Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari has said that Muslims should take up to modern education to keep in tune with changing times and to overcome their social and economic backwardness. “Education is the most important socio-economic challenge for the Muslim community; its deficit is the biggest impediment to its progress, prosperity and empowerment” he said while inaugurating the two day Muslim Education Conference organized by the Maulana Azad Vichar Manch in Mumbai today.
(Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari along with Governor of Maharashtra, K Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Union Minister for Minority Affairs, K Rehman Khan at the inauguration of the two day ‘Muslim Education Conference’ organized by the Maulana Vichar Manch in Mumbai on May 29, 2013.)
Mr. Ansari said, even though Islam placed a great importance on education and learning, many Muslim communities in India have long igonered the need to acquire education, and through it knowledge. Quoting a scholar he said “the modern period of Islamic history begins with decadence within and intrusion and menace from without. The quest for knowledge replaced by apologetics.”
He said the Muslim segment of India’s population has lagged behind, is educationally backward, and because of this, it has failed to avail of all the benefits that are available to fellow citizens. Lack of education has led to higher unemployment, rampant underemployment and confinement to traditional, low paying professions and under-representation in modern organised business sector, he observed.
(Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari called upon Muslims to embrace modern education while inaugurating the two day ‘Muslim Education Conference’ organized by the Maulana Vichar Manch in Mumbai on May 29, 2013.)
Vice President said that the educational backwardness was known before, but the Rangnath Mishra and Sachar Committee reports sanctified the ground reality with official data. He said literacy rate amongst the Muslims in 2001 was 59.1%, compared to the national average of 64.8%. This gap was greatest in urban areas. In higher education, while 7% of the population aged 20 years and above were graduates or diploma-holders, the figure for Muslims was only 4%.
Mr. Ansari said the 12th Five Year Plan has attempted to address the issue of socio-economic backwardness of Muslims by laying stress on educational empowerment of the community. It aims at providing adequate resources and ensuring a more efficient and effective implementation of new and existing new schemes.
Observing that enrolment of Muslim boys and girls at the primary level has shown significant improvement, he called for further hand holding to improve the situation at the secondary and tertiary levels. Mr. Ansari said neighbourhood schools and schools up to middle level need to be set up in minority concentrated blocks, large villages and urban minority concentrated settlements for easy access and retention. In rural areas, schools for girls up to senior secondary level should be made mandatory to ensure that girls continue their education, he said. Mr. Ansari also emphasised on the need to impart vocational training which leads to better employment potential.
Need for Affirmative Action
The Vice President also observed that Article 15(4) of the Constitution provides for affirmative action for the advancement of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes as also for any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens. Mr. Ansari said this provision for affirmative action is inclusive, not exclusive, and can be extended to any class of citizens identified to be socially and educationally backward.
Calling for introspection and corrective action from within the community, Vice President said “India cannot emerge as a modern, developed nation-state without its largest minority being a part and parcel of the growth story and being fully integrated in the national mainstream in social, political and economic spheres.” He mentioned the examples of Islamic Malaysia and Indonesia in the east and Iran and Turkey in the west, which have reaped the benefits of high literacy levels.
The two day Education Conference, that is being attended by over 1500 delegates, will deliberate on various issues that the Muslim community grapples with. It will deal with strategies for vocational and technical education, education for Muslim girls, utilizing Wakf funds for educating the community among others.