The Indian state of Maharashtra has de-recognized madrasas that educate students on Islam without providing instruction in other academic subjects like math and science.
Out of 1.890 madrasas, or Muslim religious schools, in the state, 550 have agreed to teach English, math, science, and social science, which are the prerequisites for being considered sources of formal education and therefore receiving grants from the state.
Eknath Khadse, the state’s minorities affairs minister, said:
Madrasas are giving students education on religion and not giving them formal education. Our constitution says every child has the right to take formal education, which madrasas do not provide.
If a Hindu or Christian child wants to study in a madrasa, they will not be allowed to study there. Thus, madrasa is not a school but a source of religious education. Thus we have asked them to teach students other subjects as well. Otherwise these madrasas will be considered as non-schools.
Our only aim behind doing this is to ensure that every child of the minority community gets a chance to learn and come into the mainstream, get good paying jobs and have a prosperous future.
We are even ready to pay madrasas for giving students formal education and are ready to provide them teaching staff as well.
This state government is currently dominated by the Bharatiya Janata Party, according to Al Jazeera.
The Muslim public and other parties in the state, like the Samajwadi Party, are outraged. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intends to bring more children into mainstream schools, writes Vicky Nanjappa of One India, considering it a modernization measure.
According to New Kerala, proponents argue that madrasas never asked for government funding, preferring to rely on public charity, and therefore this was a purely symbolic gesture. Some say that this is an anti-Muslim move.
Kamal Faroqui of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board argued that madrasas pave the way to universities and are therefore a valuable and legitimate part of the formal education system. He said:
It is ill-designed and ill-timed, I don’t know why they are doing it.
Abhay Mishra, a PhD candidate in history at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said:
This is misplaced. There are millions of Indian students who go to modern schools but remain jobless … it is a continuation of an attempt to demonize Indian Muslims and their education and religious institutions.
The constitution the BJP pretends to swear by gives right to minorities to run their own institutions. It is a fundamental right.
Madrasas are doing constructive work. They are providing education to millions of illiterate, poor Muslims which the government has failed to do. If the government was serious about this issue, why didn’t it open modern schools in Muslim areas?
According DNA India, the School Education department planned a survey of students who are not taking formal education for July 4th.