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Assam to Close Down Govt-run Madrassas, Sanskrit Tols

Guwahati: All government-run madrassas and Sanskrit tols (schools) will be closed down by the Assam government and the notification to this effect will be issued in November, state Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday. The State Madrassa Education Board, Assam will be dissolved and all the government-run madrassas will be converted into high schools, he said.

New admissions will be held for the existing students as regular ones, he said. “The final-year students will be allowed to pass out but those taking admission in these schools in January next year will have to study as regular students,” he said.

The Sanskrit tols will be handed over to Kumar Bhaskarvarma Sanskrit University and these will be converted into centres of learning and research where Indian culture, civilisation and nationalism will be studied, Sarma said. The step has been taken by the government to ensure that students get a regular education under the Secondary Education Board of Assam (SEBA), he said.

The examinations conducted by the madrassas and the Sanskrit tols are different and their students do not appear for the matriculation examination conducted by the SEBA. “They are, however, given equivalency with those appearing in the board examinations, which is unfair on the regular students,” Sarma said.

The equal weightage for students passing out from madrassas, Sanskrit tols and the regular schools was introduced by the then Congress government in the state in the 1990s and has continued since then. Sarma said the examination system of madrassas is very different with an emphasis on religious studies and not on general subjects required for further higher professional education, he said.

Asked if the step was taken with an eye on the Assam Assembly elections due next year, Sarma, who is a senior BJP leader of the northeastern state, said, “How can this be an election issue when we are only closing the government madrassas and not the private ones.” He claimed that most of the students enrolled in the government madrasas want to become doctors and engineers and are not aware of the fact that these are not regular schools. Sarma cited a survey conducted by a Gauhati University professor who found that the parents of most of the students of the madrassas are not aware of the fact that their children are not taught the regular subjects but are imparted lessons mostly in theology.

“Is this not a violation of the human rights of these children who aspire to be in professions which are only possible when they acquire knowledge in certain subjects through the regular education system,” he said. Besides, most Islamic scholars are not in favour of madrassas being under the government, he claimed.

He also said the madrassas were set up in the pre- Independence era and are a legacy of the Muslim League. He clarified that the High madrassa examinations conducted by the board were different from that held by the government madrassas.

“In the High madrassa examinations, students appear for regular subjects and have only a paper in Arabic. There is no paper on theology,” he added. There are 610 government madrassas in Assam, for which the state government spends Rs 260 crore annually, Sarma said.

Source: News18