The report on nursery school admissions of Muslim children in Delhi schools (March 19) highlights a very real issue that affects the every day life of Muslims. In 2009-10, as part of the National CRY Fellowship Programme, I interviewed several families in Zakir Nagar, New Delhi, on questions regarding educational choices. Parents regarded modern education as the single most important factor which safeguarded their child's future and clearly articulated a preference for sending children to reputed public schools. However, their narratives echoed an increasing sense of helplessness and exasperation at the manner in which it was difficult for their child to gain admission. Even though most parents shied away from using the term “discrimination”— many talked about the fact that even though they did not have substantial proof it seemed like the nearby schools had some sort of a “prefixed quota of just this much and no more Muslims” — they cited how the neighbourhood points seemed to have marginal weightage in the case of nearby schools. Others talked about having to use ‘jugaad' and ‘approach' to get their child admitted saying that this was not an option available to the ordinary Muslim. This leads to a rather vicious situation wherein on one side the policy discourse refers to educational backwardness as one of the main causes for real and/or perceived alienation of Muslims and acknowledges inclusive education as a panacea; however, the real life situations demonstrate the every day problems that ordinary Muslims face in accessing these very opportunities leading to further isolation, exclusion and excessive reliance on ‘Muslim managed services.'
Keywords: nursery school admissions