This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Prabhanu Kumar Das. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What Does Education Signify For A Muslim Student In 2021 India?

More from Prabhanu Kumar Das

Education is critical to tackling discrimination that marginalised communities face. This is particularly true for Indian Muslims who are, today, India’s most educationally disadvantaged community. In comparison to their population, they have the lowest enrolment rates at elementary, high school and higher secondary school education, as well as higher education. Amidst the turbulent political climate today, what does education signify for a Muslim student in India?

Momina has taken a gap year to prepare for NEET 2022. Having lived in Jamia during the 2019 police brutality and having grandparents who lived through the violence of the partition, she is well aware of the polarization that lives and breathes freely in India.

For her, education and social media have helped her find solidarity in the country and the world when she needs comfort and confidence. “Even if the people around me are not supporting me, and even if I feel alienated in my classroom. I am aware of a group of people who are protesting for the issues I protest for in America, or London. That feels reassuring that other people concern themselves with our rights and with the difficulty that we are in,” she says.

To her, education is also a way to help uplift her community. She explains, “Being educated also helps you spread a lot of good in the community. For example, there is a lawyer in my extended family who has helped people from my community and anyone who has been affected by the corrupt policies of the government.”

Protest against police brutality in Jamia
Momina is well aware of the institutional brutality against Muslims, having lived in the Jamia area during the 2019 police brutality.

On a more personal level, she tells me about how the power of being educated has helped her combat misinformation in her circles. “My best friend used to be a somewhat lukewarm supporter of the BJP and I used to talk to her about politics and she tried to educate herself and now she is more committed to try and fight against communal political ideologies and that was something I was very grateful for, to have my friend see this side of things,” she says.

Rich, Poor Or a Muslim?

Religion, in India, cuts through classes and social location. Rich or poor, you’re a Muslim first. The vicious trolling of Aryan and Shahrukh Khan is a prime example.

For Faizan Ajmeri, today is a day of celebration. Hailing from Gujarat’s Valsad, he is the first from his district to have cracked NEET, the national entrance test in India to pursue an MBBS. When I spoke to Faizan, he was happy to tell me about his journey in education.

His education was not static in school, having studied in his village till the second grade, then moving to Saudi Arabia and studying there till the 7th Grade in a CBSE-affiliated school. He later moved back to India and completed his schooling. Being the generation that unfortunately had to complete their schooling in the pandemic, Faizan had to take the help of online coaching for the NEET instead of the traditional physical classes, but he didn’t look at it as a setback.

When asked about what the last few months before the NEET were like, he says, “I still used to make silly mistakes in the mock exams, and sometimes I couldn’t remember the concepts. I just worked as hard as I could and followed my plan and schedule, so I didn’t get too many problems in studying.”

Muslim woman studying school
Education has become an important tool for a community neglected in Independent India.

Faizan is one of the privileged few who, despite obstacles, got the chance to finish his elementary education.

Faizan’s victory is a personal victory, it is a show of his hard work and dedication, but it is also much more than that. His victory is a victory of representation for a community that has been sidelined, witch-hunted, and suffered institutional bias in independent India.

Anas Shoeb Khan, a senior associate at the Centre For Civil Society, and a law graduate with a post-graduate diploma in human rights celebrated Faizan’s achievement.

He tells me, “Muslim representation in government-managed higher education institutions has been very low, very far from their proportion in the population Of India. In my understanding, the reason for this is that there has always been an institutional bias since independence. When someone like Faizan, and any Muslim excels in education, the community gets together to celebrate, and take that instance as representation.”

Kashmiri Muslim children study as they attend alternate classes run by local volunteers on August 11, 2016 in Srinagar, India. Photo by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Being An ‘Educated’ Muslim In India

The All India Survey On Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20 suggests that Muslims make up just 5.5% of the total enrolled students in higher education. In institutes like NLU, the figures are even worse, with Muslims making up just 3.88% of the NLU student body. To place these figures into a wider context, Muslims make up 14% of the population in India.

It is mind-boggling to realize that universities like Jamia Millia Islamia, and Aligarh Muslim University, established in 1920 and 1875 respectively, and parts of India’s freedom struggle still don’t have off-campuses due to an institutional bias.

According to Anas, what students like Faizan convey is that with the right set of institutional opportunities, Muslims can thrive and become better educated. They can break out of the stereotypes that have been assigned to them by Indian society.

“The gist of what I am saying is that amidst the current climate, these are examples that the community stands behind, wants to promote, and these examples are seen as representative of the community. Other individuals within the community would get some sort of hope and solace from these examples.

In an event that we did to honour Faizan, we made sure that other children, students, and their parents come so that maybe they won’t live in an environment of pessimism. We know that the environment is currently pessimistic and nihilistic, but this gives us hope.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Youth Ki Awaaz (@youthkiawaaz)

Why Representation Is Crucial

There is another aspect to education’s ability to empower a marginalized community which Anas elucidates. “In Faizan’s case, I know that if I go to this doctor, He is not going to treat me as a second-class citizen. When there is a community health crisis, this is someone we can look to.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Youth Ki Awaaz (@youthkiawaaz)

Anas’ arguments point to a critical concern of representation. Furqan Qamar and Navneet Shamra sum it well in this Deccan Herald article.

“The share of Muslims in higher education enrolment has gone up from 2.53% in 2010-11 to 5.45% in 2019-20. This indicates that if given an opportunity, the community is keen to be in the mainstream. However, it is disquieting that the growth rate of Muslim enrolment in higher education has lately been declining — from 120.09% during 2010-11 to 2014-15, to only 36.96% during 2014-15 to 2019-20. Resultantly, only 21 lakh Muslims were enrolled in higher education as of 2019-20.

Muslims in India suffer on account of the misperception of being outsiders, invaders, anti-nationals, pro-Pakistan, descendants of cruel rulers who committed atrocities on Hindus. What the community needs are handholding and support to make it to mainstream higher education in much larger numbers, commensurate with their share in the population.”

You must be to comment.

More from Prabhanu Kumar Das

Similar Posts

By Sofia Babu Chacko

By Jaimine

By Akdas Hayat

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below