PFI distributes scholarship to needy Muslim students of Manipur

By Dr. Syed Ahmed, for,

Imphal: Popular Front of India (PFI), Manipur State organized a scholarship distribution programme at Lilong Haoreibi Mayai Leikai Bazar at Lilong on 24 Nov. 2012. The 10 Muslims, who cleared the Manipur Civil Services Examination, 2010 conducted by Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC) were also feted at the function.

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The function was graced by the presence of President of PFI, Manipur State Mufti Arshad Hussain Quasmi, President of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), Manipur State Maulana Wahidur Rahaman, Retired Teacher and Social Worker Md. Abdul Hasim, among others. Besides Muslim leaders and intellectuals, large number of students attended the function.

Dr. Md. Rabban Shah delivering speech

Giving his speech, Mufti Arshad Hussain highlighted some of the activities taken up by the Manipur chapter of PFI in the field of education. He said, “The organization gives foremost priority to education of the Muslims as education is the key to the development of the Muslims and other marginalized sections of the society. We have special educational assistance programmes. Giving scholarship to the Muslim students who come from poor economic background is one such programmes. Then we also organize ‘school chalo’ campaign, which we take up during May-June. As a part of this campaign we distribute study materials to school children from poor families. In order to identify some of the key issues that hinder the educational progress of the Muslim community we organize surveys, seminars and workshops. We also help students through orientation and career guidance programmes.”

Maulana Wahidur Rahaman said that it is through education that the Muslim community could improve their pathetic condition. We need education to end poverty and improve the standard of living, bridge the gender disparity, increase the role in the decision-making process and realize the rights and opportunities, he added.

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Md. Rabban Shah, one of the Muslims who cleared the Manipur civil services exam, asserted, “We should try to give up the habit of demanding our rights only and not fulfilling our duties. Like the other communities we also need to realize our potentials. Instead of just waiting for assistance from the government we need to know our priorities, chalk out strategies and work hard to achieve those targets.”

Mufti Arshad Hussain Quasmi giving momento

Dr. Syed Ahmed, author of this report, presented a paper which flagged some of the issues faced by the Muslim community in the field of education. The paper also probed into some of the worrying trends that developed over the years in the field of education in the State. The paper noted, “In Manipur parents have lost confidence in the public education system. This has led to the mushrooming of private schools and coaching centres. Education has been privatized and commercialized. The Annual Status of Education Report, 2011 shows that Manipur has the highest private school enrolment in India. 71% of the school-going children in Manipur are enrolled in private schools. It increased from 58.7% in 2007. In such a situation education became a privilege for the rich. The most economically backward sections of the society, like the Muslims, fail to get access to quality education.”

Besides financial constraints, inadequate school facilities, social traditions like early marriage of girls, giving less importance to girls’ education by Muslim parents are cited as some of the stumbling blocks for the educational development of the Muslims in Manipur, the paper stated.

“Even though the Muslims in the State are at present the most economically backward community, they started moving out of the State to acquire knowledge from the early part of 19th century. However it was to acquire religious knowledge. They studied at the madrasas in Assam, Dacca, Sylhet, Delhi, Meerut, Panipat, etc. The first alim Maulana Ebadulla (b. 1844) from Irong Chesaba in Thoubal district returned after completing his studies in 1871 from a madrasa in East Bangal. Darul-ul-loom Baskandi at Baskandi in Assam, one of the oldest madrasa in North-East India, was established by a Manipuri Muslim named Haji Hafiz Akbar Ali. Madrasa Alia at Lilong and Madrasa Mazharul Uloom were established in the early 1940s. Maulana Rahimuddin wrote a book titled ‘Musalman-e-Manipuri’ in 1934-36. British administrative reports record that in 1907 a school, named Lilong LP Madrasa, established at Lilong, introduced Arabic, Urdu and Persian in the curriculum. These languages were further introduced in other schools situated in the Muslim areas. Maulvis were recruited as teachers to teach these languages. These languages were taught till late 1960s. Muslims started acquiring modern education from the early part of the 20th century. Qazi Waliulla graduated in 1928 from Ripon College in Calcutta. He later became a member of the Manipur State Durbar from 1940-43. Md. Abdul Ali, the first Muslim doctor, completed his medical course from Berry White Medical College in Assam. Among the Muslim women, Laljan Begum and Sanahanbi from Hafiz Hatta were the first matriculates. Laljan went on to become Principal of a college and retired as member of Manipur State Women Commission. However, education for a long period became a priority for just a few Muslims in the State,” the paper further noted.

Maulana Wahidur Rahaman giving momento

The paper also made few recommendations to improve the educational standard of the Muslim community. “The State government should ensure that the implementation process of the various educational schemes, like scholarship and coaching schemes, are free from irregularities by monitoring regularly. In order to know the deficits and weak areas of Muslims in the field of education, surveys should be done regularly by State agencies. State government should also ensure that needy Muslims get easy access to educational loans from banks. Government should devise mechanism to check school drop-out by Muslim students, especially girls. Educational infrastructures in Muslim-inhabited areas should be improved through Multi-sectoral Development Programmes. The State Government should also ensure that educational programmes taken up by ICDS, SSA, RMSA and the State Education Department are implemented effectively in Muslim inhabited areas. And last but not the least, Muslims at large should be made aware of the importance of education in empowering them and the opportunities that the government is providing for them. For this we need Muslim leaders, social workers, intellectuals and civil society organizations,” the paper concluded.

The successful Muslim candidates in the MPSC Exam were felicitated by giving momentos, which was followed by the distribution of the scholarship to the Muslim students.