Assam to convert state-run madrasas, Sanskrit schools into regular schools
The decision, announced by Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will affect around 600 madrasas and 100 tols.Updated: Feb 13, 2020 03:10 IST
The Assam government on Wednesday said madrasas (Muslim religious law schools) and Sanskrit tols (ashrams that teach Sanskrit and religious scriptures) funded or run by government in the state would be converted into regular schools and will stop providing religious education because the government shouldn’t be doing that.
The decision, announced by Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will affect around 600 madrasas and 100 tols.
“The madrasas and tols will be converted to high and higher secondary schools. We have no objection to privately run madrasas and tols teaching religious scriptures,”said Sarma.
He added that teachers currently handling scriptures and other religious education in these state-funded or run institutions will continue to be employed till retirement but not teach the subjects. HT couldn’t immediately ascertain the number of such employees.
This is not the first time such an announcement has been made by Sarma. In May 2017, a year after Assam’s first BJP-led government came to power, he had stated the same thing.
Reacting to the announcement, president of the All Assam Sanskrit Tol Welfare Association, Mohesh Roy, said the move will lead to the “Sanskrit becoming extinct”.
“Study of Sanskrit as a language is slowly decreasing in the state. The government move will lead to the language becoming extinct, at least in Assam. I have no idea what prompted the government to announce this move as transforming Sanskrit ‘tols’ to regular schools would also have an impact on the teachers in these ‘tols’,” Roy said.
Mizazur Rahman Talukdar, a professor in the department of Arabic in Gauhati University, said that the subjects taught in madrasas were in compliance with the state education board.
“The ‘madrasa’ board is not a new thing, it was set up in 1934. The minister’s statement that funding religious studies is not a government duty doesn’t hold much water as there are institutions like Benares Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University where religious studies are imparted. The subjects taught till Class X in Assam’s government-aided ‘madrasas’ are very much secular in nature and in compliance with the state education board and Sarba Sikshya Abhiyan provisions,” Talukdar said.
“Selective targeting of a language and religious education is unfortunate,” Talukdar said.
“Study of Arabic can be beneficial for youth seeking jobs in Gulf countries. The government move will affect study of both Arabic literature and Islamic studies,”said Afsar Hannan, principal of SAB High Madrasa in Singimari of Kamrup (Rural) district.