An All India Muslim Education Conference was held on 13 – 15 March 2020 at Kokata. It was 10th conference in the series. The theme of the conference was ‘Education Vision – 2030’. The conference was well attended by delegates and speakers from Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, UP, Delhi, Orissa etc. The big message coming out of the conference was the need to prepare our self for the all encompassing role going to be played by the cutting edge technology like Artificial intelligence, cloud computation, innovation in imparting knowledge to our younger generations. The educational institutions have to visualize the requirements of the society, governance and industry for next ten or twenty years and prepare future generations to meet these challenges. It will require innovations in teaching – learning processes, pedagogy, uses of emerging technologies, human and life skills and behavioral aptitudes and development of desired moral system. The educationally backward Muslim community can not afford to miss this opportunity if they want a respectable and just place among the civilised and developed communities of the world and to make its contribution for human development.
Dr Felix Raj VC , Vice chancellor of Xavier University was the key speaker in the concluding valedictory session. He, with an experience of teaching and managing, as Principal and Vice Chancellor, minority educational institution of about four decades, was the most competent person to conclude the three day deliberations.
Dr Felix Raj, before starting his address invoked the blessings of Almighty God by reciting a hymn and made the atmosphere very serene and humble. It immediately refreshed my memory to my daughter’s school days when before starting her education tour, the Nun came to the lorry and they all prayed to God for children’s safety. We are children of God and can achieve success in our endeavor only with His blessing and mercy. Aameen. It was the biggest starting message for me. I pray that thanks giving to Almighty God remains a guiding principle in our life.
In my opening remarks, I had suggested that Muslims, who are most educationally backward in India, are required to learn a lot from Christian managed educational institutions. And I am glade that Dr Felix Raj responded to it. Here I recall that my young friend Naim Qureshi from Jaipur, who is always very ambitious to promote education among Muslims always wished that we may, at least, have one Muslim managed good school in each city where members of all communities should aspire admission for their children. Why christian educational institutions are most sought after in the country. Why there is always a huge demand for admissions in Christian schools and colleges. Dr Felix Raj revealed the secret when he informed the gathering that Christian schools and colleges are sought after because they are extremely successful in following the policy of formulation of a child into a good human being. And again, how right was Dr Raj as a good human being is, undoubtedly, an asset for the family, society, corporation and the country. Who wouldn’t like his or her child to be a good human being and wanted by one and all. The two main characters inculcated by Christian managed educational institutions among their students are DISCIPLINE and VALUES. Now visualise Muslim minority managed schools and colleges and see that these two basic human qualities are far far away from us. Is it not high time to learn form Christians and devote our self to achieve discipline including hard work and basic values of honesty, sincerity, humility, commitment and conviction.
Dr Feix Raj further informed us that Christian leadership has consciously taken the decision and they follow it religiously to keep POLITICS out of their educational institutions. There is a complete separation of politics and education. We just don’t see any Christian educator active in the politics of the country and also we do not see politics with in their own management system. As a consequence, they justifiably do not encourage students to participate in politics during their educational pursuits. I won’t hesitate to add here that when Dr Zakir Hussain assumed the leadership of Jamia Millia Islamia as its Vice Chancellor in 1920s, the institution was vigorous and vibrant with political activism. All its teachers, students and other staff members were simultaneously full time freedom fighters under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Their politics was for a very high cause; still Zakir Hussain’s first instruction to them was that those who wanted to remain active into the politics should go ahead but leave the Jamia Millai Islamia, the educational institution — an institution which was as a matter of fact, born out of non cooperation movement against the foreign rule in India. Jamia is a Jamia today due to wise this insistence of Dr Zakir Hussaain who made a clear cut distinction and separation between education and politics. I wish our educational institutions today follow Dr Zakir Hussain. I need not elaborate on the damage caused by politics in our institutions of education and by participation of educational fraternity in the politics. Undoubtedly, it has seriously eroded the discipline, values and standards of education. The nation is, of course, the ultimate looser.
Xavier university of Kolkata, as informed by its VC Dr Felix Raj, has adopted five neighboring villages for their educational and social upliftment. According to the VC of Xavier, there must be a social dimension of the education. Educational institutions should be duty bound to transform its neighborhood community. Its existence should result in upliftment of neighborhood. In its endeavour to provide education to its targeted villages, Xavier has reached to them and opened education centers in their villages itself to not let them face the hardship of travelling long distances to obtain education. Here is another good use of education and that is social reform. Education leads to equality and justice.
In order to make our education relevant to modern corporate world, educational institutions should have a continuous and substantive interface with the industry. There have been all round concerns that majority of our graduate are not employable. The net result is that on the one hand we have jobs and on the other we have unemployment. Our syllabus and curriculum do not meet the rapidly ever changing requirement of the job market. The knowledge, skills, and behavioral values needed by the employers are not found in young and fresh graduates offering them self for specific jobs. This miss — match can be bridged by a structured and extensive interaction with the industrial and education sector at different levels.
Finally, the most important words of great practical wisdom from Dr Felix Raj was his insistence on the need to prepare a MUSLIM EDUCATION POLICY. He informed us that there is a Christian Education Policy. I must add here that Shrimoni Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee has prepared an educational plan for the Sikhs. We do not have a national Muslim Education Policy. There is lack of coordinated efforts and perhaps lots of overlapping resulting in use of scarce resources in not a very appropriate manner. Moreover, National Educational Policy (NEP) as available in public domain in the form of a draft and other inputs is quite damaging to multi – cultureism and pluralism of our country. In the words of Dr Felix, “NEP is sacrificing seculaism.” Therefore it is all the more important that minorities should have their own educational policies to take care of their specific educational needs. It will be in their own good that all minorities should come together and stand together.
Dr Felix Raj concluded by extending his hand of cooperation on behalf of his community and assured all possible assistance to Muslims and other educationally backward community.
I conclude with: THANK YOU DR FEIX RAJ.
Prof Khwaja Shahid, Former PVC, Moulana Azad National Urdu University