By Mumtaz Alam
NEW DELHI — Around 35.7 million students are enrolled in higher education in India today – 19.0 million boys and 16.7 million girls. Only 1.7 million of them or 4.9% come from the Muslim community, reveals the latest government report on higher education in the country. The Muslims constitute 14.2% of the country’s total population.
The situation gets grimmer when Muslim enrollment in higher education is compared with that of other socio-economically backward communities like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Of the 35.7 million total higher education enrollment, SC student enrollment is 14.3% and 5.2% comes from the ST category. Some 34.4% of the total students in higher education belong to OBC category. The SC population in the country is 16.6%, STs are 8.6% and OBCs account for around 42% of the population. All these three categories avail reservation in education and job.
In terms of numbers, as per the AISHE 2016-2017 survey, which had been held between December 2016 and September 2017, some 3,57,05,905 students are enrolled in higher education with 53.2% male and rest 46.8% female. Of them, Muslims are 17,39,218 with 52.68% male and 47.31% female students.
But what should be far more concerning for the Muslim community is their pace of growth in higher education enrollment in comparison with other communities.
In the last five years, the Muslim enrollment in higher education has made a progress of just 0.75% – from 4.15% in the year 2012-13 to 4.90% in the 2016-17. In the same period, SC enrollment grew by 1.5% (from 12.8% to 14.3%) and ST 0.8% but OBC made a huge gain of 3.2% (from 31.2% in 2012-13 to 34.4% in 2016-17).
The AISHE 2016-2017 survey is based on data provided by 835 universities, 36852 colleges and 8453 stand-alone institutions (Diploma Level Technical Institutes, Teacher Training Institutes, Nursing, PGDM and Institutes directly under the control of various Central Ministries).
The grim picture of poor Muslim representation continues to faculties at higher education institutions.
Teachers belonging to General category are more than half, that is 58.2%, followed by OBC with 31.3%. While SCs are 8.3%, merely 4.9% teachers come from the Muslim minority group. But 8.9% teachers are from other minorities. With 2.2%, STs are on the bottom.
In the year 2006, the Sachar Committee, a panel set up by the central government, had recommended 10% reservation for Muslims in education and government job. More than one decade later, the report is still gathering dust.