Under no circumstances should religious preachings become a factor in the temple of education. However, due to years of minority appeasement, priority has been given to the well being of religious contractors over education and the Assam government is hell-bent on changing this. The Assam government has tabled a bill which seeks to abolish state-run madrassas and convert them into regular schools
The bill if passed will result in all government-sponsored madrasas becoming inoperative from 1 April 2021 was unsurprisingly objected upon by a United Opposition with AIUDF legislators staging a walk out.
”We’ve introduced a Bill whereby all Madrassas will be converted into institutes of general education and no madrassa will be established by govt in future. We’re happy to introduce this Bill to bring truly secular curriculum in the education system,” said Assam Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Speaking in the Assembly, Sarma said, “Madrassa education has been going on since pre-Independence era… What if someone goes to court today and asks if the government is spending Rs 600 crore for teaching the Quran, why is it not spending the same in teaching the Bible…(or) the Bhagwad Gita?”
He also clarified that the bill doesn’t intend to stop spiritual education of any religion and only seeks to “modernise those educational institutions.”
Sarma claimed that the madrassas currently teach a preliminary course of the Holy Quran and Arabic education with the latter continuing even after they are converted to regular schools. “That means we are only abolishing the education of the Quran,” he said.
Hence, while Arabic will continue to be taught as a language, from pre-senior, senior and title madrasas and Arabic colleges, subjects such as the Holy Quran, Islamic Studies, Fiqh, Hadith, Usul Al Fiqh, Tafsir, Hadith and Fariad will be removed.
While the staff will continue to get salaries, the account head will change from ‘Madrasa education’ to ‘Secondary education’.
In October this year, Sarma gave clear indications that government-sponsored Sanskrit schools and madrasas would soon be defunct. The intention behind this was clear that the Assam government would not promote religion at its own expense.
This is a welcome step taken by the Assam government and not falling in the trap of minority appeasement by attempting to be politically correct and decoupling religion from education. Proper education is vital for a country’s progress and religious preaching shouldn’t be a part of the curriculum, no matter what.