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Urdu schools face extinction

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 01:36 IST

URDU FACES existential crisis in Bhopal, once a glorious seat of literature of this beautiful language. An utterly skewed ratio speaks for plight of the language- five functional schools for five lakh Urdu speaking population! In sharp contrast, Khandwa has 55 Urdu medium schools including high school and higher secondary levels.

Most of the Urdu-medium Government schools in Bhopal function merely on papers. Government School, Ahmedabad Palace, on paper is an Urdu school. But a visit to the school reveals that Urdu is not the medium of instruction. A few teachers are putting in individual efforts to teach Urdu as a subject in extra period after school hours.

Apart from the fact that new schools are not opened, the total absence of Urdu medium at the High School and Intermediate level leave students in the lurch after primary or middle-level. This is more surprising as Bhopal district that has nearly 25 per cent Muslim population is the only district in Central India that has such a high population of Muslims.

Even neighbouring States like Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra have no district with such a high concentration of Muslims.

”When teachers not knowing Urdu are posted in Urdu schools then there is no question of students learning anything at all and the fate of a school is sealed at that moment,” says a teacher in Government High School Qazi Camp, which is one of the oldest surviving Urdu medium schools in the Capital.”

Is the department unaware that non-Urdu knowing teacher should not be posted in these schools but this is a routine practice,” she further says on conditions of anonymity. She cites the example of another Urdu school that was opened just before elections but the appointment of a non-Urdu knowing principal brought its doom.”

The Rafiqia Urdu School had Urdu medium up till High School but could not run due to lack of teachers. Parents want their children to go to the schools rather than madarsas but the department appears disinterested in running the schools let alone improving their standards or upgrading them,” she added.

As per official records, Bhopal has nine Urdu-medium schools but barely few of them impart education through Urdu medium. “If there is a primary school in Urdu then a middle or higher secondary school should be opened nearby so that the students after finishing V standard, can study further but there is no such mechanism,” says Majid Imtiaz, who is in-charge of primary section in a Government Urdu medium school near Koh-e-Fiza. 

Apart from the lack of schools, the existing schools do not have adequate number of teachers either and the difficulty in procuring books puts off students.

Littérateur Afaq Ahmed says around 25 years back, 17 schools were opened but students faced a problem when after intermediate they had to change the medium. “Urdu must be taught as third language in all schools but as far as Urdu medium is concerned, a national debate is needed,” he adds.

According to Directorate of Public Instructions Madhya Pradesh has 271 Urdu medium schools with Khandwa (including the newly carved Burhanpur) leading the list with 55 schools, Ratlam 38, Indore 33, Gwalior 25 and Ujjain 25 schools.

‘Interest in Urdu limited to poetry’
Narottam Mishra (Minister for School Education ): We are going to organise a programme with the assistance of Urdu Academy soon to take up the issue. Suggestions will be invited and the issues will be deliberated upon.  

Arif Aqueel (Congress MLA from Bhopal North): I have taken up the issue with the Government and at various other fora but no body seems interested in improving the state of affairs.

They are interested in Urdu only as far as it is listening to poetry and ‘ghazals’. When it comes to Urdu education, the response is nil. Urdu Academy is also not doing its work.