This study draws upon fieldwork carried out periodically since the early 1980s in Bijnor district, in north-western UP to illuminate the national and state-level pictures provided by the Sachar and other reports, through a detailed analysis of Muslims' educational status at a local level.
The first portion of the paper locates the contemporary material in a longer timeframe. Taking 1857—and Syed Ahmad Khan's presence in Bijnor at the time—as the starting point, some of the subsequent developments that were crucial in setting the direction for educational provision in UP, and Bijnor in particular, in the post-1947 period are outlined.
After describing some general features of educational provision in UP, the focus is on primary schooling provision, secondary schooling and rising privatisation in Bijnor district, in order to ask (in the final section) if the madrasahs that have become increasingly popular amongst rural Muslims represent positive choices for religious education or least worst options.
Indian Journal of Secularism (2007) 11 (2) 1-35