Twelve-year-old Vineet Kumar, a devout Hindu, never misses his Tuesday visit to the Hanuman temple, but the rest of the week he spends at a madrasa (Islamic religious school) studying Urdu.
Vineet is among dozens of Hindu students in Allahabad attending such schools. In this Hindi heartland, madrasa are emerging as beacons of communal harmony.
“There is nothing surprising about Vineet’s knowledge of Urdu and neither is he seen as a curio in our madrasa. He is among 30 per cent of our strength of 448 students that consists of Hindu children,” said Shamim Hashmi, manager of Madrasa Jamia Majidia Wahidia on Leader Road.
The children are taught a range of subjects — from languages to science. “Our syllabus is as per the Uttar Pradesh Arabic and Persian Board,” said Hashmi.
What is remarkable is that the madrasa, which has classes from nursery to class XII, is co-educational.
Parents opt for madrasas as they feel the quality of education is better than in most schools. “The teachers in madrasas are more committed to work,” said Mattoo, a daily wager who uses only one name. His son studies at a madrasa.
“We don’t differentiate among students, teachers or staff on the basis of religion…. The courses have been revised to keep them in tune with the curriculum of various education boards,” said principal Maulana Shamsuzzaman Quadri of Majidia Wahidia madrasa.
He said all efforts were being made to ensure that madrasas didn’t lag behind conventional schools.