian College) out of 945 Muslim girls appeared, 145 or 15 percent got first divisions while out of 239 non-Muslim girls appeared, 38 or 16 percent got first divisions. Hardly any difference between the proportion of first divisions among Muslim and non-Muslim girls. In fact if we take the results of eighteen colleges (first three of the ten old and first fifteen of the nineteen new) we find that out of 753 Muslim girls 229 or 30.4 percent got first division while out of 466 non-Muslim girls 138 or 29.6 percent got first division. So, in these 18 colleges, Muslim girls have done slightly better. What does any ghamkhwaar-e-millat say about this?

Then how are Muslim girls phisaddi in all 29 colleges together? That is the question. A problem which pertains to only 11 out of 29 colleges should be tackled in those colleges specifically. In fact, even out of these 11, the problem of low proportion of first divisions among Muslim girls is acute in just 8 colleges with much below average first divisions. These are: Imambara Muslim of Gorakhpur and Muslim Jubilee of Kanpur 7 percent, Abul Kalam Azad of Lakhimpur Kheri 6 percent, Muslim of Fatehpur 3 percent first divisions, then three (Muslim Niswan of Tanda, Talimgahe Niswan and the girls’ section of Shia college of Lucknow) each with less than one percent first division and the last, Islamia of Obra in district Sonebhadra with zero first division. The reasons for the poor proportion of first divisions in these colleges needs to be seriously considered, first of all, by the Principal and the Management of each of these.

Ahmad Rashid Shervani and his wife Nusrat
are relentlessly promoting education in the community through Bharat Sewa Trust

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