By Surekha Kadapa-Bose
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Enrollment is booming at a women's college that serves Muslims in a hard-pressed textile neighborhood of Mumbai. One proud parent says the students are defying the low expectations that surround the community and women who wear abayas.
Many of the students have proven worthy of it.
Last year, for example, three G.M. Momin students earned the top three physics scores in the third-year exams given by Mumbai University.
Zulfa Fakih took the top score and Ansa Momin ranked second on the exam. Both lost their fathers when they were small children and were brought up by their mothers.
In 2008-2009, the college won second place in the Mumbai University's college rankings.
Alumni include Huma Ansari, a court judge, and Momin Tehzeeunisa and Tripathi Sangeeta, graduate researchers at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Several graduates have returned to the school to work as lecturers.
In addition to academic achievement, the school is also turning out high-performing athletes. Last year a tall, lanky student named Nazia Khan won first prize in the javelin throwing event at the district level sports meet. When asked about the length of her throw, Khan jokingly boasts: "They didn't have that long a tape and so they couldn't measure."
For Sheikh, the mother of the undergraduate science student, the school is disproving the low expectations surrounding young women in the struggling neighborhood.
"Outsiders have this misconception that our girls--always seen wearing an abaya--cannot measure up to the standards of excellence, partly also because Bhiwandi for several reasons has got a bad image. But by educating our girls we want to tell them that even with our trademark abaya we can do wonders in this world," she says.
ATTRIBUTION: This article is adapted from one that was released by the Women's Feature Service. For more articles on women's issues log on to: http://www.wfsnews.org.
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Surekha Kadapa-Bose is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist. She writes extensively on women's rights, the environment and films.
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