The status of Urdu schools diminishing in the state

Education Karnataka State

Urdu medium schools face existential challenges in Karnataka, as students are opting for different schooling languages other than Urdu. The number of Urdu schools has dropped in the state, the dropout rate is also high among primary students.

The Government Urdu High School in Hungund Taluk, a 20-year-old institution is in danger of closing down. No separate building is allotted for the school. They have to share a building with a  Kannada medium primary school instead.

Rama Latha, the school’s headmistress, said that the high school has a shortage of staff members and children. Due to this, it was shifted to different locations twice. Currently, they have to share their space with a primary Kannada medium school where they only get a few rooms, as no separate building is allotted for the school.

The teachers and headmistress of the school said they  might soon be shifted to some other Taluk. The government officials have told them that they will shift the school to a place where the number of students is higher.

They also pointed out that the dropout rate has increased over the years as children now opt for English medium schools. They were also given an English department but no new teacher was appointed.  

According to a report last year,  50 per cent of students in government Urdu schools drop out by the time they reach class 10. The new Karnataka government appointed four retired IAS officers and a KAS officer, along with ‘Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu’, an NGO, to survey the status of Urdu schools in Karnataka.

The Karnataka government also announced three years ago that Urdu schools up to class 10will get English as a compulsory subject.

President of Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu, Karnataka, Mohammed Obaidullah Sharief said “The state of Urdu schools is the same as any other local language school. The number of Urdu schools has been drastically coming down in the last few decades. Adding to the infrastructural and educational issues, the perception of the Muslim community has also played a major role in the decline.”

He said that the reasons for this dropout could be due to poor school infrastructure and apreconceived notion that Urdu schools lack quality education. The situation of Urdu schools in the northern districts of Karnataka where the language is more prevalent is very poor.

He said “ Most of the Urdu schools in Northern Karnataka do not have proper hygiene facilities or washrooms for girl students. As a result, the dropout rate among them is higher. Another issue is that the Muslim community largely still sees the education of girls as a burden, therefore early marriage becomes a reality.”

He said that his organization along with other notable organizations in Karnataka approached the previous Home Minister of Karnataka to incorporate some major reforms in Urdu schooling. “ We requested the government to make English compulsory till class 10 and make the curriculum more flexible. They agreed to our demands but not much implementation is done,” he said.

According to the report by the Karnataka government on the status of Urdu medium schools in the state, the number of Urdu schools in the state is declining. The number of Urdu schools has come down from approximately  5000 to 4000 in the last decade. It also listed out reasons for the decline and steps that could  be taken for the betterment of the schools.

It listed several reasons why most Muslims prefer English education over Urdu. It said that Muslims have begun preferring technical and professional courses for their kids and know that Urdu medium instruction serves little purpose.It says that Urdu schools’ social and economic profile has declined miserably amongthe middle class.

It made another point that many well-off families seek gulf jobs for boys and matrimonial alliances for girls from the US, Canada, Australia, and other Western countries. To do so they must equip their younger generation with professional degrees and gain proficiency in English.

Ameena, a student of Urdu High School Hungund is planning to shift to a private English medium school in her neighborhood. She says that she will get better opportunities and technical knowledge there. She said that there is a computer lab in the school but no computer teacher to teach them. “ The education given here is very basic since most classes have no teachers assigned to them, we learn very little.”