CHENNAI: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Saturday called for an increased focus on education and skill development among Muslims, vital for the economic upliftment of the community across the country.
Speaking at the inauguration of the United Economic Forum’s first Trade Summit, he pointed out that one of the primary reasons why the Muslim community has not managed to progress economically was its educational backwardness.
“There is no doubt that educational backwardness is the main reason why we have not been able to progress economically,” he told the large gathering of businessmen from the community. “I have always believed that education is the most critical and key factor to uplift our community,” he said.
Sayeed began with detailing the socio-economic decline of the Muslim community from its glorious days of the pre-colonial era. “It started as early as the 18th century,” he said adding that while the community had seen pioneers and visionaries of the likes of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad it however, had not managed to do as much as they should have.
Those two stalwarts themselves were vocal advocates of education for development, he said and added that Sir Syed had started the Mohammaden Anglo-Oriental College, now known as Aligarh Muslim University.
The Mufti also addressed the argument often thrown up about the need for religious education and secular modern outlook in today’s India. “I do not see any stark contradiction between the need for religious education and the importance of having a secular modern outlook in today’s world. I myself studied in a madrassa before moving for graduation in law from AMU,” he said.
Citing data from the Sachar Committee report, he said the socio-economic conditions of Muslims in many areas were lower than the status of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
“The committee had recommended the setting up of high quality government schools, including exclusive ones for girls, in all areas of Muslim concentration. Imparting skill training and making madrassa-educated persons eligible for formal technical education besides providing financial support to them is also vital,” he said.