Dehradun: The Uttarakhand government has planned a major crackdown on the madrasas in the state, warning them to affiliate with the state education board or face action.
Madrasas that receive government aid have been given an ultimatum of three months to get affiliated with the state education board, according to Uttarakhand minister Chandan Ram Das, who handles the social welfare, minority, transport and MSME portfolios.
Speaking to ThePrint, the minister said that if any of the 192 madrasas currently receiving government aid fails to comply with the state’s directive, it will be refused the aid and forced to shut down.
The state government, he added, will soon launch a probe into the quality of education being imparted in the “over 400 functioning madrasas in the state, their operations, and also look into how and why these madrasas were allowed to function without any recognition from the state education department”.
“We will also request the education minister to help madrasas get early affiliation if they apply for it,” Das added.
“All madrasas in Uttarakhand will be judged in line with the guidelines and parameters established by the state education department. Any madrasa found violating the norms will be taken to task,” said Das.
“I was surprised to learn during a meeting of minority welfare schemes that 192 madrasas are being financially aided by the government but none of them is affiliated to the state education board,” he added. “This is illegal.”
The chairman and deputy registrar of the state Madrasa Education Board (MEB), the regulatory body for institutions for Islamic learning, told ThePrint that there are 419 madrasas registered with the body in Uttarakhand, of which 147 receive government aid.
Madrasas in Uttarakhand are currently regulated by and registered with the MEB. However, the minister said that “they [madrasas] are supposed to seek recognition from the state board department to improve education quality and bring more transparency in their functioning”.
“How can a Class 5 student studying in an unaffiliated madrasa be admitted to Class 6 the next year in any other school if they don’t have equivalence with a non-madrasa institution?” said Das. “The government cannot allow the future of such children to be spoiled.”
Das said the idea behind the move “is mainly to improve the quality of education in these institutions and help students get admission in higher classes in the schools affiliated to the state government or any other board”. “It should not be seen from a political lens,” he added.
Uttarakhand MEB Chairman Bilal-ur Rehman welcomed the minister’s action against unregistered madrasas in the state, but said he will speak to Das and clarify the status of the madrasas’ affiliation and recognition to the minister.
“There wasn’t any legal binding to get madrasas affiliated to the state education board. The department for MEB in itself is a state government body constituted in 2011. MEB is recognised by the Council of Boards of School Education in India. I will take up the matter with the minister and clarify the doubt soon,” he said.
‘The aim of drive’
According to Das, the government’s drive is “aimed at finding out if the funds allocated to madrasas are being utilised properly, whether madrasa management committees are paying their teachers’ salaries, and if they are following the norms set by the education department”.
“There have been several complaints of madrasa committees not paying their teachers’ salaries. Also, a large number of dubious madrasas are running in the state without permission… What is the government to do with institutions not following the norms? We will not do their pooja (worship). They will definitely be shut down,” he said.
MEB Chairman Rehman acknowledged the issue of unregistered madrasas and supported Das’ call for a probe. “It will result in more transparency in the registered madrasas affiliated with the MEB and weed out unregistered ones,” Rehman said.
There are, he added, 419 registered madrasas in Uttarakhand that are recognised by the MEB and almost as many unregistered ones. “These madrasas need to be shut down as they are playing with the future of the minority community children,” Rehman said.
While Chandan Ram Das has issued the ultimatum to the madrasas availing of government aid, MEB records suggest the state administration failed to provide any funds to them between 2017 and 2021.
According to MEB officials, 147 madrasas were to get government aid under the centrally sponsored Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM), but they were not given any funds by the state or the Centre.
“This was the main reason why nearly 750 madrasa teachers of subjects like Hindi, English, maths and science were not paid their salaries during this period. Madrasas got the aid in 2022 after five years,” MEB Deputy Registrar Abdul Yamin said.
Earlier, Yamin added, 253 madrasas in Uttarakhand were getting government aid under the SPQEM, but this was reduced to 147 even though the MEB’s proposal for aid included 192 madrasas. Yamin said the minister has likely “assumed” that all 192 madrasas mentioned in the MEB’s budget proposal are receiving government aid.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)