The Sachar committee report have pointed out that Muslims are among the most economically, educationally and socially backward sections of Indian society. The Rajinder Sachar Committee was commissioned in 2005 by then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to prepare a report on the latest social, economic, and educational conditions of the Muslim community of India.
The salient findings of the Sachar committee are;
- The literacy rate among Muslims was 59.1% which was below the national average of 64.8%.
- Less than 4% Muslims are graduates or Diploma holders compared to about 7% of the population aged 20 years and above.
According to one report published in Times of India, Allahabad edition on June 20, 2016, RSS-run schools see 30% rise in number of Muslim students in the past two years. As per report 7000 Muslims students have enrolled in Sangh run schools in UP and majority of these students are enrolled in rural area schools.
Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Shahabuddin Salfi Firdausi once said, “Christian community does not have a single university in India although they have highest literacy rate after Jain community. Muslims own 5 universities but they are least literate community in India. Primary education plays very vital role in the development of any community and Christians followed this golden rule. They opened thousands of schools across India and built an educational empire. Muslims instead built universities and did not pay attention to primary schools which serves as feeder organizations.”
The above facts tell us very gloomy side of the story but there is shiny side as well. Muslims have started responding positively and momentum towards getting education is increasing. Although this momentum is picking up mostly in cities and rural part is still neglected but there are some people who are trying to bridge this gap and among such people Mohammad Owais stands out.
Mohammad Owais has done MA in Political Science from Aligarh Muslim University and qualified UPSC civil services in the batch of 1989. Presently he is serving in Indian Railway as an IRTS Officer in Delhi. Apart from working in Railways he has also worked under the ministry of External Affairs as a CEO of Haj Committee of India, Mumbai on deputation from 2006 – 2010. He took major initiatives during his tenure as a CEO,
- Persuaded the Ministry of External Affairs for establishment of the Commissions in connection to the Haj reforms. Under this scheme two commissions were formed one was under then Foreign Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and the other was under then Chairman Minority commission Mr. Hamid Ansari.
- Started Haj Magazine in 2007 in order to disseminate the information and educate the Haj pilgrims.
- Started coaching for UPSC Civil Services aspirants in Haj committee of India building, Mumbai.
- Brought total transparency in selection process of pilgrims by introducing district wise online Qurrah System.
In order to educate the rural mass who is deprived and living in backward areas, he initiated a public trust “Aman Foundation”, a registered non-governmental organization in 2009. Aman foundation is a group of dedicated, like minded individuals spread across the country to provide quality meaningful and affordable education to rural India. They are currently running a project “Schools of Rural Hope” to start a chain of schools across the depressed rural region by the name of Aman Academy with state-of-art amenities so that these regions will have access to quality and affordable education.
Keeping in mind the above said project, Aman foundation has started with its First school Aman Academy, Loam which is located in Darbhanga district of Bihar. The school is sprawled over 3 acre campus with strength of 900 students and affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
Aman Academy, Banka which is in 0.4 acre of land and building construction is in process, currently imparting education to 550 students. Aman Academy, Bastawara is planned on 2 acre of land near Darbhanga-Muzaffarpur border. Currently school is running in rented complex and has strength of 300 students. The land acquisition for the school is on the verge of completion.
Aman Foundation is planning to expand the rural schools in phased manner. Phase-1 expansion covers below regions.
- Mithilanchal (Bihar) – Darbhanga Rural (Loam), Simri-Bastawara Region (Simri Chowk), Alinagar (Garaul), Bisfi, Kanti
- Seemanchal (Bihar)
- Gopalganj (Bihar)
- Mewat (Haryana)
- Purvanchal (UP)
When asked about the challenges they face running schools in rural areas, Mohammad Owais says that Lack of quality teachers, inadequate literacy among parents and high quality text books affordability and availability are biggest challenges. Mohammad Owais has urged that people from all walks of society should come forward and take responsibility in building the schools in rural areas. Sustainability being the core essence, donations for capital expenditure or by sponsoring a child is most welcome, he added. Donations can be directly made to the Aman Foundation on their website www.amanfoundation.co.in or through cheques and all donations are covered under section 80G of IT Act.
We appreciate the noble work of the people such as Mohammad Owais who are like a bright star in the dark night. Such people keep us motivating to think beyond us and do something for the society.