The National Commission for Minority Education Institutions (NCMEI) has called for a meeting of Muslim ulemas on December 3 in the Capital to discuss a concept paper on Central Madrassa Board.
The need for modernisation of madrassas was also stressed by HRD Minister Arjun Singh on Monday but the meeting is the first concrete steps towards a Central Madarsa Board.
However, Singh clarified on the government policy on Muslim education when he said, "We don't want to force anything on them. Discussions for building consensus are going on."
Working on similar lines, NCMEI has called representatives of various state madrassa boards, religious groups and maulanas for the conference.
"For the first time, a concept paper having best practices of various madrassa boards has been prepared. We are suggesting a board on the lines of Central Board of Secondary Education," a senior commission official said.
Hope for success of a madrassa board comes from West Bengal where passouts from religious schools affiliated to the state Madrassa Board have cleared IIT-JEE exams. But, then, some other state madrassa boards have not done well.
However, the government is looking at a bigger picture when it comes to lack of education among Muslims, as pointed out by Sachar Panel.
"Muslim education is not restricted to madrassas," Singh admitted. Stressing on benefits of conventional education, Arjun Singh said the ministry had taken several steps, including opening of new primary level schools in Muslim-dominated areas under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.
In case of higher education, Singh admitted that Muslims were facing some problems in opening new institutes, but the commission has been asked to look into the complaints. "We are also bringing OBC reservation under which Muslims castes are covered," he said.
Years of neglect cannot change in a few days, Singh observed, when asked to respond to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s call for fair share to Muslims.
"Access to education has been accelerated in Muslim, SC,ST and OBC dominated areas. Change will be visible in some time," he said.