A government scholarship programme for minorities has been a sell-out, putting over 5 million students in schools and colleges in the last year alone, a record, official figures show.
Disadvantaged Muslims often flock to traditional madrassas because they are free. Officials of the minority affairs ministry say they had to stretch their scholarship targets for 2010-11 because of surging demand — an indication that poor Muslims are not averse to modern education if the means are available.
In 2010-11, over 500,000 students secured post-matric scholarships designed for higher education, exceeding the target by 100,000. More girls than boys qualified (51%).
The crucial leap, however, has come in the form of pre-matric scholarships, aimed at school enrolment. In 2010-11, 4.4 million went to school on these scholarships, while the target was 2 million. Of these, 48.15 % were girls.
“The figures belie cynicism about intention and delivery,” said minority affairs ministry Salman Khurshid.
The 2006 Sachar report had found Muslims make up only 4% of undergraduates and 25% do not attend school or drop out, largely for financial reasons.
To address this, the minority affairs ministry started three-tier scholarships, right from junior school up to doctorate-level. Another one million minority students are now pursuing either a technical or professional course under the merit-cum-means scholarship. Khurshid said the supply-demand situation would become stable in three years.
The minority affairs ministry started three-tier scholarships, right from junior school up to doctorate-level
In 2010-11, over 500,000 students secured post-matric scholarships exceeding the target
In 2010-11, 4.4 million went to school on these scholarships, while the target was two million student