By Dr. Syed Ahmed,
All Manipur Muslim College Teachers’ Association (AMMCOTA) raised some of the issues faced by the Muslim community in the field of education in Manipur at the awareness cum felicitation programme of meritorious Muslim students held on 31st July 2011 at Manipur Press Club, Majorkhul, Imphal.
The function, hosted by AMMCOTA, was graced by Alhaj A. Halim Choudhury, IAS (Retd.), Chairperson, Manipur State Minorities Commission; Alhaj MA Janab Khan, former Additional Director of Education, and Alhaj Md. Khalilur Rahman, Principal of Lilong Haoreibi College and President of AMMCOTA as Chief Guest, Guest of Honour and President respectively.
Besides the Muslim college teachers, the function was attended by Muslim bureaucrats, lawyers, doctors, students, community leaders and social activists of the state. M.A. Salam, MCS, Deputy Secretary Education (U), Md. Reihanuddin Choudhury, MCS, Deputy Secretary (Home) and M.A. Sukur, MCS (Retd.), Additional District Magistrate (Imphal East) were among the guests.
M.A. Salam addressing the function
The Secretary of AMMCOTA, Dr. Baharuddin Shah raised some of the pertinent issues which the Muslims in the state faced in the field of education in his key-note address. He presented a brief educational scenario of the Muslims in the state and pointed out some of the main hurdles that the Muslims faced in educational advancement. He said that the state government should give due attention to improve the educational standard of the Muslim community. He, on behalf of AMMCOTA, demanded that the scholarship facilities provided by the state government should be made more easily accessible to the Muslim students. The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) scheme which has already been implemented in the hill districts of Manipur should also be extended to the Muslim concentrated areas to promote girls’ education, he added.
Shah also mentioned that to make school education more attractive for the Muslim students Urdu language should be introduced at the primary and upper-primary levels, recalling the initiative taken up by the Government of Manipur in 1978 in this regard. It may be mentioned here that the Governor of Manipur constituted in January 1978 a committee to study the feasibility for introducing Urdu as a language in the Primary and Upper Primary classes in the state. The 7-member committee, headed by M.A. Bari, included the then MLAs Md. Habibur Rahman and Md. Jalaluddin. The committee in its report, submitted in December 1978 to the Chief Minister, recommended introduction of Urdu as an optional language from the stage of Class II to Class X and prepared the qualifications to be possessed by the Urdu teachers. However, the recommendations of the committee were not implemented by the state government. Shah further said that state government should consider opening Urdu department in the higher educational institutions of the state.
Many of the invitees who spoke at the function congratulated the meritorious students and wished them success in their future endeavors. The invitees emphasized the role of education in the development of the community and also suggested various ways and means to improve the educational scenario of the community. M.A. Qayum, a senior Muslim Advocate, suggested instituting an educational trust to give coaching to Muslim students for various professional courses and job recruitment exams, and called the Muslim intellectuals to come forward to help and guide the Muslim students. The suggestion was well-received by many of the speakers. M.A. Salam, MCS, in his speech highlighted some of the schemes and programmes planned and initiated in the state by his department especially for the Muslims and other minority communities. Social worker Anwari Noorjahan and senior Lecturer Janatun Begum talked about the role of mothers in educating their children.
Chief Guest felicitating a Muslim student
AMMCOTA felicitated the Muslim position-holders and those who secured 80% and above in the recently declared High School Leaving Certificate Examination, 2011 and Higher Secondary Examination, 2011 conducted by Board of Secondary Education Manipur and Council of Higher Secondary Education Manipur respectively. The position-holders were, for HSLCE: 1) Samina Heibokmayum (21st rank), daughter of Md. Sayed Ahmed of Lilong, student of Islamic Baby English High School, Lilong; 2) Khullakpam Sunil Khan (23rd rank), son of Md. A. Hassan of Oinam Sawombung, student of Little Master English Higher Secondary School, Oinam; 3) Iqbal Hussain (24th rank), son of Md. Abdul Majid of Lilong Haoreibi Makha Leikei, student of Little Master English Higher Secondary School, Oinam; and for HSE: 1) Md. Raeesh Khan (16th rank), son of Md. Najir Khan of Keibung; 2) S. Noor Rahman (16th rank), son of S. Kasim of Thoubal Wangkhem.
In all, 18 rank-holders and meritorious Muslim students were felicitated at the function. Each of the students was presented cash prize along with citation and gift pack. Dr. Md. Sirajuddin, who was recently appointed as Principal of Y.K. College at Wangjing in Thoubal District was also felicitated.
AMMCOTA, since its inception in 2006, endeavors to promote education within the community by raising the issues of the Muslim students. Today, the association has 41 members, who all are permanent teachers in the government colleges of Manipur.
Office-bearers and members of AMMCOTA
In Manipur, like elsewhere, the educational attainment of the Muslims is very low compared to other religious communities. 2001 census shows that the literacy rate of Muslims is 59% (male 75%, female 42%), much below the state’s average of 71% (male 80%, female 61%).
Survey reports have shown that at the school level the percentage of ‘out of school’ and drop-out among the Muslim children is quite high, and the enrolment and retention rate of Muslims, particularly girls, in higher education is extremely low. It has also been observed that the educational attainment of the Muslims, in general, is mainly affected by poverty, low educational status of the parents, acute shortage of educational institutions in Muslim concentrated areas and the poor quality of teaching in the government schools, etc. The low representation of Muslims in government employment also discouraged the Muslims for education. Besides financial constraints, lack of interest by the parents (mainly illiterate parents), lack of exclusive girls’ schools, residential and scholarship facilities, and the social tradition of early marriage of girls posed as the main hurdles to the Muslim girls’ education in Manipur.