GUWAHATI, Oct 17: “BJP-led government in Assam will issue a notification regarding shutting down of all state-run madrassas and Sanskrit tols in November,” state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said here on Saturday.
“Madrassas are educational institutions, where the ‘Quran’ and the Islamic sacred law are taught along with mathematics, grammar, poetry, and history. Around 148 contractual teachers working in these madrassas are likely to be shifted to schools under general secondary education,” Sarma told a press conference here.
“The final year students will be allowed to pass out but henceforth all taking admission in these schools will have to study as regular students,” Sarma said.
The Sanskrit tols (institutes) will be handed over to the Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit University and these will be converted into centres of learning and research where Indian culture, civilisation and nationalism will be studied, he said.
“This step has been taken by the government to ensure that students get regular education under the Secondary Education Board of Assam (SEBA),” he said.
The examinations of the madrassas and the tols are different with students not appearing for the matriculation examination conducted by the SEBA, the minister said.
“They are, however, given equivalency with those appearing in the board examinations which is unfair on the regular students,” Sarma added.
Asked if the step was taken with an eye on the state elections, which is to be held early next year, the minister said, “How can this be an election issue when we are only closing the government-run madrassas and not the private ones.”
There are 610 government-run madrassas in Assam with the state spending Rs 260 crore annually, Sarma said.
The education minister on Thursday said that the state government cannot spend public money on religion-based scriptures.
“Assam runs nearly a thousand madrassas and spends Rs. 260 crore annually on this. We have examined this and found that the state should not involve in the teaching of the ‘Quran’. That is not our job,” he told a satellite channel.
“It is not the job of a government to run institutions that teach religious scriptures and shutting down state-run madrassas and Sanskrit tols is a secular act”, he said.
Sarma also highlighted the demands to teach Bhagavad Gita and the Holy Bible in the schools from other organisations and asserted that the government shall not use taxpayer funds to teach particular religious scripts.