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Published in the 16-31 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Past time too may be redeemed

By Saiyid Hamid

Every body knows that Indian Muslims are backward in education. Their rate of literacy is much below the national rate. There are many reasons behind their educational backwardness and we need not go into those reasons here. Many children are devoid of education because of the poverty or negligence on the part of their parents. Many girls are not sent to co-educational institutions because of traditional restrictions. Many children are not allowed to continue their education as they grow up because they are engaged in the small shops of their fathers or in household duties. It is no doubt an injustice and cruelty to them but how otherwise the poor parents will be able to make a living.

The demand for education has gone so high that schools and colleges are not able to cope with the fast growing demand. Even the countries which have no dearth of resources have made arrangements for a system which can be called open educational system under which one can receive education at home without the problems of resources, finance, strict rules, regulations and worries about the wasted months and years of one’s life.

One can take the advantage of open or unrestricted education irrespective of his age, financial position or any other handicaps and remove his ignorance and march on the road to progress. One can even compensate the time that has already been wasted. One can achieve in months what he would have done in years in the traditional educational system. Instead of repenting over the lost opportunity, one should make use of the open educational system.

Open education is in fact an unavoidable necessity for people in general and weaker sections in particular. For poor and backward Indian Muslims there is no better way for removing their educational backwardness than this educational system and they should take full advantage of it. It is in fact a great boon if a lost opportunity is regained so easily. It is certainly not wise to lose such a golden opportunity. Rather, losing such opportunity would be suicidal.

Progress and prosperity are not possible without education. This new and unique system has brought education within our easy reach.

Open educational system is useful not only for educating the uneducated and completing the incomplete education but also to keep oneself abreast of new knowledge, information, technologies and techniques. It is also very useful for mentally-retarded children. 

It is also very useful for madrasah students, both who are studying as well as those who have completed their education. Normally, syllabi of religious madrasahs do not include modern subjects on science and technology which are useful for modern and lucrative jobs. Necessity was being felt for a long time to include modern subjects in madrasah education without affecting traditional education, in order to increase the utility of madrasah graduates. For the achievement of these objectives, open educational system is very useful for madrasah students. It will make them successful in the world and Hereafter.
The National Institute of Open Schooling is one such institution which imparts education for secondary and senior secondary standards through distance education. The importance and popularity of the institution can be gauged from the fact that a few years ago the number of its students was more than 0.9 million across the country.

Open educational system is called so because there is no restriction of any kind in this system and it is extremely elastic. This system provides every conceivable facility to students. It does not require a student to appear for all examinations together. One can choose from a long list of subjects and can appear for examinations at one’s convenience. Examinations can be passed in phases also.

Initially, the institution imparted education through English and Hindi mediums but subsequently on the demand of Urdu medium students, it recognised Urdu also as a medium of instruction. It is a valuable opportunity for Urdu medium students to complete their education and expand it. We should realise that because of our educational backwardness, we are not only backward in all walks of life but also becoming more backward as time passes. We have got a precious opportunity through this system to remove our poverty and backwardness and to catch up with other brethren who are miles ahead of us in almost all fields of life. For God’s sake let us not miss this opportunity and take full advantage of it in order to make bright the future of our children. 

It is our misfortune that we have not yet taken much advantage of the ‘Open School’ system . We should know that good opportunities are not always available. Possibilities are knocking at your door. Get up, be ready and take full advantage of the opportunity which is open to you for the acquisition of knowledge. Education is the master key by which all doors to progress and prosperity can be opened one after the other. The key is in your hands and within your grasp. You have only to grab the opportunity. The interesting thing is that the master key will bring you not only worldly success but will also open the possibilities in the world beyond. One can achieve success in the temporal as well as spiritual world through education and knowledge. Therefore, we should publicise and propagate this system of education among our neighbours, friends and relatives and explain to them the merits of the system.
There is another advantage of open educational system. Due to the indifference, bias and narrow-mindedness of many state governments, the children whose mother tongue is Urdu are not getting opportunities to study in Urdu medium. This handicap can be done away with through open educational system. The eminent and respectable position enjoyed by Urdu earlier can be restored and the language can be promoted silently but successfully through the system.
Maulana Azad National Urdu University at Hyderabad is imparting higher academic as well as technical education through Urdu medium. Besides, Dr Ambedkar University of Andhra Pradesh is also providing higher education in Urdu medium. Opportunities and possibilities are there within easy reach of those who are really interested. They appear to be saying, as the following couplet says:

Mehrban ho ke bula lo mujhe chaaho jis waqt
Main gaya waqt naheen hoon ke phir aa bhi na sakoon’

(Call me kindly any time whenever you want; I am not the time gone by which does not come back.)

Therefore, ask your friends and others not to miss this opportunity. Here is the address of Open School:
National Institute of Open Schooling
B-318, Kailash Colony, New Delhi-110048
Phones: 26211457,26228038,262168006
Website: www.nos.org / www.nios.ac.in 

(Translated from Urdu)

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