GUWAHATI: With Madrassa reforms entering a decisive phase in the State, the Assam government is going to close down all government madrassas by converting them into general schools, besides bringing all private madrassas under its regulations from November.
However, the madrassas being run under the AHM (Assam High Madrassas) will continue to function as 90 per cent of their syllabi constitute the general subjects. And the government has no reason to meddle in that education system.
Talking to the media on Saturday, State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "The move has nothing to do with religion. All government madrassas in the State will be converted into general government schools. Now on, all fresh admissions will be in government general schools, not in madrassas. It's as simple as that.
"The prime objective of madrassas is to make students pass matriculation through the backdoor. Such madrassas aren't under the SEBA (Board of Secondary Education, Assam). They've their own board that holds examinations and declares results. The strange reality is that such madrassa-qualified candidates are treated as equivalent to the matriculates coming out from the SEBA. How justified it is!
"This system has been going on for years, paving the way for mushrooming of madrassas in the State. Now the State has 610 madrassas; and 300 others are waiting for provincialization. And the State government spends a whooping Rs 260 crore annually for these madrassas."
On the very essence of teaching in the madrassas, Sarma said, "The Madrassas impart theological teachings, but not modern subjects like science, mathematics and social sciences. We've conducted a survey, by employing an Islamic scholar, on the subjects being taught in madrassas. During the survey it has come to light that most of madrassa students responded to queries that they want to be doctors and engineers. They're in dark that only theological teaching can make them neither doctors nor engineers. Even many guardians want to make their wards doctors and engineers. It's high time such madrassas were converted into general schools.
"Many people say that the madrassas should continue. We've no objection to that, but that will be at their own expenditure. For that too, they'll have to register their institutions with the Education department. They'll have to spell out the students about the subjects to be taught. Modern subjects like Science, Mathematics, and English among others will have to be included in their curricula."
On the fate of Sanskrit tols, the Minister said, "Tols or chatuspathis will also be converted into 'Indian Culture Learning Centres' and brought under the 'Kumar Bhaskar Barma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University'."