‘Secular’ Bid: Assam Madrasas to be Converted into Regular Schools

While all madrasas would become regular institutions, Sanskrit tols would be converted to diploma centres. 

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Calling it a step in the direction of ‘secular’ education, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Assam has cleared a proposal that seeks to convert all state-run madrasahs and Sanskrit tols (schools) into general institutes, reports The Indian Express.

According to the report, Assam’s Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday, 14 December, said that the madrasa education system was introduced in 1934, when the state was being run by Muslim League government of Sir Syed Sadullah.

“Yesterday our state government in our Cabinet meeting has finally decided to reform the education system and make it secular. As a result all [state-run] madrasas will stop functioning and they will be converted into institutions of general education.”
Himanta Biswa Sarma, Education Minister, Assam

How many madrasas are there in Assam?

The are two broad types of madrasas in Assam:

  • Around 189 High and Higher Secondary madrasas in Assam operate under the Board of Secondary Education and the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council.
  • Another 542 Pre-senior, Senior and Arabic Colleges are run by the State Madrasa Education board.

What will happen to these madrasas?

According to an India Today report, the state Madrasa Board will be dissolved as soon as results for the 2021-22 academic year are declared. However, all students in the last two years of intermediate course, FM and MM courses, will be allowed to complete their syllabus and take final exams by 31 March 2022.

From 1 April 2021, no student will be allowed to take admission in any of the courses run by madrasas under the tutelage of the State Madrasa Board. Instead, students would now have to seek admission against courses of SCERT, SEBA and AHSEC.

What about high madrasas?

Pre-Senior Madrasa schools will be treated as primary and upper-primary schools and will have to follow the academic curriculum prescribed by SCERT, Assam. Similarly, all Senior and Title Madrasas will be considered High Schools and will no longer be known as High Madrasas.

“So far, they (High Madrasas) were providing 90 percent general education and 10 percent religious teaching. Now, the religious subject of 50 marks on Quran would be dropped,” The Print quoted Sarma as saying.

Arabic collages, on the other hand, will now become composite higher secondary schools and will follow the academic curriculum prescribed by SCERT, SEBA AND AHSEC.

What will happen to Sanskrit tols?

There are around 98 Sanskrit schools in the state, which will be converted to study centres and institutions offering diploma, degree courses. These will be conducted from 1 April 2021 by the Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University.

Moreover, those teaching theological courses in madrasas would would now be trained for general subjects. In order to bring about all these changes the government will introduce a bill in the state Assembly this month.

(With inputs from The Indian Express, India Today and The Print.)

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