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Madrasa boards are welcome if…
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Continued from

Madrasa education is a part of a Muslim child's religious tradition. Steps should be taken to encourage these institutions to add inputs on modern education also. Efforts should be made for providing increased facilities for modern education, particularly in areas where such facilities are lacking. 

It is a fact of life that madrasas are doing a wonderful job and providing education to millions of people in the country. A large number of madrasas are also realizing the need of modernizing and have started streamlining them. Several madrasas have also added new subjects like science, mathematics, Hindi and English in their senior classes. Computer is penetrating in madrasas at a pace never seen before. Several madrasas are also trying to get recognition from universities for courses they provide. It gives an opportunity to their students to seek admission in higher institutions after completing their studies in such madrasas. Thousands of students of madrasas have been benefiting through this system. An increasing number of such institutions is trying to do it in their own way.

But still things look far from rosy. Most of institutions still lack courage to change tracks. Several of them have no idea of what to do in the changing circumstances. They lack vision and certainly lack administration that can carry out such plans. 

A number of such institutions are confused. They are unable to come out with a plan that can convince even them. And in search of some solution a few of them are repeatedly changing syllabus. Some are even doing it every year, causing distraction of their own students. They change duration of courses, some go for reducing and others increasing with nothing being understandable for them. Recently Jamiatul Falah increased duration of its course from fifteen years to sixteen. And even after completing such a lengthy and boring course, students fail to get anything. 

Their is a great need to streamline these madrasas and put them on a track. A course should be prepared that could do justice with issues they confront. Students as well as teachers in these madrasas need attention. If the madrasa boards could do justice with these issues, it would be a great service to the society. 

It is heard that the ministry of human resources development is presently administering the central sector scheme for giving financial assistance for modernization of madrasa education. The scheme should be strengthened and greater publicity should be given to it. For bringing madrasas into mainstream with the benefits of the modern educational system, state governments should provide financial support for these madrasas.

If by establishing Madrasa Board the government aims to modernize these institutions, provide infrastructure to them and improve their educational standard, it is a welcome step and should be supported. A considerable time of most madrasas and their administration is spent on looking after and raising funds for the institution. Funds are not raised in a hurry as is believed by most people. People from madrasas go places and collect money from individual Muslims. During Ramadan, thousands of people from madrasas can be seen collecting funds from Muslims around the country to run madrasas. Government’s financial assistance will reduce the burden considerably.

But it should be restricted to improving the lot of madrasas and monitoring them. There should be no talk of a regulatory body to control them. The task is full of loopholes and in course of time, there is a fear that these monitoring bodies might be turned into regulatory bodies. 

There is another fact that should be analyzed closely. Government-run madrasas do not present anything encouraging. Be it in Bihar, West Bengal or Madhya Pradesh, government-run madrasas are worst performers and nothing is taught there. These function almost like government-run primary schools where teacher sits through the day without teaching a single word, or stays away from classes and comes to schools to collect his salary once a month. 

One important aspect of this affiliation should be full involvement and control of leading Muslim personalities in any such program. Muslim ulama and intellectuals should be given the task of preparing a syllabus and then monitoring these institutions. The venture is going to meet any degree of success only if these things are done, otherwise everything will remain on paper and will do no good.
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