IOS organises “Review Meeting on Education Policies in India”

March 19, 2016 at 162, Jogabai, Institute Building, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi

The Institute of Objective Studies organised a “Review Meeting on Education Policies in India” at its Conference hall on March 19, 2016. Initiating the discussion, The Secretary General, IOS, Prof. ZM Khan, called for intensive debate on the proposed educational policy of the Centre. He said that a New Education Policy Task Force (NEPTF) was already in place and before it was finalised, detailed deliberations needed to be made. He said that there were three areas which had not undergone structural changes. These were civil services, law and education.

The IOS was seized of the matter and efforts were on to elicit views of the stakeholders and arrive at a consensus. This meeting assumed importance as it afforded an opportunity to prepare a blueprint for the new syllabus. He said that Muslims wanted a share as per the constitutional provisions. If we deviated from this path in search of alternatives, we could be deprived of our rights.

Dr. Mohammad Yusuf of the Faculty of Education, Jamia Millia Islamia, noted that the results of the minority schools were comparatively better but most of such schools lacked buildings. Similarly, Muslims were still discriminated against. While stressing the need for strengthening adult education among Muslims, he said that the initiative had yielded excellent results.

Prof. Muzammil Husain Qasmi of the same faculty held that India’s first education policy introduced in 1968, was based on the recommendation of the Kothari Commission. He said that under the existing education policy, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes areas were identified first and the minority dominated areas were identified in 2002 only. Referring to the identification of backward districts in terms of educationally backward population, he said that 34 such districts were identified throughout the country. He explained that the survey of three districts of UP, Hardoi, Barabanki and Lakhimpur-Kheri, indicated that they were dominated by Muslims but they had no education facility.

There were Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas for girls, but the enrolment of Muslim girls ranged between 2.50 and three percent. He said that though under the Central plan, there was micro-planning for Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes and progress was regularly monitored, yet no progress was monitored in the case of Muslim schools. Despite the assurance to open schools for Muslims in 7 districts of Bihar, they could not be opened before October 2015. He complained that bank accounts of Muslim students were not opened and the scholarship amount not distributed among them. He also said that the uniforms and textbooks under the incentive scheme were not being given to Muslim students of these schools in Bihar. Similarly, Bal Panjikas (roll call register) were faulty as the names of Muslim students sounded like Hindu names. He said that it was a sensitive issue that needed immediate intervention.

Dr. Qazi Firdausi Islam of the JMI observed that under the Right to Education Act, 25 percent reservation was provided to the wards of economically weaker sections. It was the duty of the parents to send their children to government-run public schools. Hailing the IOS efforts to prepare a project on education, he said that proper computer education was needed to keep pace with Narendra Modi’s vision of “Digital India”. He also pleaded for the introduction of a good scholarship scheme.

President of the Majlis-e-Mushawarat, Navaid Hamid, cautioned against the plot to assimilate minorities within the majoritarian society. He said that under RTE, equal opportunity of basic education had been provided to all sections of society. He informed that the Majlis-e-Mushawarat was planning to organise a national minority education convention in the near future.

Dr. Arshad Ikram of the Education Department of JMI contended that a representation spelling out demands of the minorities in respect of education be given to the Government of India. He also pleaded for raising the issue of the minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia. He also called for running secondary classes in the schools which received financial aid from the government.

Social activist VB Rawat explained that the new education policy was designed to corporatise education. This could be called the “software” of a Brahminical Order. He said that basic education was used to mould the tender brain of children to a particular ideology. Similarly, higher education was being handed over to the corporate sector to monopolise and confine it to the economically well off. He held that rights were being converted into entitlements so as to deprive the weaker sections of constitutional guarantees. With the entry of the corporate sector, research in humanities was being curtailed. He sought representational reservation for Muslims.

Professor of Law, JMI, Prof. Eqbal Husain termed education as a tool of empowerment. Legally, we had the right to education, but in practice it was not so. Referring to AMU case, he said that despite the Prime Minister’s assurances, the HRD Minister opposed the move to pursue the case in the Supreme Court and fully supported the withdrawal of the affidavit by the Attorney General.

Prof. Hasina Hashiya of JMI held that the government’s agenda was wrapped in a scheme that excluded the Muslims. There were initiatives like “Digital India” and “Make in India”, but Muslims nowhere figured in the budget as far as their welfare was concerned.

She favoured the networking of large groups of like-minded people who could demand value-based education. Historical distortions were rampant rather than rare. She accused the HRD Minister of promoting party agenda.

Advocate-on-record, the Supreme Court of India, Mushtaq Ahmed, opined that like others, Muslims had the right to receive education in their mother tongue. This was the legal position, but due to the anti-minority policies of the government it was not being implemented in minority educational institutions.

Social activist Sanjay Rai expressed concern that the budget on education was being gradually cut with the result that the quality of education had gone down. Narrow thinking had pervaded education today. Education was not meant for the poor as the programmes like “Digital India” and “Make in India” were meant for skilled persons only who could afford costly education, he said. Senior journalist Zeyaul Haque said that we must learn from the corporate sector, which is powerful because it can handle difficult situations. The corporate hidden agenda is not without policy as we seen to think. We must know the landscape of ideas where we operate and define our policy before embarking on a debate.

In his presidential remarks, the Chairman, IOS, Dr. M. Manzoor Alam held that the present government was making every attempt to change the curriculum under a well-thought-out strategy by focusing more on primary education, so that the tender minds of children could be infected with the communal virus. This was not confined to Muslims alone, as Dalits, weaker sections and tribals were also being made their target. He said that the present government was sentimentally and ideologically exploiting the people. That was the reason why instead of holding a debate on the budget for the year 2016-17, the issue of JNU was brought to the centre-stage. The government was going whole hog to reinterpret the history of India, particularly the Muslim rule from the Brahminical prism. They were planning to hold a conference on history to re-orient historians to their ancient past, he added.

Earlier, the meeting began with the recitation of a verse from the holy Quran by Hafiz Athar Husain Nadvi. The proceedings of the meeting were conducted by Asstt. Prof. of Political Science, Dr. Zakir Husain College, Delhi University, Dr. Aftab Alam.


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