Academics happy that they get a good number to fill 3.5 % BC (Muslim) quota

From one or two in an entire college, it is now three or more in each class. This is the number of Muslim girls taking up higher education in Coimbatore. A look at the admissions that just got over for the undergraduate courses reveals that there has been a remarkable increase in the number of Muslim girls getting admitted to colleges and deemed universities in the city.

Though there are a lot more who are still denied education in the name of convention, academics are happy that they get a good number to fill the 3.5 per cent Backward Class (Muslim) quota. The quota includes seats for girls and boys.

U. Jerina Bi, a first-generation graduate who is now the Dean of Faculty of Management, Avinashilingam University for Women, remembers how it was 30 years ago and how it is now.

“Those where times when girls got married when they turned 14 and had to drop out of school. From then till now, there has been a remarkable improvement in the number of girls opting for higher education. There has been a steady increase. Even now there are cases of girls dropping out after the first year or second year of graduation, but they are negligible in number compared to those completing higher education,” she says.

Being the co-ordinator of UGC schemes for students belonging to minorities, Ms. Jerina Bi says there are more than 10 per cent Muslims studying in the Bharathiar University now – from UG to doctorate. Increased awareness makes them avail of the various scholarships and government schemes.

She says a majority of girls from Karumbukadai and Kottaimedu choose to study in the university because they feel safe.

But a glimpse outside of the university reveals another trend also – that of girls choosing even co-education institutions, based on choice of course and proximity to residence.

R. Rajendran, Principal of PSG College of Arts and Science, says there is a good response from Muslim girls for all the courses.

“There is no inhibition, only a conviction to study. They come with much confidence. Those from the lower middle class and below poverty line do not hesitate as there are scholarships and schemes to help them. There are two Muslim girls among those selected for the free education system this year,” he says.

Badri Sriman Narayanan, Principal of NGM College, Pollachi, says there has been an increase even from among the rural lot.

“Girls from the very affluent rural families are not sent. But, parents who are employed in the government sector want to educate their girls. The drop out rate has reduced considerably,” he says.

The faculty at Government Arts College, Coimbatore, say the number of Muslim girls taking up higher education is very high in Coimbatore compared to other districts. The State government BC (M) quota of 3.5 per cent is not enough to accommodate many eligible candidates.

Controller of Examinations of the College K. Shanmuga Sundaram says that there are many girls who come with their parents, sometimes only the mother, to inquire about the courses. “When they do not get a course of their choice, they are open to study any course. Such is the interest they have in pursuing higher studies,” he says.

S. Jabeen, second year MBA student, says the days of Muslim girls living within the confines of a home are over. “The girls in my family are examples. All of us are getting an education though our mothers have not even completed school education. Now they want us to earn respect that only education can give. Education has broken the barriers of convention,” she says.