Eleven of 100 Muslims in India take up higher education – the lowest as regards religion-based enrolment in higher education. In comparison, 20% Hindus and 31% Christians pursue higher education, states a draft report compiled by the union ministry of human resource and development.
The figure for other religions is above the national average pegged at 18.8% of the country’s total population. The draft report, which is based on the National Sample Survey (2009-10) data, attributes the low percentage among Muslims to “various socio-economic reasons”.
Higher education includes technical, vocational and professional courses at secondary and post-secondary levels.
The situation is worse in rural India – only 6.7% Muslims take up higher education.
The low enrolment among Muslims has prompted the national planning commission to propose a new scheme to open colleges in Muslim areas over the next five years.
On Sunday, economist Amartya Sen advised Muslim clerics to look into core issues of poverty, education and health within the community, instead of skirting them by organising protests against trivial issues like films or writer Salman Rushdie.
Chairman of the human resource department’s national sub-committee for minorities’ education, Dr Zahir Kazi, attributed the poor enrolment to low share at school level and lack of targeted efforts by state governments.
“In Maharashtra, where Muslims constitute 12.5% of the population, enrolment in elementary education rose from 6% to 12.8% between 2006 and 2011. But states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal need to do a lot,” said Dr Kazi, also chairman of Anjuman-e-Islam Group of educational institutes.
Social activist Fareed Khan attributed the problem to wrong priorities of Muslim leaders. “The recent protest against a film will help the producer make money while common Muslims get nothing. I hope our leaders work seriously to uplift the community first,” said Khan.