Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) scholarship exams
Muslim students beat the soaring temperature in Maharashtra when they appear in a large number for the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) scholarship exams held at five different centres all across the state on May 23, 2010. Nearly half of those who appeared for the exam to qualify for a unique in its kind academic scholarship were girls.
“A total of 1760 students from all across the state appeared in today’s exam conducted at five centres in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Akola and Malegaon to qualify for the IRF Scholarship”, said renowned educationalist and in-charge of the exams Mubarak Kapdi.
“More than 50% of the total students came from the Muslim dominated rural areas in Maharashtra and nearly 40% of them were girls”, he added.
Established a year before, IRF run United Islamic Aid (UIA) is a brainchild of Mumbai based Dr. Zakir Naik – the founder of Peace TV, famous world over for his lectures on Islam and comparative religious studies. Dr. Naik’s aim is to build a strong community of professionals who are practicing Muslims believing strongly in moral and ethical values. United Islamic Aid (UIA) Scholarship is unique in its kind because contrary to other organisations, it takes care of the total fees of the selected students.
“Normally organisations offer partial amount of the total fees needed for a particular course, leaving the students to wander here and there for the remaining amount. Most of the time, the students fail to arrange the remaining amount and end in dropping out from further education”, Kapdi said while speaking to ummid.com.
“Hence”, he added, “United Islamic Aid (UIA) since its establishment in 2009 has made it a point that if needed it would increase its funds or reduce the number of students but would provide the complete fees to the selected students in the form of scholarship”, he said.
In 2009 last, 625 students from different parts of Maharashtra had appeared for the exams held at two centres in Mumbai and Pune.
Among them, 275 students were selected for the scholarship and United Islamic Aid (UIA) since then is paying their 100% fees. This year, following the huge response United Islamic Aid (UIA) had received, it decided to hold the exams at three more centres in Maharashtra besides Mumbai and Pune. The organisers expect the result to be announced within a month’s time.
Meanwhile, in Malegaon students were seen queuing for the bus specially arranged to ferry them to the exam centre located outside of the town at Jamia Mohammadia Mansoora since early morning. Despite soaring temperature, students accompanied by their parents were pouring in to the exam centre from Nashik, Jalgaon, Dhule and Nandurbar – the four districts in North Maharashtra where the Muslim minority is considered marginalised and neglected by the State as well as Central Government.
Interestingly, quite a few numbers of students who appeared for today’s exams included those who had applied in the past for the Government’s scholarships announced with much fanfare in the wake of Sachar Committee Report and failed either to receive the one, or when received could not renew it for the next year.
When ummid.com tried to speak to such students on the issue, surprising revelations came to the fore.
“The procedure for getting the government’s scholarships is difficult and expensive. Secondly, the officials are very harsh and non-cooperative. Third, we don’t have any mechanism of knowing the status of our applications. Lastly, even when some of our friends received scholarships for the first year, they could not renew for the next year as they did not have any knowledge of how to do it”, said a girl-student on the condition of anonymity even as others nodded in agreement.
The allegations coming at the time when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government in New Delhi is planning to celebrate one year of success in office would certainly give the Congress leadership an idea of how the Muslim community look at its ‘success’.