Classrooms without roof, dusty carpets to sit, single room for three classes, no latrines, no drinking water- these are the conditions in which Muslim children of Telangana study in Government-managed Urdu schools of Hyderabad.

According to the Directoroate of School Education data, a total of 2,14,605 Muslim students study in various Central, State, Mandal Parishad, Municipal, Private-aided, and Private-unaided primary schools. These statistics don’t provide a separate figure for Muslim students studying in government Urdu schools.

This data is provided in the survey carried out by Urdu Academy in 2020-21, according to which there are 131 govt. Urdu primary schools in Hyderabad mainly located in old city area with total strength of 21,899 Muslim students. This shows nearly 10% of Muslim children in Hyderabad study in govt. Urdu primary schools. This 10% Muslim students are generally from below poverty line level, living in slum areas.

The survey of Urdu Academy throws a light on the depressing condition in which this 10% Muslim primary student population try to learn. According to this survey, of the total 21,899 students, 8,366 are boys and 13,533 are girls. And the condition is, out of these 131 govt. Urdu primary schools, 85 schools don’t have proper electricity, and 100 schools lack water drinking facility, 73 primary schools are in rented rooms, only 3339 benches to facilitate more than 21 thousand students, and only 293 black boards in 131 schools. This survey report also showed that there is an urgent requirement of at least 194 primary school teachers, and construction of 310 toilets in Urdu primary schools.

In the case of all Upper Primary and High Schools, Muslim students are 1,44,682 in which 66,321 were boys and 79,361 are girls. According to the Urdu Academy survey there are 15,225 Muslim students in govt. Urdu upper primary and high schools, in which 4,733 are boys and 10,492 are girls.

This statistics shows that nearly 15% of high school Muslim students study in govt. Urdu high schools. And this also displays that in govt. Urdu high schools Muslim girls’ ratio is higher than the ratio of Muslim boys.

For some this 10% or 15% percentage might not be great numbers, but still this numbers become special due to the fact that they represent the lowest of the low economic class, who are most backward in education within in the Muslim community. But the sorry state of affairs of govt. Urdu schools make quality education a distant dream for thousands of Muslim students.

Especially the primary schools which are considered as the foundation for proper education are not even fit to call them as schools. Govt. Urdu Primary School (GUPS) TegalaKunta consists of just two classrooms to accommodate 80 students. There is only principal and a teacher to manage class 1st to 5th. Principal Abdul Munaf informs that this two room ground floor school is rented, with no drinking water facility or toilet. According to him due to these problems dropout rate from his school is at an all-time high, 20% students have left the school in this year.

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Trying to manage a congested room with three classes, he complained that govt. is not supplying text books properly, last year they got books 4 months after the reopening of the schools, according to him this is the biggest reason why children are losing interest in their studies. G.U.P.S Mustafa Nagar is a prime example to show govt. concern towards Urdu primary schools. Located between residential houses with clothes hanging all around to dry, it is difficult for a first timer to believe that it is actually a primary school. Inside a residential house you will find, 85 children studying in two small rooms.

A middle-aged principal trying his best to keep a vigil on both the classrooms, because the lone teacher for 85 students was absent. G.U.P.S Mustafa Nagar runs from a two room rented space, and according to the Principal govt. had not paid rent for the past 4 years and he regularly get threats from the owner of the house that he will one day throw-out primary school from his house. G.U.P.S Achireddy Nagar looks like a typical old city lower middle class residential house, but when you enter, there are nearly 74 small children leaned over their slates and books with a Principal and a Vidya Volunteer ( a 10th or 12th passed temporary teacher) looking after them.

According to the principal, school registered 17 new admissions since the reopening in June, but they are facing a space crunch. When two rooms were found insufficient they started teaching junior students under a tree in the lawn. Space is not the only thing he complained, he said school doesn’t have drinking water facility and toilets are unfit to use by girls.

“Boys run away mid-class by asking permission to drink water and girls go off to their homes to use toilets and they will not return back till the next day” said the principal. He also said that all the children studying here are from illiterate and low economic background families and without any resources in hands it is getting difficult for them to keep them attentive in study sessions.

G.U.P.S Farooq Nagar is also a reflection on the status of Urdu medium schools. There is only a Principal and a teacher, no sanitation facility, and 90% of the students were without books. Three black-boards in the opposite directions in a single room shows what kind of difficulties children are going through to acquire the basic knowledge.

Principal of G.U.P.S Basharath Nagar Mrs. Rukhsana Begum seems happy teaching to nearly 40 children in two rooms along with a Vidya Volunteer, because for her this two room space is much better than the earlier teen shade building which was near collapse. She is the Principal in this school for nearly ten years. She said most of the children she thought for the past 10 years were all from poor background.

According to her Urdu is playing a crucial role in imparting education among poor and illiterate slum dwellers. “They find it easy and even encouraging in getting education in their mother tongue.” said Rukhsana Begum. One more important point she presents on the trend of poor Muslim students for joining Urdu schools is that they have no other option. They can’t afford education in a private school, and because in old city area there is hardly any govt. English medium school, so govt. Urdu schools becomes the only choice.

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Telangana government initiated one welcome step to make Urdu medium students capable of competing in the outer world of Urdu. For the primary Urdu school students from this year English language is being made compulsory. For Mohd Nayeem principal of G.U.P.S located in one of the largest slum area of Hyderabad, Biryanishah Thekri, it is a progressive move by the govt. but at the same time he was cynical not sure if govt. will be able to provide the required books, as they even failed in providing Urdu medium books.

He had his own set of problems to complain about, he along with one teacher and two Vidya Volunteers handles 127 children in 3 rooms. He said it is difficult task for him to attract children from this slum locality to his primary school. He said he cannot take any innovative activities because govt. doesn’t provide any funds, and the mid-day meals remain the sole attractor for the slum children to the school. Govt. Urdu High Schools (GUHS) in recent years saw sea of changes- infrastructure were developed at least when compared to govt. primary schools, and most crucially staff crunch in high schools are seen rarely.

GUHS Indira Nagar Tadban, GUHS Ranjan Colony Basharath Nagar are fine examples of recent positive developments of Urdu High Schools. GUHS Indira Nagar till three years back did not even had a roof, now it is a building with good facilities. Mrs. Padma Lakshmi its principal said they are getting full cooperation from the District Collector to develop the school. This year alone they received 30 admissions, and there is sufficient staff with eight teachers to handle five classes. She is now also planning to setup a computer lab in her school.

O. Yadagiri, Principal of GUHS Ranjan Colony claims when he took the administration of the school four years back it was in ruins. It was a rented building, he said he pursued the owner and the govt. to demolish it and bring up with new building with good infrastructure. He said his High School has 130 students and got 30 new admissions this year, this mean for him students are getting attracted towards his school. He said teachers should have determination that they are doing service to the poor and downtrodden and think those students as their responsibility then only Urdu schools can develop.

The magnitude of difference between high schools and primary schools can be seen in the govt. school building of Gulzar Nagar, Tadban. It is one of the biggest and recently constructed govt. schools building in the old city. In the ground floor five rooms contains Urdu primary schools and top two floors facilitates Urdu High School. P.N. Padvijay Kumari is the principal of the high school. According to her 402 students is currently studying in her school, and in this year alone she got 100 plus new admissions. She said there are 16 teachers and the passing percentage of the last year 10th standard was 84%. According to her it is the only full-fledged Government Urdu High School in whole old city area that is the reason why students from all parts of old city come here. She also holds the opinion that majority of the students in her school are from poor financial and educational background so for them getting education in their mother tongue is an easy task.

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Telangana schoolsOn the ground floor in the same building Mutahar Baig was sitting with a file of complains. His primary school has strength of 408 children, and just five rooms to accommodate them. He said there are only three teachers and a principal to control a crowd of 400 children, 10 teachers post is lying vacant in his school.

According to him earlier his school was a reputed one for good education, now with lack of teacher staff there is hardly any education going on in the school, and is getting difficult day by day to keep that interest for education alive in the hearts and minds of students.

Mohd. Masooduddin Ahmed, President of Urdu Teacher’s Federation said that there are more than 2000 vacant posts for Urdu teachers, but govt. is not filling those vacancies since 2007 thus creating huge staff crunch especially in the Urdu primary schools.

Farooq Tahir, Deputy General Secretary of Primary Teachers Association said that the major problem Urdu primary schools are facing is lack of govt. support, “Govt. is not even providing properly Urdu medium text books, this is enough to show that the government’s step-motherly attitude towards Urdu medium schools. Govt. is playing with the future of thousands of poor Muslim children.”

There are people who believe English schools are not being allowed to open in old city because of the threat it may cause to Urdu medium schools.

Mohd. Qutubuddin Masood a social activist from old city said he failed to understand why burden of protecting Urdu education should be on the shoulders of poor Muslim children. “First of all Urdu education is outdated it has not changed with the course of time, govt. is now at least introducing basic English but still it is lot more to be done here in this field.” Masood said. According to him poor Muslim students have become a scapegoat to save dying Urdu schools, “Those elites who shout loud slogans demanding protection of Urdu don’t send their children to Urdu medium schools, it is the downtrodden Muslim students who are made to uphold this responsibility.

On the one hand govt. is not willing to modernize Urdu and thus save it, on the other hand there are lovers of Urdu who want to save it and protect it on any cost, in between with no choice are Muslim students from humble background.” #KhabarLive #hydnews