Assam: The state government will be introducing a bill to repeal the Assam Madrassas Education (provincialisation) Act of 1995, during the three day Winter session of the Assam Legislative assembly, which begins Monday, 28th December 2020.
The announcement was made by the State Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who said, “Today, I shall introduce a Bill to repeal provincialisation of Madrassa. Once the Bill is passed, the practice of running Madrassa by Assam govt will come to an end, a practice which was started by Muslim League govt in pre-Independence Assam,” as tweeted by ANI.
Today, I shall introduce a Bill to repeal provincialisation of Madrassa. Once the Bill is passed, the practice of running Madrassa by Assam govt will come to an end, a practice which was started by Muslim League govt in pre-Independence Assam: State Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma pic.twitter.com/jWr7lk9WXk
— ANI (@ANI) December 28, 2020
Around 614 government-aided Madrassas are currently present in the state. The plan is to convert them into high and higher secondary schools, with the theological components of the syllabi, and the word ‘madrassa’ dropped.
“All theological courses will be stopped with effect from, April 1, 2021. SEBA will conduct the last High-Madrassa exam in 2021,” Sarma had announced earlier this month.
This move is in line with the current BJP government’s plan to not spend money on ‘religious education.’
Provincialisation of Madrassa
The plan for this repeal has been announced at the beginning of the year by Sarma, who supports this to be a move to “secularise the Indian education system.”
The Provincialisation of Madrassa Act had come into effect in 1995- pre-independence. The Act guarantees State funding to ensure the smooth running of Madrassas.
‘Madrassa’ is a word taken from the Arabic language meaning educational institution. However, it tends to be vilified by many who claim it as a center for rigorous Islamic education where only the Qura’an is taught.
There are around 614 government-aided madrassas. They teach General education, along with basic theological education of the Qura’an.
With regard to the repeal, Sarma had said earlier this month, “We are putting an end to a practice of using government funds for Islamic theological studies since pre-independence days.”
Another Move To Demonize Muslims?
Although initially, the announcements were to stop the funding for both Madrassas and Sanskrit toIs (schools) in the state, the mention of Sanskrit toIs has slowly disappeared from the announcements.
The plan was to convert the Sanskrit toIs into “study centres, research centres and institutions to study the certificate/diploma/ degree courses to be started by Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University located in the state’s Nalbari district.”
The staff at these ToIs will be transferred to the nearest high schools to teach Sanskrit, or they will be employed at universities run by the state government.
Hafiz Ahmed, head of Char Chapori Sahitya Parishad, the largest literary body representing Muslims of Bengali origin, said to Scroll, “This is an utterly one-sided move under the façade of secularisation. What they have done is upgraded the Sanskrit tols by bringing them under a university, which will lead to better funding. The madrassas, on the other hand, have been disbanded.”
Many have accused the Assam BJP government of ruining the secularity of the state instead of maintaining it, as they so claim to do.