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Assam gives nod to shut down state-run madrasas, Sanskrit schools

  • Published at 11:59 am December 14th, 2020
India Education Covid-19
File photo: Students and their teacher wear protective face masks inside a classroom amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, in Guwahati on September 21, 2020 Reuters

Assam’s education minister had in October said that the government was shutting down the state-run madrasas and Sanskrit schools as it cannot allow teaching religious education with public money

The government of northeastern Indian state of Assam on Sunday approved a proposal to repeal provisions for madrasas and Sanskrit schools, Indian media reported citing a state cabinet note.

Legislation to this effect will be introduced in the winter session of the state Legislative Assembly will be held on December 28.

State’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary has confirmed the matter to the Press Trust India, Scroll.in reported.

“Existing laws related to madrasas and Sanskrit schools will be repealed. A bill will be introduced in the next session of the Assembly,” Patowary said.

Assam’s Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had in October said that the government was shutting down the state-run madrasas and tols (Sanskrit schools) as it cannot allow teaching religious education with public money.

Also Read - Assam govt to shut down state-run madrasas, Sanskrit schools’

Assam has 610 government-run madrasas, Sarma had said, according to The Indian Express. Similarly, there are about 1,000 recognized Sanskrit schools and nearly 100 are aided by government funds.

“So, we have decided to convert these institutes into seats for general education. Now, 600 madrasas will be closed [down],” the minister had said during The Indian Express’ Idea Exchange event in November.

“In these madrasas, we are going to impart modern education. This [is not to] save any finance. We will keep spending Rs300 crore because we are not going to take anybody out of service… The madrasa education is opposed by the students themselves.”

During a discussion on the budgetary allocation for the state education department, Sarma had said that the madrasas could not be provincialized as the state was adopting a modern education system. He added that people can run the religious institutions on their own if they want.

The government had in February decided to shut down the religious institutions and convert them into high schools and higher secondary schools within five months. The decision, however, had faced sharp criticism from Hindu and Muslim organizations.

The All Assam Minority Students’ Union had said the decision was in line with the government’s agenda of “harassing Muslims and denying them basic rights” as guaranteed in the Indian constitution.

“Madrasas don’t only teach Islamic scriptures and Arabic, they also teach subjects like any regular school,” it had said in a statement.

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