Educating Muslims: Need to look beyond rhetoric
Statement / Al-Hira Public School
Milli Gazette Online
We are an unaided, non commercial English medium public school catering to the special needs of backward, semi urban settlement of Dasna in Ghaziabad district of Western Uttar Pradesh. The School was established in 2001 with a commitment to take quality modern education to a targeted section of people who could not afford it.
Experiences of last 5 years at the School have given us enlightening insights into our education system. These years have taught us to face challenges of running an educational institution within a backward community and to live with constant interference of corrupt state machinery not even remotely concerned with education. We have often been ridiculed for running the School as a non-commercial institution. This, probably, has been in the true spirit of today’s commercialized world in spite of repeatedly talking of values like human service, equality, liberty and of democratic and human rights and insistence on a sense of pride in ones own religion and community. To the common people, talk of values and rights is more of a slogan of those in politics who never mean what they say. This made our job far more difficult as we seldom find people who trust what we say. The initial response of the young students was also of similar nature, probably, arising out of their experiences at home and in the neighbourhood. It took us a lot of time and effort to develop a relationship that was rooted in confidence. These experiences often make us ask ourselves – are we really preparing these children for the tough battles to come in life with such crass commercialization in every walk of life? Are we actually doing any good to them?
Over the years, we have been sharing our experiences and problems informally with the people working in similar projects and those in academics to seek guidance and find out answers to numerous questions which arise during the course of our work. But this single institution approach, obviously, can neither help develop comprehensive perspectives nor seek practical solutions to the problems.
With this in background, an urgent need has been felt to systematically involve all those concerned with education to collectively formulate issues and seek answers at least for a minimum common cause of imparting quality education to the disadvantaged sections of society- Dalit, Minorities and Tribals. As a first step in direction we propose to organize a day long seminar on “Educating Muslims: Need to look beyond rhetoric”.
The Seminar’s objective is to understand ever changing needs for modern education and ways and means the Muslim community has adopted to cope up with the future challenges. The Seminar proposes to restrict its scope to situations prevailing in the western districts of Uttar Pradesh. The Madarasa education which has so significantly contributed to the spread of literacy among millions of marginalized and deprived masses on the one hand and helped them preserve their ethnic and religious identity on the other has been kept out of the Seminar’s purview. This is to confine the proceedings and discussions in the Seminar to the practical issues related to modern educational needs of the new generation of Muslims in this region.
The Seminar also proposes to look into the impact of policies pursued by the state as well as central governments as both education and social security fall under the concurrent list of the Constitution. These governments wield control not only through curriculum content and evaluation methods but also by imposing rules, regulations and providing funding. They have, all through, been a controlling factor in spite a degree of freedom to private initiative.
The Seminar would strive to arrive at a minimum common strategy by educational institutions specially working in the area with similar target groups to make education a catalyst of economic development and social betterment.
The Seminar proposes to look into three important issues related to education of Muslims in the region, namely;
1- Do we need to evolve special curricula with a perspective on the specific needs of the community in the region availing of whatever freedom we have within the exiting policies?
2- A vast majority of school going Muslim children in the region are first generation learners. The teaching methods and pedagogic techniques being used in our schools may not be very effective in many ways. Do we need work on alternatives, if any?
3- Significant State funding is available to minority institutions in the region at this point of time but that comes at a certain “price”. Many opine that it is inducement and appeasement to win votes. Some feel that it leads to a corrupting impact on the common people. Do we need to review the costs and benefits of the existing nature of state funding and demand appropriate changes in the system of providing state assistance and funding?
The Seminar is proposed to be held on Sunday, 7th January, 2007 at Al Hira Public School, Dasna, District Ghaziabad.
We request you to please send your valued research papers and suggestions for this Seminar on any of the above mentioned issues.
The papers can be either in English, Urdu or Hindi. Any of these languages may also be used for deliberations and discussions in the Seminar.
The papers must reach the undersigned by November 30, 2006 to enable the organizers to scrutinize, print and circulate them.
Your suggestions and observations would be valuable to us. You write to us or communicate to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mohd. Iqbal Jamil
Al Hira Public School, Dasna, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh
Tel. No: 0120-2769231, (0) 9811377463; e-mail: email@example.com