Eucational Attainment of Muslims in India: With Special Reference to Female’s EducationDr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (December 10, 2016)


Uploaded on December 10, 2016


Dr. Parveen Qamar
Asst. Professor, Deptt. of DWE, MANUU, Hyderabad


Education always plays a very important role in every one’s life. It makes an individual to internalize the value and norm of the society and simultaneously offers the specific skilled persons to serve different functions.

In 1950, India resolved to secure Justice, Liberty and Equality for all its citizens. Education is the best tool in hand to realise these noble goals.

Constitution of India has also guaranteed the basic living condition for all the citizens of India under Fundamental rights. These fundamental rights are minimum conditions a person requires to live a descent and dignified life irrespective of caste, community or religion or sex.

While recognising the ideals of equality constitution regards women as equal as men. In fact there are provisions when women are accorded special protection keeping in view their age old discrimination. The fundamental rights in the constitution are particularly important from the perspective of human rights of women. Article 14 provides equality before law; Articles15 provides prohibition of discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, creed, religion and sex. Article 21 provides the freedom of living with dignity “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty” It was realized that education is an important tool for a person to live his/her life with dignity. The Supreme Court in Bandhu Mukti Morcha v.Union Of India while interpreting the scope of the “right to life” under article 21, held that it included “educational facilities”.

The Amendment in the constitution done in 2002 as a result Article 21A included in Fundamental rights, seeks to make free and compulsory education for all children in the age group of 6-14 years. In 2009 enacted Right to Education Act, 2009. In this the children means both girls and boys, further the provision is irrespective of any condition. Not only this, in fact under the Directive principles of state policy, Article 39 f, laid down that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

But even after almost 7decades of Independence gender discrimination is very often seen in every field. It is not uncommon in Education too and Muslim women face considerable challenges.

Government reports have maintained that Muslim women are among the poorest. Gopal Singh Committee in 1983 declared Muslims as a Backward Community. Sachar Committee found it the same. The report says on an average Muslim men and women are far less educationally accomplished than their non-Muslim counterparts. This is not only in one or two states but almost in every state.

The data provided by National Sample Survey Organization and National Council of Applied Economic Research, Human Development Survey has been used to analyze the rate of enrollment of all socio-religious communities, It was concluded that the enrollment ratio has increased in all socio-religious communities. But this advancement is low (65 percent) among Muslims as compared to schedule caste and schedule tribe (95 percent).

Present Scenario

In 2001, 64.5 percent for the country's 461 million non-Muslim men were literate as compared to 55 per cent of India's 71 million Muslim males. In case of women 46 per cent of India's 430 million non-Muslim women were literate as compare to 41 per cent of the country's 67 million Muslim females. The rate, though not look very sound to comparison but in proportional terms, the all India Muslim literacy rate comes around 15 points lower than the non-Muslim males. In urban areas the percentage is even more i.e. 17percent.

In case of Muslim females this difference is 11point. In urban areas the difference is marked remarkably i.e. 19 point. As the one goes up in the ladder of education the gap increases.

Table: 1 - Educational difference between Muslim and Non-Muslim at various level.

On an average a Muslim child attends school for about 3 yrs and four months as against the national average of 4 (four) years. In elite schools Muslims found are only 2 percent.

The dropout rate is also very high among Muslims. (Survey conducted in 21 states to assess the dropout rate at elementary school level, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)). The study also reveals that the Muslim girls are more regular and high in attendance but 6 percent are forced to drop out.

These differences in literacy levels existed across almost all states However, Muslim-non-Muslim literacy disparities were far less in the economically-advanced states of west and south India compared to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir. Unfortunately, these five states with high disparities accounted for over 61 per cent of the country's Muslim population.

So far as higher education is concerned, Muslims have the lowest rate of enrolment in higher education in India. 13.8% is the rate of Muslim enrolment in higher education, trailed the national figure of 23.6% and other backward classes (22.1%) and scheduled castes (18.5%). Muslims comprise almost 14% of India’s population but account for 4.4% of students enrolled in higher education, according to the 2014-15 All India Survey on Higher Education. Wide gap between Muslim men and women compared with ‘All Others is found.

The situation is worse in rural India where only 6.7% Muslims take up higher education.

Theories behind the Divide

There are actually two schools of thoughts, one consider Muslims as stereotype and their condition is due to the restrictions put on girls (females) by their own religion and so by their community.

The other school of thought considers it as the discriminatory attitude of the government towards the community.

Regarding the former, it is not correct to presume the stereotyping of Muslim community. In Islam, education is an important obligation, further in Islam, education had never been accorded to some and others are prohibited. In fact Qur’an never stops women to get education.

Islamic Stand on Education

The very first declaration of the Qur’an- ‘IQRA’ (to read) is about ‘education’. Prophet of Islam, Mohammad (SAWS) termed education as basic obligation for every individual- male and female, the very first time in the history of mankind, in 610 (AD).

The word IQRA means to read. Education of particular type and for particular person/s only, has not mentioned anywhere. In fact whatever education and whoever that serves the community and for the benefit of community is as good as other virtue.

There are examples when women were involved in nursing, attended the wounded persons in various wars at the time of prophet (SAW). So if the education is for the good of humanity, it is not prohibited in Islam for any one.

Also the teaching of Islam are same for all, be it men or women the only difference is the division of work, and not the division of opportunity. There was a time when Muslim rulers put efforts that every person whether Muslim or Hindu, man or woman, rich or poor, enshrined with the right to acquire knowledge.

The later theory attributed their discriminatory condition due to the state’s attitude towards the community. (The state includes the government, the administrative machinery, the police etc).

Education – A Constitutional Right

Observing the big amount of illiteracy, the constitution of India under article 45 made it obligatory on the Govt. to achieve 100% literacy within ten years from the enforcement of the constitution in 1950. Later the education was made compulsory by inclusion of Article 21A in the constitution under the fundamental rights with the right to life and liberty.

Even before including in the fundamental rights, Supreme Court emphasized its importance and fundamental nature. In Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka, court referred to Bandhu Mukti Morcha Case and held that “right to life” was the compendious expression for all those rights which the courts must enforce because they are basic to the dignified enjoyment of life. The court further observed that the right to life under article 21 and the dignity of an individual couldn’t be assured unless it was accompanied by the right to education. The court thus declared: “the right to education flows directly from right to life”. In Unni Krishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh the court held that the right to education was a fundamental right under Article 21 and that “it directly flows from the right to life.”

Despite being But there are evidences that Muslims are much behind, even from the other socio-economically weeks.

The Real Obstacle

A survey revealed that 47 per cent of Indian Muslims said it was difficult to survive on their incomes, compared with 39 per cent of Hindus. (INA) They are under -represented in public as well as private jobs. The number and percentage of Muslims in all government sectors. They have steadily declined from 31 percent in early 1947 to only 2.3 percent in 2001. When they are not economically sound they feel unable to bear the burden of education in general and for girls in particular.

Not only this their identity affects their everyday living ranging from being unable to rent/buy a house to accessing good schools for their children, marginal access to credit in banks and less wages. All these contribute to their discriminatory condition and the gap continue to exist.

The table below shows the marked difference in literacy level between Muslims and Non-Muslim. The gap is very wide at literacy level, and above secondary level education. Though not very wide at the secondary and below level. Rather at one point of time Muslims were doing good in secondary and below level than their counterpart.

Table: 2 Percentage distribution of persons by Education for Each Socio-religious Category (SRC), (Rural+Urban and Male+Female), 17-29 years

Source: Rakesh Basant. An Analysis of Patterns and Trends, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, 2012

Conclusions and Suggestions

Various reports of the government have revealed the poor socio-economic background of Muslims. Their representations in public sectors are abysmal low. Also in the organized sector they are underrepresented. Disparity is found in the wage structure also. This makes the community unable to send their children especially girls in good schools or not to continue for higher education. Though political parties included in their agendas to provide good schools with all the necessary facilities but implemented a little. The positive attitudes of political parties are required.

Also there are many institutions who have failed miserably to provide inclusive social environment. If we overcome this sluggish attitude, more Muslims might be able to send their daughters and sisters to schools.

Since Muslims fear a lot, more than any other socio-economically weak group as well as religious groups, so steps are required to be taken to inculcate the feeling of security and oneness.

The low enrolment among Muslims has prompted the national planning commission to propose a new scheme to open colleges in Muslim areas over the next five years. (DNA analysis) The state machinery must try to realize this dream at the earliest.

State is not only the sole responsible for their degrading condition in fact to some extent it is our own responsibility also to prioritize our issues/problems. There is no denying the fact that Muslims in India lacks true leadership so they should take steps carefully at least at individual level.

It was concluded on the basis of data related to enrollment of children, provided by National Sample Survey Organization and National Council of Applied Economic Research, Human Development Survey (2004-05) that the enrollment ratio has increased in all socio-religious communities. But this advancement is low just 65 percent among Muslims as compared to even schedule caste and schedule tribe where it is 95 percent. Since this difference is not very evident in the upper class Muslims so it can be concluded that if the needed section is provided sound economic assistance instead of a symbolic help they might be able to send their daughters and sisters to schools and to continue for higher education.

On the basis of above conclusion it would be better to say that “to provide education one needs to pave the way towards securing the education. Congenial environment will help the community to realize the dream come true. Albert Einstein words are enough to describe this “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn”


  •     A.I.R. 1993 SC 2178 (Unnikrishnan case)
  •     Sura Alaq 96/1
  •     Dr. Jabir Hasan Khan & Falak. Education and Development of Muslims in India: A comparative IOSR Journal of     Humanities and Social Study. In Science (IOSR-JHSS) Volume 13, Issue 2 (Jul. - Aug. 2013),
  •     S M Jaffar, Taleem Hindustan Kay Muslim Ahd-e-Hukumat mein, Traqqi Urdu Bureau New Delhi, 1984
  •     Report: The World's Women 2010 Trends and Statistics, United Nations New York, 2010.
  •     National Sample Survey Organization and National Council of Applied Economic Research, Human Development Survey (2004-05) has been used to analyze the rate of enrollment of all socio-religious communities. The committee has also utilized the data produced by 61st Round National Sample Survey Organization (2004-05) and compared with 55th Round National Sample Survey Organization (1999-2000) to estimate the changes in enrollment and attendance of children over a period of time.
  •        Survey for Assessment of Dropout Rates at Elementary Level, report submitted by TNS India Pvt. Ltd., 2013
  •      DNA, Tuesday, 5 February 2013, .based on the National Sample Survey 2009-10 data.
  •     AIR 802, 1984 SCR (2) 67 (Bandhu Mukti Morcha case)
  •     AIR 1992, 1858 (Mohini Jain Case)
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