Crossing 'knowledge bridge' on an Azamgarh river
They wanted their children to get good quality education
which they were bereft of. So people in a small village of Uttar
Pradesh funded a bridge to send their kids to study in a town
across the river. The number of students has been increasing in
Muslimpatti (Uttar Pradesh): It is a milestone in education for this remote village in Azamgarh district -- 90 percent of its girls are educated and the
number of girl students is over double that of boy students in
nearby schools and colleges.
Surrounded on three sides by the Tamsa river, the villagers of
Muslimpatti, 20 km from Azamgarh city and 250 km from state
capital Lucknow, established a girl's high school 10 years ago
with public donations to provide quality education to girls near
The village has a population of 7,000 consisting of 60 percent
Muslims and 40 percent Hindus. Over 50 percent men are out of the
village due to business, service and education.
"Earlier, it was a dream to educate our daughters, but now it is a
reality," Hasan Arif, who played a key role in establishing the
school, told IANS.
"Ninety percent girls are educated here. You can't find a single
home which doesn't have at least one educated woman, " the
72-year-old graduate in agriculture from Deen Dayal Upadhyay
University in Gorakhpur added.
The Muslimpatti Junior Niswan High School was established in 2000
with Rs.8 lakh collected through public donations. The nearest
schools were just five kilometres from the village but due to the
co-education system and safety fears, parents rarely sent their
Arif said, "Here girls are more interested in education. A school
bus does come, but sending them far was not safe."
There is no way to connect 60 villages, including Muslimpatti, to
state highway 34 and 30 and educational institutions. Villagers
walk across a bamboo bridge each year but it is hard to cross.
Villager Naeem Ahmad felt "the only option was to send them 12 km
away to Beenapara, an educational hub in Azamgarh, but it is hard
to cross the Tamsa river."
"Our legs used to shake while crossing the bridge. We had to stay
home in the rainy season due to the floodwater over the bridge,"
said Nazia Bano who completed her Class 10 from Beenapara.
Even now, there is no school for boys and they have to go through
the same bridge for education.
Several personalities like Gen Mirza Sultan Ahmad Beg, who was a
judicial member in the Uttar Pradesh Board of Revenue in 1948, and
Mirza Aslam Beg, ex-chief of the army staff of the Pakistan Army,
hailed from this village.
Arif wants to make the school, which is now till Class 10, grow up
to Class 12 but is facing several challenges like lack of
"We have laid the stone here. Let us see what happens. If our
daughters are educated, then at least they can teach their own
children," he added.
The teachers' salary is less than Rs.2,000 each per month. Mirza
Shabbir, manager of the school, said: "We don't have the earnings
to pay teachers much."
Salman Sultan, a resident of Muslimpatti who teaches chemistry and
also heads the computer science department in the Shibli National
Post Graduate College in Azamgarh, is hopeful about the future of
the village but wants a change in the attitude of people.
"I am hopeful for my village, which was once the most educated
village in Azamgarh district. However, this requires a change in
the lethargic and indifferent attitude of villagers," said Sultan.
(Abu Zafar can
be contacted at email@example.com)