[The study found that as far as school education is concerned, Muslim community, after enrolment of students, gives preference to girls’ education over boys. (ummid.com photo)]
Mumbai: Though enrolment rate of Muslim students, especially the girls, in Maharashtra schools has improved in recent years, an alarming number - more than 65% of them, worry more about their survival, constitutional rights than aspirations, and have very little or no clear goal of their future, a new study has found.
Observing that patriarchy within the Muslim community significantly compromises the educational, personal and overall development of Muslim girl students, the findings by Dr. Abdul Shaban, Deputy Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Tuljapur, urged the government and Muslim community to build aspirations among girls and boys to assure their meaningful position in the society.
"Of the total 2,734 Muslim girls interviewed, 62% had no clear aspirations, while 9.3% had “no aspirations” (Table 5). Thus, 71.3% of Muslim girls in the state do not have clarity about their future. As against girls, 62.4% of boys (54.6% with no clear aspirations and 7.8% with no aspirations) have no clarity about their future jobs", the study published by Economic & Political Weekly in its latest issue.
"As a large proportion of Muslim students from both genders do not show any aspirations, it does not augur well for the future of community, which is already marginalised", it added.
"Among those who have modest aspirations, mainly the girls want to become (i) secondary schoolteachers (7.6% of the girls), (ii) call centre/business process outsourcing (BPO) employees (6.6%), and (iii) primary schoolteachers (2.8%).
"Meanwhile, among boys the top three aspirations are of becoming engineers (9.9% boys), call centre/BPO employees (5.1%), and civil servants (4.6%).
"Although traditionally parents prefer teaching jobs for their daughters, many girls prefer to work in call centres/BPOs which points out that even though they are in the traditional clutches of the patriarchy, they aspire for a job where working hours are mostly during night time and also significant gender intermingling is expected", the study showed.
"Other mentionable aspirations of Muslim girls are to become nurses (2.4% of the girls), engineers (2.2%), doctors (1.5%), civil servants (1.5%), and clerks/supervisors (1%). As against the humble traditional aspirations of girls, a section of Muslim boys have aspirations to do jobs in some non-traditional fields. For instance, 3.8% of them aspire to become doctors, while 2.2% want to become software engineers. In comparison to boys, less number of girl students aspire to these jobs", it showed.
The findings are based on the data available for Urdu medium schools - 4,900 in total, having 12,99,629 students enrolled in 2013–14, from the Maharashtra Prathamik Shikshan Parishad, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai as well as the results of the sample survey on the Socio-Economic and Educational status of Muslims in Maharashtra in 2009 conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.
The study found that as far as school education is concerned, Muslim community, after enrolment of students, gives preference to girls’ education over boys.
"It is important to note that the higher retention of Muslim girls in schools is in comparison to Muslim boys from primary to HSC level in the state. Except in Marathi medium, where the transition rate of Muslim girls is marginally lower than boys, in English, Hindi and Urdu medium schools it is substantially higher", the study showed.
"It is noteworthy that this higher transition or retention rate of girls is a new phenomenon among Muslims and has developed in the last few years mainly due to realisation by the community of its marginalised socio-economic situation and also the loosening patriarchy", it showed.
The study also found that share of girl students in Urdu medium schools is higher as compared to their enrolment in other mediums.
"The situation in Urdu medium schools is unique in the state as in none of the other medium schools, the share of girls is as high as in Urdu medium schools. At the aggregate level and at each standard, the share of girls enrolled in the other medium schools is far less than those in Urdu medium schools", the study showed.
At the same time, the author expressed concern over more and more Muslim girl students opting for Urdu medium schools.
"An Urdu educated student has few career prospects except to work as an Urdu teacher. These limitations immensely affect the quality of education in these schools, and that in turn, compromises the larger educational mobility, career prospects and aspirations among students, especially, Muslim girls. Overall, Muslim girls have become victims of both the tradition and the government negligence of the Urdu medium schools", Dr Shaban said.
The concern raised by the author notwithstanding, the study found that Muslim girls students opt for Urdu medium schools as they are the only schools available in most of the Muslim localities, given the poor socio-economic status of Muslims, many of them cannot afford education in the other-medium schools, difficulty in getting admission in the other medium schools, especially in English medium schools besides other reasons.