Special Reports

Assam Muslim boy tops tenth std exams


By Nava Thakuria

Guwahati: An Assamese Muslim student has topped the exams of the Board of Secondary Education Assam-conducted High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) examination which failed to make a national headline, but if a Hindu boy had topped in tenth standard examination it would have made a front page news.

This amazing result was secured by Sarfaraz Hussain of Guwahati  who topped the HSLC examination with 590 marks out of 600 (98.3%) from Shankardev Shishu Niketan school which is run by Vidya Bharati-affiliated Assam Shishu Shiksha Samity.

Even though the result, which was declared on 31 May, did not surprise the people of Assam, but the correlation between a Muslim student and an RSS-backed school made ripples as an usual happening.

However, Sarfaraz is not the first and only Muslim student to get education in an RSS affiliated educational institution in Assam. There may be more than 20 Muslim students who are undergoing studies at the Betkuchi of Guwahati-based Shankardev Shishu Niketan. But the acute poverty faced by the 16-year-old student, which he overcame to achieve the extraordinary success, made the news still more amazing. Sarfaraz’s father works in a city-based hotel and his meagre earning compelled Ajmal Hussain to seek support from his educational institution which responded positively. Otherwise, it might have been difficult for Hussain to continue his son’s education.

Hussain credited Sarfaraz’s success to hard work, teaching staff of Shankardev Shishu Niketan and also to the Hindu Goddess (of learning) Devi Saraswati.

Over 381,500 students appeared in the examination in which over 62 percent candidates succeeded. Altogether 232 students topped the list of 20 meritorious positions in which  44 students belonged to various Vidya Bharati-affiliated schools.

Vidya Bharati’s state entity Assam Shishu Shiksha Nyas runs 549 schools in the state. Now Assam government plans to establish more such schools as the education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma declared that every panchayat of the state would have such an institution.

Sarfaraz’s success came in an opportune moment for the newly inducted BJP-led government at Dispur. The first BJP chief minister of the state Sarbananda Sonowal was quick to appreciate and encourage all students for their hard work to pass the important examination. Moreover, his minister Sarma rushed to the residence of Sarfaraz and addressed a gathering in his school.

“We feel proud for Sarfaraz and many others like him. Moreover, I appreciate Shankardev Shishu Niketan for its continued success stories,” said minister Sarma after taking sweets and pranam from Sarfaraz.

The minister declared that the government would deposit an amount of rupees five lakh in his bank account for his higher studies. As Sarfaraz wanted to study at Cotton College in Guwahati, Sarma assured that he would arrange free enrolling for Sarfaraz in the prestigious century-old institution.

“Not just Sarfaraz, but every meritorious student belonging to the weaker sections of the society would be supported financially for relevant educational expenditures,” added the young minister. He also announced a grant of rupees ten lakh for the upgradation of Shankardev Shishu Niketan and assured immediate maintenance of the approach road to the institution.

Elated headmaster of the school, Akshay Kalita, termed Sarfaraz’s success as an inspiring example for other students. He mentioned that besides his study, Sarfaraz was fluent in Sanskrit and won many awards in Geeta reciting competitions. Sarfaraz also served as the secretary of Saraswati Puja committee in the school. The headmaster asserted that the school emphasizes on quality education without religious colour. Moreover, regular interactions with the parents also help understanding various parameters related to the academic performance and other activities of the enrolling students, added Kalita.

“With my parents, my school played a vital role in whatever success I have achieved today. I was expecting to be among the first ten positions, but my hard work brought me the real glory,” said Sarfaraz wearing an Assamese traditional gamocha on his neck.

He also expressed hope that he could continue his academic journey. Sarfaraz plans to study at Cotton College upto twelfth class and then pursue engineering education. Sarfaraz remains confident that he would not let his parents and school teachers down in future as well.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 June 2016 on page no. 13

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