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What ails Urdu medium schools in Maharashtra? Parents moving to English schools

By Imran Inamdar,

All is not well in Urdu-medium schools in Maharashtra as the state has the largest number of Urdu medium schools from primary to higher secondary in the country. It is said that more and more parents are preferring English medium schools over Urdu medium schools because of a host of factors.

We are living in an high tech era wherein every parent cherishes that his or her child to excel and get admission in professional courses because of this urge, they give preference to English over their mother tongue for educational purpose, said Hamid Iqbal Siddiqui, President ‘Quiz time’ who is also scholar and Urdu poet.

For conducting general knowledge quiz, I pay visit to various schools in Maharashtra where I came across some unsavoury activities that cannot be said on record, Siddiqui said while commenting on the state of affairs in Urdu medium schools. However, he praised Urdu teachers saying they are doing good job to get encouraging results in SSC Board examinations.

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He suggests that time has come to upgrade Urdu schools to compete with the so-called English schools by adopting modern teaching techniques, involving parents and making provision of attractive infrastructure.

Maharashtra boasts of having the largest number of Urdu medium-schools in the country. There numbers are in thousands from primary to higher secondary schools. Urdu is the mother tongue of more than 90 percent Muslims residing in the state .

The state is dotted with Urdu schools in town and cities as well as in villages which are run by societies, zilla parishad and municipal corporations.

It is also to worth to mention that hundreds of Urdu medium students have proved their mettle and excelled in each every discipline. These schools produced thousands of engineers, doctors, IT and business professionals and English Journalists.

But the irony is that these schools are now struggling to survive because of English medium schools’ spread. Parents generally tend to get admission to their wards in English schools which have attractive building and infrastructure. Therefore, it is becoming their first choice.

On condition of anonymity, a Mumbai based doctor, who was a product of Urdu medium school, told Muslimmirror.com that Urdu schools have lost their standard. Now quality education has become like a dream over in these schools, there is no discipline, no proper administration, no proper infrastructure, no proper drinking water and toilet facilities, no satisfactory safety measures while the management dispute is badly affecting teaching process. He said that his both children are studying in English medium school because he found everything perfectly all right in the school building and much dedication and hard work among these English teachers and management.

He further said today’s world is highly competitive ,we need to provide such a motivating and competitive environment to our children so that they can excel. However, it is unfortunately we don’t find such a competitive environment in Urdu schools because most of children are from weaker section society, he added.

Pune- based Imran Khan, who is Regional Manager in a Pvt. Company, said he feels proud to say that he had done his primary and high school education through Urdu medium .But I didn’t admit my children in the same medium School because about 80% Urdu teachers are only degree holders not qualified, he added.

Khan further says most of the teachers are not efficient enough to establish a rapport with their students, they don’t update their knowledge and are not technology friendly.

Asif Iqbal , Head Master, Social Urdu primary school, Solapur, said aided schools get only 5 percent of the total salary drawn by the staff as maintenance grant which is not at all enough to improve infrastructure and provide other adequate facilities. He said that management can’t afford all the expenses and therefore, parents and society should come forward for the purpose.

According to the draft submitted to the Maharashtra State Minority Commission by Prof Abdul Shaban in March 2014, there were 1,04,968 schools in Maharashtra. Out of these, about 4,900 are Urdu schools which constitute about 4.7% of the total schools in the state. It is important to note that Muslims constitute about 10.6% of the total population of state and the share of Urdu medium schools is not in that proportion. Among others, this shows that there is also a large section of Muslim population sending their children to non‐Urdu medium schools. Students of 175 low-enrolment Urdu schools in Maharashtra to be transferred to Marathi medium. ( Hindustan Times, Dec 21,)

Shafi Shaikh, Head Master of Anjuman-e -Khairul Islam Urdu High School(Vikhroli), admitted that Urdu schools are facing tough time. He said teachers are knocking the doors for students to save their schools from closure and secure their jobs. It is true that Muslim management run English schools are increasing everywhere because parents are losing faith in Urdu teachers. Shafi said we have also a large number of Urdu teachers whose children are studying in Urdu schools. If you don’t believe in our colleagues they how we can win the trust of the parents, he asked. If we will learn latest teaching techniques, ideas and work hard for the all around development of our students then conditions will change gradually, he said.

A teacher from local society in Mumbai told Muslimmirror.com that our educated class even our Urdu teachers don’t believe in municipal Urdu school’s education system and enroll their children in international or Islamic Convent schools.

My school maintains good strength but all the students are from poor and uneducated family background, he said.

Despite such pathetic conditions, some Urdu schools are doing remarkably well and attracting parents. Raees high school, Bhiwandi has got enrolled 100 more students this year. Head Master Ziya-Ur-Rahman Ansari said the school always keeps good rapport with all parents and involves the community and parents to experience other activities in school.

We conduct remedial classes for V class weak students regularly to improve their basic reading riding skills, added Ansari.

Madani Urdu high school Jogeshwari, Mumbai has in order to fulfill the expectations of parents and to improve the English language of its students appointed two special teachers to teach English communication and writing skills with the help of parents and management and alumni.

School asstt. head master Aamer Ansari said we have been carrying out this programme since last seven years. He said this is a must for survival of Urdu or any other vernacular school. It is necessary to upgrade themselves with let us technology new methodology, new subjects and system of pedagogy. We have direct competition with international schools due to globalization, privatisation and liberalization, it has become very necessary to maintain the high level of English, he said.

Learning in mother tongue is good but parents have developed mentality that English is the only language which supports to progress, that is why even working class people started sending their kids to convent schools and paying heavy fees, within only three years we have got enrollment of 433 students, told Rangrez Abid Jamal, Chairman of the Nav Jeevan English school, Solapur. He said we have very good infrastructure and good teachers who give their 100 percent.

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