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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Muslims, educate thyself: IMEFNA

The Indian Muslim Education Foundation of North American (IMEFNA) held a two-day national seminar for its Upward Bound (UB) educational program for under-privileged Indian students at the Hamdard Convention Center, New Delhi, on December 11 and 12, 2003.

IMEFNA was formed by a group of Chicago based NRIs in 1998 to promote quality education among the under-privileged Indian students. Presently IMEFNA is supporting UB programs in five cities in India - Patna, Muzuffarpur, Barauch, Aligrah, and Delhi. The working concept of UB program is that selected 9th grade students be specially prepared through a structured coaching program to enable them to compete successfully for admissions to good universities and professional colleges in India.

Dr. Khursheed Mallick, President IMEFNA, welcomed the guests and the UB teams, comprising of students, teachers, and program administrators from the above five cities. These UB teams actively participated in the seminar and associated workshops. 

Saiyid Hamid emphasized the importance of quality education and enhancement of student motivation through proper guidance using inspiring role models.

Saiyid Hamid, Chancellor of Hamdard University, inaugurated the seminar. He emphasized the importance of quality education and enhancement of student motivation through proper guidance using inspiring role models. He asked the program teachers and administrators not to consider the UB program as an ordinary run-of-the-mill coaching or tutoring scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to change the mind-set of the students and their parents and teachers. Therefore, it was necessary that the parents and teachers should be on-board for the successful implementation of the program through special and sustained efforts. 

The five teams presented their reports covering the selection procedures for the students and the program teachers, their methods for monitoring the studentsí performance, progress of the program implementation, and their plan to track the studentsí future careers. The USA Committee members strongly emphasized the need to quickly attain high quality of coaching and financial self-sufficiency at the UB centers, especially at Patna, which started four years ago.

The importance of a central Research, Assessment and Monitoring Unit (RAMU) under the guidance of Professor Zainuddin was specifically discussed and its purpose and role were explained to all the participants. A coordinating committee comprising of the Director of RAMU and the Directors of the various UB centers was formed to facilitate interaction and the smooth operation of RAMU.

Detailed comments and feedback were invited and discussed at length with the students, teachers and the program administrators separately in three breakout sessions after presentations of individual reports from the five centers and the report of the RAMU Director.

On Saturday, December 11, evening IMEFNA held a dinner for invited educationists, community leaders and the participants. Professor Imtiazuddin made a slide presentation explaining the purpose, vision, structure and current status of IMEFNA which was followed by a documentary produced by the CBSís 60 Minutes film on the graduates of Indian IITs to inspire the UB teams, specially the students.

Syed Shahabuddin, President, AIMMM, delivered the Key Note address at the dinner. He reviewed the progress of mass education in India with reference to the goals of the leaders of the independent movement and the provisions of the Indian Constitution. 

Saiyid Hamid also addressed the audience and again emphasized the importance of quality over quantity and need to inspire members of the under-represented communities to prepare and sit for competitive examinations for civil services, etc.

A very interactive concluding session was held on December 12 morning followed by the Friday prayers and a group lunch hosted by the Godís Grace School Foundation, New Delhi, to which participants were invited. 

MG News Desk

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