People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXII

No. 16

April 27, 2008

 



Neglect of Education in Old city of Hyderabad


Penumalli Madhu


HYDERABAD, which is on a rapid growth phase as the technological and knowledge hub has made its mark not only in the country but also globally. But, this remarkable city has another side to it. The other part of the city, which is more commonly referred to as the old city, tells a tale of exploitation and stands out in stark contrast to the new city. If the IT revolution had its ripple effect on other service sectors and improved employment opportunities for the educated youth, life has still not changed much for the residents of the old city.


While literacy and education are the key factors to break the shackles of poverty and oppression, the state machinery is unable to deliver the goods in the old city. Nothing has changed for the people. It is not that the government has not sanctioned schools to old city. In fact, old city has more number of government schools than the new city has and so is the number of school children.


Though the number of students is more, the education is in bad shape in the old city. Shockingly, for the last ten years, 75 percent of sanctioned posts for aided schools have not been filled till date. The sole reason for such a state of affairs is the pursuit of self-serving politics in the old city. Those enjoying power had never taken steps to provide permanent buildings to schools. For instance, two acres of land was acquired by Quli Qutubshahi Urban Development Authority in 1989 for constructing a school building at Bagh-e-Jahanara. The land was converted into plots and sold away by the local land grabbers. They applied for no objection certificate to construct houses in the said land which was rejected by the joint collector in 2006 but 18 houses were constructed in the said land. Roads were laid and subsequently electricity was given.


Responding to a public interest litigation petition filed by some individuals in the court in 2007, the High Court sought clarification from concerned authorities as to why they could not protect the said land and asked for an explanation. QUDA submitted that they could not get enough support from MCH and police officials to protect the said land. MCH and police also submitted their affidavits on similar lines and stated that the issue was sensitive and they could do nothing in the matter. The chief secretary was made to submit an affidavit in the High Court on December 7, 2007. He stated that the government is not interested in the land as 29 government schools are already functioning in the said area and there is no necessity to add any more schools in the area.


Despite the fact that all the 29 government schools in this area are located in rented buildings, the chief secretary had taken the line of these highly influential land grabbers. This is only one instance. One can find many more such instances in the old city and it is not difficult to imagine how influential the land grabbers in the old city are.


Even the buildings rented out for schools were purchased by the local self serving leaders and the running schools were forced to vacate. Another aspect is the shifting of government schools to buildings owned by vested interests in order to get higher rent for them. This is resulting in significant drop out of children. Now, two to nine schools are forced to run in a single building in old city. Poor accommodation for schools, shift system, number of schools in a single building have taken their toll on school education, diluted the academic standards and rendered these schools ineffective.


SHIFT SYSTEM

Of 157 schools that are being run in shift system, 110 of them are in old city, 42 schools in new city and five in cantonment. The timings in the shift schools are from 8 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. Given late arrival of the teachers and by the time classes are started, 35 minutes would have been lost. Normally each period is for 45 minutes in the morning session and 35 minutes in afternoon session but in shift system, all periods are of 35 minute duration, reducing the system to a farce.


LACK OF

TEACHERS

Of the 1,722 teacher posts vacant in government schools in Hyderabad, 990 of them are in old city alone. All the primary schools are run by one or two teachers. There are nine Urdu residential schools in the state and of them three are in the city but they have neither basic amenities nor subject teachers. Because of feudal outlook, lack of amenities and inspection, no outsider is willing to work in government schools in old city.


The uncertainty over GO 610 has further added to the chaos reflecting badly on teachers' future. The worried teachers are more involved with court cases and protecting their jobs than paying attention to teaching. Such teachers number about 170. As there are no proper avenues for promotion, secondary grade teachers were asked to teach higher class students leaving primary school education in a total mess.


SUVIDHA SCHEME

Under the Suvidha scheme, Rs 1,600 is paid for cleaning of toilets. Earlier each school was to be paid Rs 80 for cleaning by a scavenger. Under the Suvidha scheme, one person is employed to clean six schools twice in a week. One could very well imagine the unhygienic conditions in these schools in the absence of daily cleaning of toilets. The SSA funds are being spent without any purpose.



SSA FUNDS

The funds of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 meant for teachers’ learning material, school development, maintenance under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme were not sanctioned this year. The Rs 90,000 funds meant for newly upgraded schools for girl child education were also not released.


Because of all these factors, the conditions of government schools went from bad to worse in old city. If the same situation is allowed to continue, future generations would be condemned to a life of ignorance. Several schools like the one in Chaderghat have already closed down. This year so far 33 government schools were closed down in the city and this affected the old city more as there are no private schools with good reputation. As a result school going children were forced to wander in the streets with no access to education. While the city is making its mark as knowledge and IT city, a completely reverse trend is found in old city with very poor access to basic school education.


If the average drop out rate in city is 11.66 percent, it is 20 percent in old city. The majority among these drop-outs in old city are girls. With no toilet facilities and congested classrooms, the situation is not at all conducive for girls to study.



MUSLIM

STUDENTS

If one looks at the statistics of Muslim students who appeared for SSC exam in Urdu, English and Telugu media, Urdu medium students are lagging behind. The pass percentage of Urdu medium students is 50 percent as against 68.58 percent of English medium students and 65.13 percent of Telugu medium students.


Barring Hyderabad, in the rest of the state, 8,921 Urdu medium students appeared for SSC exam last year and 5,055 students had passed registering a pass percentage of 56.66 percent. In Hyderabad, out of 3,547 Urdu medium students who appeared for SSC, only 1,216 had passed registering a pass percentage of 34.28 percent only. Hyderabad district lagged way behind compared to the other districts.


Even a community wise analysis makes it clear that Muslim community is lagging behind in SSC pass percentage.


If Hindus secured 82.25 percent pass percentage, SCs accounted for 63.24 percent, BC- 71.57 percent, ST- 68.74 percent, Christians 81.29 percent, but Muslim students pass percentage stood at 64.14 percent. They were on par with students belonging to dalit community.


Community Wise Pass Percentage of SSC – 2006-07 Result


S.No.

Community

Appeared

Passed

Pass %

1.

Hindus

1,59,701

1,31,359

82.25

2.

Scheduled castes

1,72,954

1,09,376

63.24

3.

Backward Class

4,17,113

2,98,580

71.57

4.

Scheduled Tribes

52,346

35,984

68.74

5.

Muslims

70,900

45,472

64.14

6.

Christians

2,758

2,242

81.29

7.

Others

463

331

71.49

Source: District Education Office (DEO), Hyderabad



As per 2001 census, the literacy rate of new city is 86.4 percent. Cantonment area literacy rate is 76.1 percent and the old city literacy rate is only 75.3 percent.

As per 2001 census, the literacy rate of Muslims in cantonment is 26.6 percent, it is 30.2 percent in city but 26.4 percent in old city. On an average it is only 27.7 percent.


MUSLIMS LITERACY RATE

COMPARED TO DALITS

In Hyderabad city, as per 2001 census, literacy rate among dalits in cantonment is 30.4 percent (Muslims 26.6 percent), in new city, dalits 34.6 percent (Muslims 30.2 percent) and in the Old city, dalits 30.1 percent (Muslims 26.4 percent). While the literacy rate of dalits averaged at 31.7 percent, the Muslims’ average literacy rate is far below at 27.7 percent.


Even if one looks at it from a different angle, the children in old city are in no position to progress in any front given the deplorable condition of schools. While every citizen is aiming and dreaming for a better tomorrow in every part of the world, the children in old city are getting steeped in backwardness with every passing year. It is high time this gross injustice is opposed and stopped to bring in light of wisdom and knowledge into the lives of children of old city.


Muslim minorities are lagging even behind the weaker sections and backward classes. There is an urgent need to strive for their development with integrity and sincerity. It is not enough to address the lacunae plaguing the government schools in old city but it is equally important to extend same incentives and assistance which were extended to dalits, SC, ST students to improve their education prospects such as scholarships, hostel accommodation, payment of fee etc. A people's movement for educational development of Muslim minority students is the urgent need of the hour.


Let us expose the self-centered vested interests in the old city that utterly neglected education of Muslim students and protect and improve the government schools in the old city. Let us fight for permanent buildings and basic amenities in government schools in the old city, for filling up all the teachers and staff posts vacant and for increased government support to aided schools. Let us join hands to fight for educational development in old city