Muslim children need better access to school: National Knowledge Commission

By staff reporter

New Delhi: The National Knowledge Commission(NKC) have recommended reorienting official strategies to ensure that Muslim children have better access to schools.

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Taking note of the fact that areas with majority Muslim population are overlooked when it comes to implementation of government schemes, the Commission recommended increase in public expenditure for development of “physical and social infrastructure for schooling.”

Chaired by Sam Pitroda, the National Knowledge Commission is a high-level advisory body to the Prime Minister. It has been tasked with coming up of ideas to transform India into a knowledge society.

In a note circulated before its meeting on December 10th, 2007, NKC gives its recommendation in improving school education in India. Among its recommendation includes universal school education, teacher training, and curriculum reform.

The NKC note mention that there are very few private initiative for Muslim schooling, which is inadequate. It notes that non-implementation of government schemes and lack of more private initiative leaves Muslims as a community with fewer schools, girl schools, and higher educational institutions.

To remedy this situation NKC recommends public funding to be available that will pay for school infrastructure. NKC proposes that all government schemes and budget outlays for education should have a component for minority in proportion to the minority population.

Sachar Committee report revealed that only 4% of Muslim children attend madrasas. Therefore overwhelming number of Muslims children will not benefit from madrasa modernization program. “Indeed, if the modernization of madrassa education is the only policy for increasing access for Muslim school children for a modernized education, it will only result in their being further isolated,” Commission notes.

To improve access of Muslim children in regular schools, NKC recommends steps to be taken to ensure that all minorities and socially deprived groups are not discriminated against. It proposes reform in syllabi and curriculum to remove prejudice, teachers to be sensitised and punishing incidents of discrimination. It also sees a need for grievance redressal system that works at school level and up.

NKC also recommends teaching of minority languages and teachers from minority community as ways of increasing enrollment and retaining students.