Muslims have a low rate of enrollment in higher education

The Ministry of Education’s All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-21 finds that Muslims are underrepresented in higher education in comparison to other communities.

What is the AISHE?

  • Since 2010-11, the Ministry of Education has conducted an annual web-based AISHE to assess the state of higher education in the country.
  • Data is collected on a variety of parameters, including teachers, student enrollment, curricula, test outcomes, education financing, and infrastructure.
  • Data obtained through AISHE will also be used to calculate indicators of educational advancement such as Institution Density, Gross Enrollment Ratio, Pupil-teacher Ratio, Gender Parity Index, and Per Student Expenditure.
  • These are useful in making educated policy decisions and conducting research for educational growth.

Minority Education Data from AISHE 2020-21

According to the poll, Muslim enrolment is declining, possibly due to financial restrictions and restricted alternatives for higher education.

(1) Decline in Muslim Enrollment:

  • Muslim enrollment in higher education fell by 8% in the 2020-21 academic year, while other marginalised minorities saw increases.
  • Economic hardship causes talented Muslim students to prioritise earning possibilities after finishing school over furthering their studies.
  • UP (36%), J&K (26%), Maharashtra (8.5%), and TN (8.1%) saw significant drops.
  • A considerable proportion of Muslim students in Delhi did not enrol in higher education.

(2) The Low Enrollment Rate in Uttar Pradesh:

  • Muslims account for around 20% of the state’s population.
  • Despite an increase in the number of colleges in UP, Muslim enrollment in higher education is only 4.5%.

(3) Kerala’s Outstanding Performance:

  • Kerala is the only state where 43% of Muslims pursue higher education, bucking the national trend of low enrollment.

(4) Female enrolment improving:

  • Female student attendance in Muslim and other minority populations is higher than male student enrollment, demonstrating progress for women in minority communities.
  • Male Muslim community members are under pressure to work early, which may impede their pursuit of higher education.

(5) Lack of Muslim Teachers:

  • Muslim representation in higher education institutions is dangerously low, accounting for only 5.6%.
  • Teachers in the General Category make up 56% of the total, with OBC, SC, and ST teachers accounting for 32%, 9%, and 2.5%, respectively.
  • Gender gaps in education continue, with only 59 female Muslim instructors for every 100 male Muslim teachers.

Causes of such low enrollment

  • Religious influence: Within the Muslim community, many socioeconomic and cultural conventions prioritise early marriage and family duties above obtaining higher education, particularly for female students.
  • Economic Difficulties: The Muslim community has financial constraints that limit their capacity to pay for higher education expenses such as tuition and housing.
  • Lack of Awareness and Guidance: Many Muslim students, particularly those from marginalised families, are unaware of available higher education possibilities, scholarships, and other forms of assistance.
  • Preferences for religious preachings: Given the intense rivalry and lack of reservation facilities, many families choose religious lectures at Madrasas to STEM education.
  • Discrimination and Stereotypes: Religious discrimination and bias deter Muslim students from pursuing higher education and foster a sense of alienation in educational institutions.
  • Socio-political Factors: Political choices, policy changes, or the discontinuation of educational assistance programmes can all have a direct impact on Muslim student participation in higher education.

Schemes in India to promote Muslim education

  • Scholarships are available for minority students pursuing M Phil and Ph D programmes through the Maulana Azad National Fellowship.
  • National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC): Provides economically disadvantaged minority students with interest-free loans and scholarships.
  • The Nai Udaan Scheme provides free coaching and help to minority students taking competitive exams.
  • Seekho Aur Kamao (Learn and Earn) Scheme: Provides skill development and vocational training to minority students in order to increase their employability.
  • Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarship Schemes: Provides financial aid for educational expenses in order to promote minority students’ access to education.
  • Bridge Courses & Remedial Coaching: Assists minority students in closing academic gaps and improving academic performance.

Way Forward

  • To counteract the decreased participation of Muslim students in higher education, the following initiatives should be made:
  • Scholarships and financial assistance are provided to economically needy Muslim students.
  • Developing awareness programmes to emphasise the value of higher education and its long-term benefits.
  • Developing mentoring and support mechanisms for Muslim students in collaboration with community organisations.
  • Policies that encourage inclusive education and fair opportunity for all communities are being implemented.
  • Encouraging Muslim teachers and non-teaching staff recruitment and representation in higher education institutions.
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