Income barrier blamed for low Muslim presence in higher education

Blaming income barrier for low presence of Muslims in higher education, a study has suggested modernisation and mainstreaming of madrassas because they have been found to play a positive role in helping students from the community attain higher education.

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Referring to the sample survey of 2007-08 which shows gross attendance ratio of Muslims at 8.7 per cent as opposed to 16.8 per cent in case of non-Muslims in higher education, the study stressed on mainstreaming madrassas on par with secondary schools.

"At the level of religious community there is premium attached with higher studies. The progressive role of madrassa/school education is accepted in helping to join higher education. We had thought this to be barrier, but to our surprise it turns out to be strength in various ways for participation in higher education," said the study conducted on 402 Muslim students enrolled in higher education.

The findings are expected to be discussed in details at the meeting of the National Monitoring Committee for Minorities’ Education here tomorrow, which would be chaired by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.

In the questionnaire, participating students’ perceptions were captured to understand the factors responsible for low participation of Muslims in higher education.

The findings broadly reflected income barriers as a deterrent for low presence in higher education. "Continuing traditional profession compelling to join the job market (Income barrier) merges as the main factor for low participation in higher education. On the other hand, expectation of social and economic return from higher education (opportunity for return) also emerges as the main motivating factor for the participation of Muslims in higher education," the study said.

It said as there is the income barrier in terms of following the family profession and compulsion to earn early, the students also seek an an opportunity to get high returns by investing in higher education.

"It is thus the interplay of two factors – cost subject to the income constraint and returns subject to the availability of finance - that to a great extent determines the participation of Muslims in higher education," the study said.

According to the national sample survey, low participation apart, higher percentage of Muslims end up doing diploma and certificate courses below graduate level.

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