11 per cent of these schools have student strength of 25 and below: study

There are 171 Urdu-medium government primary schools in Bangalore Urban district, an impressive coverage for the linguistic minority community. However, only 17 per cent of Urdu-speaking children aged between five and 14 go to these schools.

NGO's study

A study by Akshara Foundation says that of the 1,94,346 Urdu-speaking children, 32,823 are enrolled in schools where the medium of instruction is Urdu. While an estimated 20 per cent of children are not enrolled in schools, the remaining study in English- and Kannada-medium schools. A section of them are in madrasas.

The study says that there is also a gap between enrolment as per official records and actual attendance. The team found a 27 per cent gap between enrolment and attendance. Eleven per cent of Urdu-medium schools have student strength of 25 and below.

Only four high schools

Another significant observation of the study is that options shrink drastically for children who want to continue their education in Urdu as there are only four high schools.

“This situation — low availability of secondary schools for linguistic minorities — seems to hold true in many parts of the country and may force Urdu-medium children to either drop out after class 8 or attend Kannada- or English-medium schools,” says the study. In Bangalore Urban district, of the 1,410 government primary schools, 171 are Urdu-medium schools. Besides, there are 20 aided and 39 private Urdu-medium schools.

The team, led by K. Vaijayanti of Akshara Foundation, visited the Urdu-medium schools in Bangalore and interviewed 25 headmasters and 35 teachers.

Of the 44,998 government primary schools in Karnataka, 3,956 (9 per cent) are Urdu-medium schools.

Economic background

The Akshara Foundation made a parallel study of the economic background of parents. It surveyed 7,350 households that showed that 45 per cent live in houses with asbestos roofs, while 36 per cent live in ‘kucha' structures. As many as 44 per cent of the households cited casual labour as their occupation.

The study places its findings alongside the Sachar Committee's report, which said that Muslim families, especially in southern parts of Karnataka, prefer to send their children to Urdu-medium schools. Girls form a bigger portion in this. The committee also observed that Muslim parents are not averse to mainstream education or sending their children to affordable government schools.

The 55th round of the National Sample Survey shows that 40 per cent of Muslims, as compared to 22 per cent of Hindus, belong to the absolute poor category in urban areas. Nearly 30 per cent of urban Muslims are illiterate, as against 19 per cent Hindus.

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