Faisal Nazir,pursuing Arabic Hons at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI),used to feel intimidated by fellow students who came from convent and public schools. He was shy,lacked confidence and was not sure how to put his theoretical knowledge into practice. Having studied only Islamic theology and religious law at the madrasa in Deoband,Saharanpur,Faisal had very little knowledge of English when he came to JMI. Halfway through his course he came across an announcement from the Department of English about the Communicative English Programme (CEP).
Even as the countrys premier medical institute,AIIMS,grapples with the issue of bringing reserved category students into the mainstream,Faisal was among the 200 who passed the CEP at Jamia recently.
According to the administration,CEP was started to empower and integrate the students to address the inadequacies that students confront on a day-to-day basis in classroom engagements and how they fail to compete with the best.
I was totally lost when it came to speaking English,but now with the help of my teachers I feel much more confident, says Faisal. His father works as a tailor in Mumbai while his mother is a housewife. Faisal says he had no contact with the language till he came to JMI.
JMI launched the CEP in August last year to develop communication skills of students from different parts of the country. According to the coordinator of the programme,Mukesh Ranjan,students coming from socially and economically marginalised sections of society have had no formal brush with the English language and,hence,often get treated as English outcasts. We have proven that it is possible to bring students from these sections into the mainstream, he says.
The madrasa offers a two-year course after the elementary course,in which they teach everything in English,but this is optional. So most students do not opt for this as learning English seems like an uphill task, Faisal said.