HYDERABAD: Muslim children have low enrolment and retention rates in schools and are getting excluded from India's growth economy on account of "self-fulfilling prophecy" of discrimination which is connected to the lack of education in the community, said eminent human rights activist Harsh Mander on Tuesday.
Addressing a gathering of academics and activists at a the Muslim Children's Issues and Right to Education workshop at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (Manuu), Harsh Mander, while maintaining that discrimination was a reality in public and private sectors, said, "This prophecy is the idea that 'I will be discriminated against' and that 'there is no point in getting educated.' 'The only option I have left is to get self-employed in small businesses.' This, is causing the exclusion from India's growth economy."
He said that discrimination in school was linked with terrorism and violence which is reflected in the treatment of children by teachers and peers and is also manifested in a communalised history. Quoting NC Saxena, a member of the Planning Commission, and highlighting the biased content of school textbooks, Mander said, "Indian soldier Abdul Hameed was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously in 1965. A text book in Uttar Pradesh said that despite being a Muslim he was a patriot."
Listing ten recommendations to combat child labour, Mander said that 100% scholarships "across all levels" be awarded to Muslims in addition to setting up residential schools for street children and child labourers. "
Around 500 such schools are needed in Hyderabad. School curriculum should be more pluralistic. There should be stronger enforcement of labour laws and Muslims-concentrated areas should get more polytechnics," he said.
Prof Kancha Ilaiah from Manuu's Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy said that comparative studies showed that emphasis on education in Muslim community was less than SCs and OBCs. AP State Minorities commissioner Abid Rasool Khan noted that there was only 3% implementation of the PM 15-point programme for minorities in only 16 districts of the state. "The chief secretary has not convened a single meeting. The remaining districts have no information to show as administration has not even taken initiative," he said.
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