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Technology for Building Literacy Skills and Dialoguing Social Issues: A Pilot Project
 
Mridula Seth
Aprana Khanna    
 
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Abstract

This paper examines the status of Girl child Education among Muslim in select town of Andhra Pradesh. Encouraging girls to remain in school until they complete primary education has increasingly become a priority of many communities across the world. With increases in the educational participation of girls, the national development indicators improve. Muslims like any other community in India, tend to be influenced by the forces of orthodox conservatism and ongoing modernisation process at the national and international level. As a result, the education of girl child is also affected by their forces. The main objectives of the study were to study the status of Girl Child Education among Muslims: To study the opinion of Muslim parents towards Girl Child Education. The study was undertaken in two towns of two districts of Andhra Pradesh namely Nizamabad and Kurnool. Total sample is 50 schools which include primary and secondary schools and 40 families from the two towns. The study concludes that there is a growing realisation among the students and the families of Muslims regarding the value of education particularly to educate their girl children.

(Key words: Girl Child, Muslims, Education, status, Development)

Introduction

Encouraging girls to remain in school until they complete primary education has increasingly become a priority of many communities across the world. With increase in the educational participation of girls, the national development indicators improve. Some important indicators are lowered infant and maternal mortality, longer life expectancy, lower fertility rates and improvements in health, nutrition, literacy and economic growth.

A boy education is generally accepted as a point to increase the earnings and status of the family. The value of daughter’s education is gauged in terms of her marriage prospects. Parbathy Baidya (1988) argued that the lack of education is the main cause for which women suffer more than men. Lack of education means lack of self-reliance, self-confidence for which women are not able to come out of their problem, so, educating a woman means educating a family. In India because of growing awareness of the vital connection between women’s education and the national development effort, from VI and VII Plan onwards women are identified as a critical human resource requiring skills training and development inputs.

National Policy on Education, 1986 and the Education for All Initiative of 2003 stressed the need for interventions for women’s education and accorded a high priority to girls’ education in order to overcome inequalities and disparities. The policy addresses not only the issue of educational opportunity for women but commands the entire educational system to work for women’s equality and empowerment. The policy gives overriding priority to the removal of women’s illiteracy and obstacles inhibiting their access to and retention in primary education. Further these policies acknowledge education as a pre-requisite of gender equality and advocating the specific interventions for girls and women such as strengthening Anganwadies, life skill camps and gender sensitisation and mainstreaming the gender in education etc.

In developing countries, though the greatest investment returns are derived from primary education returns from secondary and higher education is already started. According to Barbara in USAID’s symposium on Girls Education it appears that secondary education may have much larger returns as much as 30 per cent. Therefore ensuring that the girls reach the stage may produce even longer benefits. Education of girls has been a high priority of the Government of India. The National commitment to provide free and compulsory education to all the children in 6-14 years is now a Fundamental Right of every child in India. (86th Constitutional Amendment Act, Dec.2002) .Reaching out to the girl child is central to the efforts of universalising of elementary education. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan or ‘Education for All’ programme recognises that ensuring girl’s education requires changes not only in the education system but also in societal norms and attitudes. A two-pronged gender strategy has therefore been adopted, to make the education system responsive to the needs of the girls through targeted interventions which serve as a pull factor to enhance access and retention of girls in schools on the other hand, to generate a community demand for girls’ education.

Though considerable steps have been taken and enrolment of girls has marginally increased, yet social and gender gaps are wide and many of the girls dropout after the initial primary school. The 1983 Report on Minorities, declared Muslims to be a backward community primarily due to the dismal educational and exceedingly poor socio-economic status, Particularly of Muslim women and a high dropout rate at the elementary state of education (Report, 1983).

In rural India, the gender gap in literacy is 22.27% against 16.8% of urban India. Over 34% of girl children are dropout before completing primary education and of the estimated 65 million out of school children, 40 million are girls. According to 2001 census, although illiteracy among Muslims improved between 1993-94 and 1999-2000, the literacy rates (67.66 percent) are still on average 10 percent below that of the Hindus (71.16 percent). In rural areas 48 percent of Muslims above the age of seven could not read or write, compared Hindus it is 44 percent in the same situation. In Urban areas the gap is much wider, 30 percent among the Muslims but only 10 percent among Hindus(Census 2001,Hassan et.al, appendix)According to an ORG-MARG Muslim Women’s Survey 2001, among 40 districts of 12 States of India 60% of the Muslim women in the country are illiterate. The enrolment of Muslim girl children is only 40.7%.

Women education and equality

Gore (1994) argues that women’s equality cannot be attained without education. Education may be formal or informal, it may be directly dialectic, or merely information based or communicating its message through entertainment but it is a pre-requisite for value change and without value change no new social objectives can take root. Education is seen as a critical factor in breaking the inter-generational cycle of transmission of poverty. The power of education lies not just in imparting formal literacy, but rather in the acquisition of skills that enable access to multiple literacy, economics, legal, health, political and ability to mediate (Report, W&CW, 2005, 17). The neglect of Muslim women’s education has been a persistent feature of public policy in many states. There are many reasons for this and the main fault lies in the attitude in the families towards girls’ education.

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Table No.1
Literacy level among different religions

Religion

Male

Female

Total

Hindu

76.16

53.21

65.01

Muslim

67.66

50.09

59.13

Christian

84.37

76.19

80.25

Sikh

75.23

63.09

69.45

Buddhist

83.13

61.69

72.66

Jain

97.41

90.58

94.08


Source: Census of India 2001.

Review of Literature

Rahman and Bisdwah (1993) argue that education is an important indicator of women’s development. It is also an important instrument for attaining economic power and independence. It opens opportunities that are limited with various levels of formal educational attainment.

According to More (1997) the structure of the indigenous social system mitigated against the modern concept of female education. But in Madras, unlike in the other provinces, the purdah system was found only among a certain sections of the people. Muslims of Madras provinces were alone observing the purdah system strongly opposed to co-education even in the primary stage.

Early marriage though common was not to be found among large and important communities and women teachers were forthcoming in comparatively large numbers.

Washim Ahmed (2000) in his study focuses on the Maktabs and Madrasas of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and reveals that the sort of education that these institutions impart must be understood in their historical context, particularly in relation to the British divide and rule policy that resulted in the increasing marginalisation of large number of Muslims, who, in the after math of the 1857 Revolt, were seen by the British as potentially subversive, and hence were cruelly suppressed. The study suggested that a radically reformed and modernised syllabus be tried out on an experimental basis, for which well trained teachers should be employed.

In view of the above discussions, the study has been taken up to investigate the status of Girl Child Education among Muslims.

Objectives

To study the status of Girl Child Education among Muslims.
To study the opinion of Muslim parents towards Girl Child Education.
To suggest measures for improvement of Education among Muslim Girls.

Education of Girl Child and Muslims

Muslims like any other community in India, tend to be influenced by the forces of orthodox conservatism and ongoing modernisation process at the national and international level. As a result, the education of girl child is also affected by their forces. Besides these, the socio-economic status of parents also influences their education, parents from various social class homes may differ in their nurturing and caring behaviour. The low income of parents affects the will to educate their girl child. Mounting economic pressure generally brings budgetary matter to the forefront which may keep any parent mentally preoccupied with financial issues, hence, low involvement in education of their children.

In 2001 only 55% of India’s 71 million Muslim males were literate, compared to 64.5% for country’s 461 million non- Muslim men. Less than 41% of the country’s 67 million Muslim females were illiterate varies 46% of India’ 30 million non Muslim women. The percentage difference was greater for Muslim men vary their non Muslim brethren than for Muslim women. A recent study has shown that in India as a whole, Muslim girls’ school enrolment rates continue to be low; 40.6 percent, as compared to 63.2 percent in the case of Hindus. In rural north India, it is only 13.5, in urban north India 23.1 percent and in rural and urban south India, above 70 percent, which is above the all-India average for all girls. Only 16.1 percent of Muslim girls from poor families attend schools, while 70 percent of Muslim girls from economically better-off families do so, thus clearly suggesting that low levels of education of Muslim girls owe not to religion but to poverty. Less than 17 percent of Muslim girls finish eight years of schooling and less than 10 percent complete higher secondary education. In the north, the corresponding figures are 4-5 percent and 4.75 percent respectively, compared to the national female average of 17.8 percent and 11.4 percent. Only 1.5 percent rural Muslims, both boys and girls, and 4.8 percent Urban Muslim children are enrolled in senior Secondary schools. In other words, on the whole, Muslim girls are characterised by a low enrolment rate and a very high dropout rate from the formal schooling system (Hassan, 2005)

These differences in literacy levels existed across almost all States with significant Muslim population. However, Muslim-non-Muslim literacy disparities were far less in the economically advanced states of West and South India compared to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir. Unfortunately, these five States with high disparities accounted for over 61 per cent of the country’s Muslim population where as the Gujarat & A.P the literacy ratios of Muslim males and females were marginally better than those of non Muslim and in Karnataka and Maharashtra where a slightly greater share of Muslim women were literate compared to others.

Muslims Education

There are three types of institutions which promotes Muslim education.

1)   Khuranic schools   2)   Mosque schools   3)   Madrassas

Khuranic schools

These schools function in mosque only. The mullah teaches the Koran to children both boys and girls. At the basic level, the Koran is taught orally only and no translation or interpretation is provided to students. Khuranic schools offer classes at various times. Evening, morning; after noon to accommodate the timings of both teacher and students. The main objective of this school is that the Muslim child should be able to read the Koran in Arabic even if they do not understand the language.

Mosque Primary School

Because of scarcity of resources and other things such as infrastructure etc. the Government of A.P. started converting Koranic schools into Mosque primary schools in the mid 80s. Particularly in rural areas the plan was to add some additional subjects such as basic Urdu and maths which would be taught by the local imams. The efficiency of these imams to teach maths and Urdu is of uncertain. During the process some mosque schools closed down, some are sustained.

Madrassas

The mission of most of madrassas is to impart religious teaching. Islamic subjects (Koran, Islamic law, logic and other prospects traditions). Depending upon the level of the madrassa (Primary, middle and high) the concentration of religious teaching increases. I.e. Hafiz-e-Koran, Qari and Alim.

The madrassa student after graduation from grade 10 is qualified enough to declare Fatway – religious edicts. There are five major Islamic schools of thought in Andhra Pradesh. Deobandi, Bareli, Ahle, Hadith, Salafi and Shia. Each sect has their own Madrassas in which they teach their own version of Islam.

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Methodology and Study Area

The study was undertaken in two towns of two districts of Andhra Pradesh namely Nizamabad and Kurnool. The selection of the districts and towns was based on the Muslim population (i.e. 30% and more Muslim population.) Total sample is 50 schools which include primary and secondary schools and 40 families, the respondents were students, teachers and Head Masters. Survey method was used to collect the information from the respondents. Apart from the survey method Focus Group Discussions were also conducted along with personal interviews with men, women, community leaders, youth and teachers from the Muslim community.

Results and Discussion

The respondents profile indicates that in Nizamabad town the distribution of sample is 45 %( 184), where as in Kurnool town the distribution is 55 %( 226).

The class wise distribution of the responds reveals that out of 410 respondents (68) are studying in 9th class, which includes 41 from Kurnool town and 27 are from Nizamabad, where as the 6th class (58),7th class (57), and 8th class are 53 only.(Table:2)

Majority of the respondent’s father’s education level is literate. They are 94 (30%)out of 410 followed by Primary education 55(13.5%0 and Secondary education level is 75(18.5%). Some of the student’s father’s educational level is of Graduation i.e. 36 (9.5%)out of 410.(Table:3)

Majority of the respondents mothers education level is illiterate.i.e 110out of 410 (27.0.%), followed by primary education level is of 97(24.0%). Where as 15 (4%) are studied up to Graduation. (Table: 4)

As far as fathers occupation is concerned majority are self employed i.e 97 out of 410(23%),which includes Kurnool town 59(26%) and Nizamabad town 38 ( 21%). Followed by Private Job i.e 80 out 410 ( 19 %), Kurnool town represents 50 ( 22%), Nizamabad town is 30(16 %. Where as 150 respondents had not responded about their father’s occupation.(Table:5). The profile of the mothers Occupation revealed that majority of the respondents mothers are housewives 226 out of 410. (56.5 %). It includes Kurnool town 106 (47%) Nizamabd town 120 (65%), followed by 30 respondents mothers are self employed (8.0%) and 20 (5.0%)are doing business. Where as 134(30.5%) respondents have not responded on their mother’s occupation. (Table: 6).

Students’ opinion regarding school facilities

60% of the respondents revealed that they like very much their teachers. Followed by 27% of the respondents said that they like their friends and are happy with the facilities of library, sports etc. where as remaining 13% have not responded on this.

Parents’ encouragement and school attendance

97% of the respondents said that their parents are quite encouraging and insist them to attend the school in spite of work at home. Where as 3% of the respondents said that some times because of work at home parents discourage the school and force them to attend the work.

Facilities provided by the parents at home

65% of the respondents revealed that parents help them in studies and provide facilities like sparing sufficient time to study, providing pens, pencils and books etc. Where as remaining 35% of the respondents said that they are not getting proper support from their parents, because they are illiterates.

Opinion on Assignment of work by the parents

30% of the respondents revealed that their parents assign work at home. Out of these 3% said that they help their parents by attending domestic, work, followed by 2% said that they help their parents by working at others houses, where as 1% revealed that they attend the work of beedi-making.70% of the remaining respondents have not responded.

Parents’ attitude towards Girl child Education

45% of the respondent parents are positive in their attitude and supportive to their girl child education followed by 30% of the respondent’s parents revealed that they were not much supportive towards girl child education.

Size of the family: 60% of the parents said that their family size comprise one to six members, followed by 20% said that their family size consists of seven to eight members, where as the remaining 20% said that their family consists of more than 10 members.

Type of Family: 70% of the respondents families are of nuclear where as the remaining 30% are of joint family.

Economic status: regarding their income levels 45% of the parents earned between Rs.9000-13000. Where as the remaining 55 %( 203) earned below Rs. 9000.

Educational awareness: Educational awareness was studied interms of importance of education, medium of education, distance of school, type of school; facilities availed from the school etc.

  1. Lower age group parents (younger) are more aware about the education of their children particularly girl children.
  2. Among different sects of Muslims shias are having little higher awareness than Sunnis. There is difference in educational awareness among different sub sects like syeds,pathans and sheiks.
  3. Higher income group families are more understanding and aware than those of lower income groups.
  4. Educated parents are more aware of their children’s education.
  5. Nuclear families with smaller size are having better awareness than the joint and larger size families.
  6. Decision making: In most of the families men take the decisions regarding their children’s school academic matters, the process of education of their children.
  7. In higher socio economic status families it was observed that independent decisions were taken by the women of the families.
  8. Aspirations: Most of the respondents i.e. 60 %( 180) said that they wanted to send their children to English medium school. Where as the remaining 40 %( 170) wants to send their children to Urdu and Telugu medium schools.
  9. 30% (123) of the respondents felt that they wanted to provide higher education to their children.

Conclusion

In the present study findings suggests that there is a growing realisation among the students and the families of Muslims regarding the value of education particularly to educate their girl children was observed in all the sample schools and families of Nizamabad and Kurnool towns of Andhra Pradesh.

Majority of the students opined that they take their teachers and school and attend the school in spite of work at home.65% of the students revealed that parents help them in their studies by providing relevant facilities. This was a positive trend observed among different sub sects and even in lower income group families.
Most of the respondent’s parents are positive in their attitudes and supportive in their girl child education.
Majority of the parents are self-employed followed by Government employees, and are quite encourage in educating their children.
Irrespective of their family size and type, they are interested to educate their girl children.
In most of the families men take decision regarding their children’s schools, where as in few families women in consultation with men take decisions.
Most of the respondents are having high aspirations to give better education to their children with English medium.
The continuation of education among girls with better achievement is a motivating factor among families.

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References


  1. Aggarwal, Jc, 1976.Indian Women Education Status.Arya Book Deport, New Delhi.
  2. Ahmed Imtiyaz, 1981 ‘Muslim Educational Backwardness- An inference analysis’ Economic and political Weekly Volume 3,16 September.
  3. Brijbhusanm, Jamila.1980.Muslim women: In purdah and out of it, New Delhi,Vikas Publishing House.
  4. Sharma S Ram, 1996 Women’s Education; Conceptual Frame work, Discovery Publishing House New Delhi.
  5. Status of the Muslim Girl Child Education, Research Report of SSA-A.P.
  6. The World Bank; Work Development Report The challenge of Development Bank, Washington D.C.

Table: 2
The class wise distribution of the respondents

S.No.

Class

Nizamabad town
Frequency            %

Kurnool town
Frequency           %

1.

Madrassa

8

5.0

10

4.4

2

1st

12

6.6

15

6.6

3

2nd

09

5.02

10

4.4

4

3rd

11

6.0

15

6.6

5

4th

12

6.5

16

7.3

6

5th

23

12.6

28

12.3

7

6th

28

15.2

30

13.2

8

7th

26

14.5

31

13.7

9

8th

23

12.6

30

13.2

10

9th

27

16.0

41

18.3

Total

 

184

100

226

100

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Table: 3
Respondents level o father’s Education:

S.No

Level of fathers education

  Nizamabad Town

Kurnool Town

        

          Total

Frequency

%

Frequency

%

1.

Illiteracy

21

11.5

33

14.5

54

13.50

2.

Literate

44

24.0

50

22.0

94

30.50

3.

Primary Education

24

13.00

31

13.5

55

13.50

4

Secondary Education

29

15.5

46

20.5

75

18.50

5

Intermediate

28

15.5

33

14.5

61

15.50

6

Graduation

23

12.5

13

6.0

36

09.50

7

Post Graduation

15

8.0

20

9.0

35

09.00

Total

184

100

226

100

410

100.00

Table: 4
Respondents level o Mother’s Education:

S.No

Level of fathers education

  Nizamabad Town

Kurnool Town

Total

Frequency

%

Frequency

%

1.

Illiteracy

50

27.0

60

26.6

110

27.0

2.

Literate

20

10.5

40

17.7

60

14.0

3.

Primary Education

50

27.0

47

20.7

97

24.0

4

Secondary Education

40

22.0

40

17.7

80

19.5

5

Intermediate

15

8.5

33

14.6

48

11.50

6

Graduation

9

5.0

6

2.7

15

4.00

7

Post Graduation

-

 

-

 

-

 

Total

184

100

226

100

410

100

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Table: 5
Respondents Father’s occupation:

S.No

Level of fathers education

Nizamabad Town

Kurnool Town

Total

Frequency

%

Frequency

%

1.

Self employed

38

21.00

59

26.0

97

23.0

2.

Business

36

20.00

41

18.0

77

19.0

3.

Private jobs

30

16.00

50

22.0

80

19.0

4

No response

80

43.00

76

34.0

150

39.0

 

184

100.00

226

100.0

410

100.00

Table: 6
Respondents Mother’s occupation

S.No

Level of fathers education

Nizamabad Town

Kurnool Town

    Total

Frequency

%

Frequency

%

1.

 House wife

120

65.0

106

47.0

226

56.5

2.

Self employed

10

5.40

20

9.0

30

8.0

3.

Business

8

4.40

12

5.0

20

5.0

4

No response

46

25.20

88

39.0

134

30.5

                   Total

184

100

226

100

410

100