The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry is ready to grant Madrassa certificates, equivalence to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).This recommendation has been made by the Sachar Committee, which was appointed by the HRD Ministry to review the status of minorities. This suggestion also finds mention in the Prime Minister’s 15-point program for minorities. As per the recommendation, students can also approach a Madrassa board in other states to get CBSE equivalence, if a state does not have a Madrassa board.
A committee appointed in 2007 proposed to recognize ‘Aalim’ degrees offered by Madrassas for admissions into the B.A. course. ‘Fazil’ degrees were also proposed to be recognized for admissions to post graduate programmmes.
This move by the government appears to be political one rather than a genuine one. Madrassas are the centers of Islamic learning.Although some Madrassas teach secular subjects like logic, language(Urdu and Persian), Islamic history, Calligraphy, Geography etc,in general Madrassas offer a religious based curriculum,focusing on the Quran and Islamic texts.Often a religious-based curriculum focuses on the Quran and Islamic texts. But, they do not train students in modern science, technology and value system. The major difference between Madrassas and the normal schools is that the education imparted in Madrassas are not enough to qualify the students to get employment in this modern world and survive. Recently,The Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education (UPBME) banned co-education in madarsas across the state, saying it is against the “spirit of Islam”.
The genesis of Madrassa in South Asia is attributable to the Delhi Sultanate. The original purpose of the Madrassa was to equip the youth for the administrative service of the Sultanate. Since the decline and eventual cessation of muslim rule in India, the graduates of Madrassa do not have job opportunities outside the umma. Apart from a handful of ones who continue their studies in departments of Islamics, Arabic, Persian or Urdu in some of the Modern Indian Universities. The more accomplished of these graduates from dual systems of education get absorbed in Universities, the rest remain content with either teaching in the fast mushrooming Madrassa (Government or independent) or becoming leaders (imams) of the equally fast growing mosques.
Two of the famous Islamic institutions are “Darul Uloom Deoband” and “Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama- Lucknow”. Darul Uloom has a comprehensive syllabus. It consists of 4 stages – primary, middle, high and specialization. In the primary syllabus students are taught Urdu, Persian, Hindi, Geography, Arabic Grammar and Composition. Nadwatul Ulama of Lucknow also brought about certain far-reaching changes in the traditional curriculum of the Qaumi Madrassas of India in response to the changed circumstances and needs of the time. The primary five years cover complete primary education as prescribed for general schools besides giving a sound religious base to its students.
But, there are many Madrassas which are not affiliated to them and which give more importance to Islamic subjects, in some cases completely ignoring secular subjects. There is an absence of a centralized agency to exercise control on all Madrassas. Hence some Madrassas follow their own designated syllabus which is a hindrance for smooth functioning and standardising of quality education. There is a lack of modern teaching methodology in about all big and small Madrassas. Madrassa educated people in general, find it difficult to get established and earn money and livelihood. In order to provide appropriate leadership and guidance, Madrassas must give particular stress to the learning of the English language, which at present is absent. In short, there is lack of ability in its alumni, to cope with the challenges of modern world.
Further, some experts also suggest that a small group of radicalized Madrassas, especially the ones located in Border areas promote extremist form of Islam.According to the task force, there are 905 Mosques and 439 Madrassas along Indo-Bangladesh border on the Indian side.A detailed Indian intelligence report issued some years ago claimed that some Madrassas were functioning as training grounds for anti-Indian elements. The report went on to suggest that muftis, maulvis and imams in these schools may have been replaced by what it calls “highly fanatic agents of ISI”, secretly working for the break- up of India. In May 2001, a ministerial group for the “reform of internal security” headed by the then Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani, released a 137-page report that recommended, among other measures, a close scrutiny of Madrassas.
Under such situations, the decision to grant CBSE equivalence to Madrassa certificates is very unwise and appears to be politically motivated step. Few claim that the present step is a welcome one, as it aims to enrich the Islamic heritage of India by mainstreaming Islamic studies. But, why Government has not thought about supporting and encouraging the Hindu studies? Why are there no such steps towards mainstreaming Vedic Patshalas and Sanskrit Patshalas? Why the traditional gurukula system has almost vanished?
Instead of vote-bank politics, government should concentrate on improving the education system of India. Government should make religion as one compulsory subject in Primary and High schools. Students can study any religion they want. By this, Hindu students can learn Hindu religion and culture and Muslim students can learn Islam along with Maths and Science. Curriculum may be designed such that, at primary level one can study one’s own religion and at High school level they can study comparative religions. Apart from that, Religious schools Hindu, Muslim and Christian can be instructed to have curriculum such that, along with detailed religious studies, modern subjects are included. In this direction, Modernization of Madrassas are necessary to bring them on par with secular schools. Only after this, the equivalent status to CBSE should be provided. Further, such a provision should be provided for Vedic and Sanskrit Patshalas too.
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