New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Members of a national committee monitoring access of minorities to education, which met for the first time here Monday, pitched for creating an authentic databank on the educational status of minority communities in the country.
The National Monitoring Committee for Minorities’ Education Monday saw several members pointing to the lack of availability of reliable data.
A presentation on the educational situation of minorities, specially Muslims based on a national sample survey of 2007-08, deemed financial weakness as one of the main reasons for Muslims not being able to go for higher education. The data was based on a survey of around 400 random individuals.
Raising the issue, CPI-M MP and panel member Moinul Hassan said the sample of 400 among millions of Muslims in the country was not reliable at all.
“Giving the data based on a sample survey of 400 is not enough,” he said.
Activist Teesta Setalvad, also a member, said a common platform needed to be formed to compare the data coming up from different sources.
“The government data has a lot of loopholes. We don’t say NGO data is perfect, but there should be a common platform so that at least both data could be compared,” she said.
Activist Sheba Hussain also pointed out how the government data on enrollment in primary classes and the data collected by her NGO Beti foundation differed.
The report, prepared by the ministry, says family expectations for taking up jobs, value for traditional professions in the family and pressure of starting earning soon are among the main reasons for Muslims being held back from getting higher education.
It, however, added that higher education was seen as “an investment for higher return”, but finance was a problem.
Central University Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung raised objection, saying Muslims should not be painted in black and white as more from the community wanted to give good education to their children, but resources were limited.
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who was chairing the meeting assured the members that the committee will consider all aspects and see that the goal of equal opportunities to all communities is achieved.
The newly-constituted committee decided to set up five panels to look into various aspects of education focusing on minority communities.
“After scheduled tribes, minorities, specially Muslims, are most backward in education. Strong steps are needed to bring them into the mainstream,” Sibal told reporters here after the meeting.
“Change can only be brought when we decide that in next five years, we have to change the face of the situation, and this is the first step,” he said.
The committee includes eminent representatives from all minority communities.
The minister informed that the committee will meet again after three months to assess the progress of its work.
Five committees will be made which will focus on vocational skills training focusing on minorities-dominated districts, implementation of schemes focused on minorities, promotion of Urdu and increasing employability, education of girls from minorities, and mapping education requirements in regions.