In a decision that would have far-reaching consequences on the future of Muslims students of Assam, the BJP government has decided to shut down all the government-run Madrassas by next month.
Previously, the education minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, refused to allocate a single penny for the Madrassa of the state and said that all these institutions would be brought under the purview of the Board of Secondary Education.
The government of Assam wants to give modern education to every child of the state and for that, it is necessary to bring all types of institutions under a single regulatory structure.“We want to introduce modern learning like computers in these educational institutes. For doing this, we will have to change the existing structure,” he said during his reply to a cut motion on Supplementary Demands for Grants for Mid-Day Meal Scheme in the special session of the assembly in February this year.
“If someone is teaching religion using own money that is no problem, but if state funding is used to teach Quran, then we have to teach Gita, Bible also,” he added.
The Muslims of the country are entrapped in the vicious cycle due to Madrassa education. The centuries-old education imparted by Maulvis in Madrassa keeps the students away from modern scientific technology and knowledge which leads to unemployment, poverty and backwardness. Modern scientific education is the first step to break the vicious cycle of the life of Muslim students.
The Sachar Committee report on the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India that was tabled before the Parliament in 2006 had explicitly mentioned a number of impediments faced by the Muslims.
The report also mentioned that the Muslims were below the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in terms of backwardness. Their per-capita income was also the lowest among all communities. Moreover, their employment is also miserably low. In fact, it is below even 50 per cent of the total Muslims. Muslims have remained miserably backward and poor due to centuries-old religious education on which they spent their learning period.
“To mainstream Madrassa education, we are disbanding the Madrassa Education directorate and making it part of the Secondary Education directorate. The Madrassa Board too will be dissolved and the academic part will be handed over to the Board of Secondary Education,” said Sarma.
Assam is said to have a total of around 1,500 Madrassas, out of which 614 are government-funded, while 900 are privately run. With the shutting down of 600-odd government-funded Madrassas in the state, a drastic fall in the number of Islamic schools in Assam is expected, which in turn will lead to Muslim children availing normal and mainstream education that is truly in sync with the times we live in.
Around one-third of Assam’s population is Muslim. And the State, one-third of whose students are pushed into religious education of the medieval period, would remain backward. Therefore, the latest step by the Assam government would not only bring positive changes in the life of the Muslim community of the State but also modernize the economy of the State in the coming decades.
This decision would have a far-reaching impact in the transformation of the economy of Assam which is among the poorest states of the country. The neighbouring state of West Bengal, which keeps increasing the remuneration of Maulvis every passing year should learn from the Assam government about how to bring a real positive change in the life of a community.