“The actual number of students in religious studies could be over two lakh as large number of madrassas refused to share details suspecting a political motive behind the survey,” Nuruddin Mulla, deputydirector, Directorate of Minorities and Adult Education told dna.
The data obtained was based on a survey launched by the directorate in 2012. Gender-wise data is still not available. The figures don’t include the 10 lakh students studying in 20,000 Urdu medium schools of the Maharashtra State Board, which comes under formal education. This implies that of all the Muslim students in the state, close to 15% study in madrassas. The Sachar Committee in 2005 had highlighted the poor state of Muslim community in India. The report stated that 3% of Muslim children go to madrassas.
Despite such high number of enrollments, Maharashtra doesn’t have a madrassa board. The lack of any regulation leaves these children without any certificate of formal education which in turn blocks their entry into mainstream educational institutions or jobs in organised sector. Madrassas usually offer religious education that mainly involves the study of the Quran and Arabic and Urdu languages, up to the age of 16 or 18.
When contacted, parents cited reasons like “the need to preserve culture” and “unaffordability of formal education” for sending their wards to madrassas. Abdul Shaban, a professor of Tata Institute of Social Sciences who has conducted several studies related to minorities, said, “The government must quickly push for a madrassa board. We also need to have dedicated officers in the minority bodies who can deliver.”
Shaban pointed out that a lack of formal education, a large number of these madrassa-educated children are forced to do menial jobs. “Majority of these students come from poor background where the parents think that a madrassa education will get them a job in a masjid or a madrassa. Unfortunately, only a handful of them can be employed, that too on meagre salaries of Rs2,000-2,500,” says Shaban. He added, “Girls form a large chunk of these students hampering their empowerment which further hampers the community’s socio-economic development.”
Shabbir Ansari, founder president of All-India Muslim and OBC organization, blamed Muslimpoliticians. “None of our nine minority MLAs have taken any serious efforts in this regard. The Urdu-medium schools of zilla parishad and corporation are pathetic. Muslim educational institutes also run after money giving reserved seats to non-Muslims after donations.”
The Sachar Committee report had said that Muslims constitute 14% of India’s population but only one out of 25 UG students is Muslim.
BOX: According to the data released under District Information System for Education (DISE) for the year 2010-11 by New Delhi-based National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), 79% of Urdu medium students are in just four states- Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Or if we narrow it down further then only Maharashtra and Bihar account for 58% of Urdu students. Even J & K only 600 students study in Urdu Medium. Girls constitute 55% of this population.
Another study conducted by Abdul Shaban, Professor of Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 2011 among Muslim population of seven years above has revealed that over 48.7 % Muslims in Maharashtra have studied in Urdu medium.