The State of Muslim Education in India: A Data-Driven Analysis

Logo of Education for All in IndiaArun C Mehta
Former Professor & HoD EMIS Department
NIEPA, New Delhi


Education is vital for promoting equality and social justice. By examining the educational experiences of Muslims, we can ensure that all students, regardless of their religious background, have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Muslims face several challenges in India, including poverty and limited access to quality education. Analyzing the education of Muslims allows us to understand these obstacles better and develop effective policies and programs to address them. We can also learn from the successes and failures of different educational initiatives, ultimately improving the quality of education for all students, irrespective of their religion. This endeavor contributes to building a more just and equitable society for everyone.

Muslim GER at Higher Education Level, 2016-17 to 2021-22

Muslim GER at Higher Education Level, 2016-17 to 2021-22

Muslim Higher Education Enrolment by Gender: 2016-17 to 2020-21

Muslim Higher Education Enrolment by Gender: 2016-17 to 2020-21

This article delves into available data concerning school and higher education in India, explicitly focusing on Muslims. It computes various indicators falling under the different components of Universal School Education, which were not previously considered for the Muslim population. The study highlights the limitations of data on the education of Muslims in India, including indicators such as gross enrollment ratio, dropout and retention rates, gender parity index, and the share of Muslims in total enrollment at different levels of education. In addition, Muslim enrolment, GPI, and GER at higher education levels are also analyzed. The findings provide valuable insights into Muslim education in India.

Additionally, the article analyzes the share and patterns of the Muslim population based on census data from 1951 to 2011. The share of Muslims in the total population has remained relatively stable over the years, accounting for 14.23 percent in 2011. However, a lack of data on the Muslim child population hinders the computation of enrollment-based indicators for Muslim students at various education levels.

Muslim GER at Upper Primary Level, 2018-19 to 2021-22Muslim GER at Upper Primary Level, 2018-19 to 2021-22

The main challenge in studying Muslim education is the limited availability of relevant data. Efforts have been recommended to establish an autonomous National Data Bank (NDB) to address this issue, but it is yet to become fully operational. The most comprehensive data on Muslim education comes from the Unified District Information System and the All India Survey on Higher Education. However, some crucial indicators, such as enrollment ratio, flow rates, dropout, and retention rates, are still unavailable in these sources.

Moreover, there is no data source in India collecting information on Muslim enrollment by age, making it impossible to calculate essential indicators like net enrollment ratio, adjusted NER, and age-specific enrollment ratios for Muslims. This dearth of data hampers the development of effective policies and programs to improve the educational attainment of Muslims. The Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Education must collaborate with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to include projections of the Muslim population in the next Expert Committee on Population Projections. Extending the coverage of UDISEPlus to collect Muslim enrollment by age and relevant enrollment ratios, transition, and dropout rates in future publications based on UDISEPlus & AISHE data would also aid in addressing this data gap.

Regarding school education, the data shows progress in the enrollment of Muslim students, particularly girls, at primary, upper primary, and elementary levels over the past four years. However, there remains a gender gap that requires attention to ensure equal opportunities for Muslim boys and girls in schools. Concerted efforts are needed to improve access to and retention of Muslim girls in schools, considering socio-economic factors, cultural beliefs, and other barriers.

In higher education, there has been some improvement in Muslim enrollment, but it still falls below the national average, with variations across different states. Financial constraints, limited access to quality education, and socio-cultural influences contribute to the lower enrollment ratio. However, positive trends, such as increasing gender parity in Muslim enrollment, indicate some progress. Nevertheless, more work is required to provide all Muslim students with opportunities to pursue higher education.

In conclusion, challenges persist despite improving Muslim students’ education at school and higher levels. Addressing these challenges requires tackling issues like poverty, improving access to quality schools, providing financial assistance to Muslim families, and raising awareness about the importance of education within Muslim communities. By taking these steps, we can create a more just and equitable society where all students, regardless of religion, can achieve their full potential.

Muslims Gross Enrolment Ratio at Higher Education Level (2020-21)

Muslim Education in India 2023

Size of Muslim Population in India: 1951 to 2011 (2023)