Assam frames guidelines to ‘secularise’ school education
Going ahead with its earlier proposal to stop imparting religious education with public money, the Assam government has decided to ‘secularise’ school education in the state.
On Sunday, the state cabinet had approved to repeal provisions of the Madrasa and Sanskrit Tols Act in the next assembly session due later this month, which will end religious education imparted in schools with government funds.
Giving details of the exercise, education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma informed on Monday that the move will impact 141 high ‘madrasas’, 542 ‘madrasas’ and 97 Sanskrit ‘tols’. The move won’t affect private ‘madrasas’, and Sanskrit ‘tols’.
“This is a historic step to secularise education system in the entire state. State-funding of ‘madrasas’ had started in Assam in 1934. We have been able to bring an end to that,” he said while addressing a press conference.
High ‘madrasas’ in Assam, which are under Board of Secondary Education Assam (SEBA), used to impart one subject on teachings of Koran apart from other regular subjects.
The government has decided to remove the terms ‘high madrasa’ from the names of these institutions and henceforth they will be known as high schools. The subject on Koran would also be dropped. The final exam on 2021 would be last high ‘madrasa’ exam.
Sarma informed the state government will dissolve the Assam Madrassa Board and restructure education imparted in the 542 institutions under it which included Arabic colleges, title ‘madrasas’, senior ‘madrasas’ and pre-senior ‘madrasas’.
“The madarassa board will stand dissolved from the date of publication of results for 2021-22. Administrative authority of the institutions under it will get transferred to the directorate of secondary education and the term ‘madrasa’ will disappear from the names of these institutions,” said Sarma.
“Courses on Islamic theology will cease to be imparted from April 1, 2021. Arabic colleges will get transformed to higher secondary schools and will come under purview of Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC). Pre-senior and senior ‘madrasas’ will start following State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) curriculum,” he added.
The minister said teachers who were earlier taking classes on Islamic theology will be given training so that they are able to take classes on other subjects.
“We will introduce legislation in the next assembly session later month to implement these changes. Other changes like renaming of ‘madrasas’ etc. will be done through notifications,” he said.
Besides overhauling ‘madrasas’, the cabinet also decided that the 97 Sanskrit ‘tols’ in the state, which were teaching Hindu scriptures and other subjects, would now cease to do that. The State Sanskrit Board, which were regulating these ‘tols’ would get dissolved.
From now these ‘tols’ will come under the Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University and would run diploma and degree courses on Indian history and culture.
“Assam will be the first state in the country which will have exclusive diploma and degree courses on Indian civilization. Besides history, students will study about the Vedas and about other religions as well,” said Sarma.
Regular classes in schools for all students from Jan 1
The minister informed that as announced earlier, all regular classes including those for students in kindergartens and nurseries would start from January 1 as the Covid-19 situation in Assam was under control at the moment.
“There will be complete reopening of schools and regular classes will take place with students and teachers wearing face masks and maintaining social distance,” Sarma said.
Though Assam had allowed resumption of offline classes from Class 7 and above earlier, the junior classes had not started in schools. Sarma informed that detailed SOPs will be announced within the next few days.
“At present we are getting 100-150 new cases on an average, daily. In Guwahati, there are 20-25 new cases every day and most of them are people visiting the state from outside. If a second wave of Covid-19 infections start later we will make necessary changes,” said Sarma.