Enrolment of Muslims in Bengal varsities abysmally low, says survey

A file photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee meeting Muslim students after giving them scholarships.

A file photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee meeting Muslim students after giving them scholarships.  

Lack of education at primary and secondary levels is seen as one of the main reasons

The percentage of Muslim students in leading State and Central universities of West Bengal is abysmally low, revealed the sixth All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) for the year 2015-16. The report, prepared by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD), was released on Monday.

Among the elite institutions that could not enrol any Muslim student in 2015-16 are the Presidency University in Kolkata, Visva Bharati in Shantiniketan, the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, the West Bengal University of Teachers’ Training, Education Planning and Administration in Kolkata, the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Kalyani, the Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol, the West Bengal State University in Kolkata, and the Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswa Vidyalaya in Mohanpur. Amity, a private university, also has no Muslims among the 1,140 students enrolled in it.

However, it is not clear from the AISHE report if Muslims are listed under the OBC category by the institutions. “That is unlikely as the number of Muslims is indicated under a separate column for all other institutions,” said an expert associated with similar surveys in the State.

A little over 27% of Bengal’s population is Muslim. In nearly all of the State’s universities and institutes of higher education, the percentage of Muslims stands between 0 and 3%.

The West Bengal Minister of State for Minority Affairs Giasuddin Molla did not deny that Muslims were failing to make it to the institutes of higher education in the State. “In a few places, the number of Muslim students is very low and we are trying to figure out the reasons,” he told The Hindu.

A 2016 report on the status of Muslims published in 2016 by the Pratichi Institute founded by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and Association SNAP, a social network of volunteers, stated that owing to “the higher population share of Muslims in rural areas, the overall literacy rate [69.5%] of Muslims is substantially affected.” Moreover, government data indicates that the dropout rate of students from primary and secondary schooling is higher among Muslims. Many feel that it is the lack of education at the primary and secondary levels that stops Muslims from making it to universities of higher education.

In Jadavpur University, for example, of the total number of 8,329 students enrolled in the 2015-16 academic year, only 50 (0.6%) were Muslim. The premier Kolkata-based centrally-funded Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) could enrol only eight (1.08%) Muslim students out of an intake of 740 in 2015-16, says the AISHE report. The Rabindra Bharati University, which enrolled a massive 46,522 students in 2015-16, had only 2.34% Muslim students, and the University of North Bengal in Siliguri had 2.6% Muslim students.

Aliah and Gour Banga

Meanwhile, the Aliah University in Burdwan and the University of Gour Banga in the Malda district enrolled the maximum number of Muslim students. Aliah University, funded by the West Bengal Minority Affairs and Madrasah Education Department, had 6,656 Muslims out of a total of 6,772 students.

The Gour Banga University enrolled a little over 27% Muslim students. However, Gour Banga has only about 2,500 students.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 3:15:09 PM |

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