Posted on Monday, August 6, 2018
A pilot project by the Ministry of Minority affairs titled ‘Bridge course’ aimed to bring the school dropouts and madrasa students to mainstream education has bore fruits. The course started on an experimental basis has trained around 500 students, who are ready to enrol in regular college for undergraduate courses.
Bridge course, started in 2015, was aimed to help the school dropouts and madrasa students pass their class XII. For the last three years, this course was being run on government-aid, and now the plans are to extend it for three more years. Till now, the course was offered in Humanities and Science stream but the government now plans to include the Commerce stream as well.
The 9-month course started in Jamia Millia Islamia Senior Secondary School School, New Delhi, gives complete fee waiver, free books, school supplies etc to the students. It also offers a monthly scholarship worth Rs 4000 to each student on successful completion of course.
“The Bridge course has a composite curriculum including subjects from both class XI and XII. In the first year, we offered only Humanities but later included Science stream as well. English, however, is compulsory for all students regardless of the stream,” said Muzaffar Hassan, principal, JMI School.
Teachers from the Jamia school teach these students after regular school hours. “This course runs every afternoon from Monday-Saturday without any summer or winter breaks. The teachers are paid Rs 600 per lecture,” adds Hassan.
Anyone between 18-35 years of age, either a dropout or has studied in a madrasa, can apply for this course. Despite free education, there were limited takers for Bridge course initially. The teachers went door-to-door to persuade the students to avail the benefit. “We were allotted Rs 55 lakh in the first year to train 100 students, but enrolling school dropouts was a challenge. Since most dropouts came from economically backward families, they preferred working with their parents to support them economically. Another major hurdle was to convince their parents,” says Hassan.
However, after the first year, the institute had to expand its capacity to accommodate more students. By the third year, which was the final leg of the pilot project, the number of students doubled up to 200. “We also had saved our funds and the government allowed us to use those to enrol 60 more students. In 2018, we had 260 students in the batch. The demand for the course is growing and we get calls throughout the day, we have sought an extension of three more years from the ministry,” he says.
“The course was most useful for the madrasa students, who faced problems in enrolling in regular colleges for higher education. Now we have many of Bridge Course alumni studying in the central universities,” adds the principal.
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