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Gujarat Muslims register highest literacy rate 

The literacy rate among Muslims in Gujarat has increased by 10 per cent in the last decade and at 73 per cent is higher than the overall literacy rate in the state.

Gujarat Muslims: Modi failed to stop progress
Gujarat Muslims: Modi failed to stop progress

Julaya Shabnam is the first literate in her family and now is just a year away from becoming the first graduate. 

Living in Jamalpur in the walled city of Ahmedabad, Julaya's parents ensured that their daughter got a proper education. 

According to them, education is the only solution to the problems faced by Muslims. "We have to stand on our own legs. The situation is not what it used to be. You can no longer remain an illiterate," said Shamima Bano, a student.
While a college for Muslim women in Ahmedabad, which had only 80 students in 1993, today has over 1,000 students.

This goes to show the increasing consciousness about importance of education in the community.

The Census data too reflects the growing significance of this trend. The literacy rate of Muslims in Gujarat has increased by over 10 per cent in ten years to 73.9 per cent.

This is much higher than the state's average of 69.1 per cent and the all-India Muslim literacy rate of 59 per cent. Female literacy too is higher than the national average at 54 per cent.

It's a response, social activists say, to the insecurity the community has faced in Gujarat for many years. 

But instead of being pushed into ghettos, access to colleges and awareness campaigns have meant that even the orthodox sections, chose more liberal education systems to madrasas.

"After the Babri mosque demolition there has been a growing consciousness amongst the community on the importance of liberal secular education and this has forced even orthodox people to send their children to liberal education systems," said Dr Hanif Lakdawala, a social activist.

Another reason for the high literacy rate among Muslims is due to the rapid urbanisation in Gujarat with Muslims concentrated in many of the bigger cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodra and Surat.

"Naturally in urban areas the literacy rate is higher and so in Gujarat the literacy rate amongst Muslims is higher than the all-India Muslim literacy rate," said Dr Jaffer Hussain Laliwala, former Professor of Economics, Gujarat University.

While the scars of the communal frenzy of 2002 have not quite healed, the silent literacy revolution in Gujarat is a powerful rejoinder to those who have tried to stereotype the Gujarati Muslim. (ndtv.com)

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