Be it learning or teaching, the Muslim community is lagging behind all communities, including the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, in higher education. These are the findings of the latest All India Survey on Education conducted under the Ministry of Education.
The AISHE Survey 2020-21 presents a dismal picture of the community. At a time when the enrolment of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in higher education improved by 4.2%, 11.9% and 4%, respectively, compared with 2019-20, the Muslim community’s enrolment declined by 8%, numbering around 1,79,000 students. This unprecedented decline, caused partially by the COVID-19 pandemic, points to the relative economic impoverishment of the community, which forces its talented students to pursue earning opportunities after completing schooling rather than enrolling for higher education, beginning at the graduation level.
The most drastic decline was reported from Uttar Pradesh (36%), followed by Jammu and Kashmir (26%), Maharashtra (8.5%) and Tamil Nadu (8.1%). In Delhi, every fifth Muslim student failed to enrol for higher education after completing the Senior School Certificate Examination. This takes away some of the sheen from the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) much talked about improvements in education in the national capital.
Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, where Muslims are about 20% of the population, the community’s enrolment for higher education stands at a mere 4.5% even though the State has reported a significant increase in the number of colleges during the year.
Kerala is the only State which bucks the trend of Muslims languishing at the bottom of the education pile. Here, 43% Muslims go for higher education.
The survey presents a bright picture of the OBC community, which accounts for 36% of the total enrolment in higher education in the country. The SCs bring up another 14%. The two communities cover nearly 50% of the seats in universities and colleges.
The Muslim community proves a laggard, accounting for only 4.6% higher education enrolment though the community’s share in the country’s population stands at over 14%.
Interestingly, Muslims and other minorities have more female students than male students, pointing to a gradual uplift of the women of the minority communities. It also point towards the pressure to earn a living at the earliest on the male members of the community.
The poor entry-level presence of Muslims in pursuing higher education is mirrored by the equally bleak presence of Muslim teachers in institutions of higher education. At an all-India level, teachers belonging to the General Category account for 56% of all teachers. OBC, SC and ST teachers make up another 32%, 9% and 2.5% of the teachers, respectively. Muslims constitute only about 5.6% of the teachers.
In terms of gender, there are 75 female teachers for a 100 male teachers. Here, too, female teachers of the OBC, SC and ST categories are doing better than their Muslim counterparts. While there are 71% female OBC teachers and 75% female ST teachers, there are only 59 female Muslim teachers for every 100 male Muslim teachers.
Likewise, the survey reveals that the highest females per 100 males among non-teaching staff is 85 from Other Minority Communities. The Muslims’ share is the lowest with 34 females for 100 males.
According to the AISHE survey, the total estimated enrolment in higher education stands at 4,13,80,71. Nearly 91 lakh students are in universities and constituent units. Females students account for 48.67% while the enrolment of male students stands at 51.33%.
The findings of the survey came five months after the Ministry of Minority Affairs scrapped the Maulana Azad Fellowship for Muslim students pursuing higher education. Separately, the erstwhile BJP government in Karnataka had done away with 4% reservation for Muslims before the Assembly election.