Innovative scheme offers hope to Muslim girls

July 3rd, 2008 - 5:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, July 3 (IANS) Shagufta Khatoon and Nagma Haque, both in their early 20s and school dropouts from poor Muslim families, see a new ray of hope in ‘Hunar’ (skill), an innovative scheme for providing vocational training to Muslim girls in Bihar. The scheme was launched in the state Wednesday. In the first phase about 12,000 Muslim girl students will get vocational training, while the second phase will see over 50,000 students benefiting from it.

“We are happy that we will be provided free skill training to become self-dependent. I had not completed school education due to poverty, now at least I will learn some skill to earn a livelihood,” said Shagufta with her head covered by a black coloured cloth.

Shagufta, who hails from a village in Nalanda, which is the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, said it will help Muslim girls from poor families.

Nagma said it was a major step towards empowerment of Muslim girls. “It was a right step to provide skills training to us. Many of us who were not educated due to one or other reason will get an opportunity to earn a livelihood with self respect,” said Nagma, a native of a village in neighbouring Jehanabad district.

Anjum Bano, another Muslim girl, a resident of Patna, said that only time will tell whether the scheme reaches the beneficiaries or not. “I wish and pray for the success of the scheme as it promises to bring happiness in the life of thousands of poor Muslim girls,” she said.

Most of the Muslim girls, who gathered here Wednesday when Nitish Kumar launched the scheme, asked the top officials to keep a close watch on its implementation at the ground level.

“The scheme will be revolutionary if implemented in a proper way,” said Anisur Rahman Qausmi, a spokesperson of Imarate Sharia, an influential Muslim body here.

Irshadul Haque, an activist working for Dalit Muslims, said the government should take care to identify more girls from socially marginalised sections among the Muslim community for the scheme. “The Muslim girls from poorest of the poor families deserve ‘Hunar’ scheme ore than any one from a well-off background,” he said.

Kumar claimed that Bihar is the first state in the country to launch Hunar scheme to help Muslim girls.

The scheme, which is being launched jointly by the central government and the state government, has been devised by the National Open School in collaboration with the Bihar Education Project Council.

The girls will be trained in seven courses including jute production, cutting and tailoring, early childhood care and education and beauty culture.

The scheme was launched here a day ahead of its formal launch at New Delhi Thursday by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh.

Kumar said his government was the first in the country to provide 50 percent reservation to women in the local civic bodies, including gram panchayats, and recruitment of over 100,000 primary school teachers.

According to the 1991 census, the Muslim population in Bihar was over 10 million, which is 15.7 percent of the state’s population of 83 million.

Despite several schemes for minorities, only 36 percent of the Muslims in Bihar are literate. However, Muslim women in Bihar have a lower literacy rate of 31.5 percent.

There are over 4,000 madrassas in the state.

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