Guwahati: The Assam Assembly Wednesday passed a bill to convert government-run madrasas to regular schools under the state board amid protests from opposition parties.
The Assam Madrassa Teachers’ Association (AMTA) has opposed the decision and intends to challenge the legislation in court.
“We have opposed the Bill and we will submit a memorandum to the Governor, Prime Minister and President of India on 5 January. We will also register a case in Gauhati High Court. If need be, we will go to the Supreme Court as well,” AMTA General Secretary Amirul Islam told ThePrint.
The new Act, which will come into effect from 1 April, seeks to abolish the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.
“The Bill is for government-run madrasas only. In future, we plan to pass a law asking Qawmi (private) madrasas to register with the state government. The approval will be given only to those madrasas that introduce general subjects like science and maths along with Qawmi education,” Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters after assembly proceedings.
However, madrasa teachers have questioned the government on the future of students who have already passed out of these institutions.
“If madrasas don’t exist, what value will the certificates hold for those who passed out? According to this bill, only teachers in provincialised madrasas would still have their jobs … what about those in 305 madrasas still awaiting provincialisation?” asked Islam.
Around 1,40,000 students are enrolled in more than 600 government-run madrasas in Assam, according to AMTA.
ThePrint details the specifics of the new bill and the madrasa education system in the state.
No theological courses from April 2022
According to the bill, the contents of which were made public by Sarma earlier, theological courses that are taught in government-aided madrasas will be stopped from April next year, and the teachers, who were imparting lessons on religious sciences such as ‘Fiqh/Aqaid’ (sacred law) will now be trained to teach general subjects.
Fiqh is part of the Islamic law, which contains the provisions and laws to guide practical issues on how to worship God (Allah) and honour daily human relationships in family and public life.
The State Madrassa Education Board will also be dissolved when the results of the academic year 2021-22 are declared. There will not be any fresh admission in any of the existing courses in these madrasas, prescribed by the board, from 1 April.
With the passing of the Bill, all students currently studying in the last two years of the Fadilul Ma’rif (FM) and Mumtazul Muhatddithin (MM) courses will continue their study till 31 March 2022 to complete their final examination.
FM and MM are courses of instruction in Arabic recognised by the State Madrassa Education Board. While FM is a theological degree course at graduate level, and is equivalent to a matriculation in general studies, MM in Islamic education is equated to post graduate level in theological subjects (Hadith and Quran).
According to the bill, all pre-senior (elementary to Class 6 or Class 8) and senior madrasa schools (from Class 6 to the higher secondary level) will be converted into general institutes, which will follow the academic curriculum prescribed by State Council Of Educational Research And Training, Assam — the elementary education board in the state.
Meanwhile, all Arabic colleges will be transformed into higher secondary schools and the Arabic councils will be brought under the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council.
All senior and title madrasas, which offer MM or Masters degrees, will be treated as high schools.
402 madrasas in Assam provincialised by govt
There are two kinds of madrasas in Assam — private madrasas that impart only Islamic teaching and are run on public donations, and those affiliated to the State Madrassa Education Board that teach regular school curriculum in addition to a few theological subjects in Arabic.
There are over 700 recognised madrasas in Assam, and of these 402 have already been provincialised by the government.
There are 198 High Madrasa schools under the Secondary Education Board Assam (SEBA), and another 542 such institutions under AHSEC, including four Arabic colleges, 138 senior madrasas and 230 pre-senior madrasas.
These academic institutions for elementary education and higher learning have been functioning under the State Madrassa Board, considered the oldest board of madrasa education in India.
Madrasa education in Assam dates back to 1200s
The madrasa education system in Assam is believed to have started with the advent of Muslims in 1206 AD. While the education began in mosques, it was gradually institutionalised with the establishment of madrasas in Assam by the British East India Company.
The Central Madrassa Examination Board for Senior Madrassa Education was established in 1927 to conduct examinations till 1947. Later, the provincial government of Assam converted it into the Madrassa Education Board in 1934 with nine madrasa schools under it.
After Independence, in 1950, it was renamed as the State Madrassa Education Board. Subsequently, Assam Education Departmental Rules and Order, 1954 was constituted by the government to run general-cum-madrasa education in the state.
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