Assam is witness to a historic development as all government-run madrassas are to be abolished and over 620 such institutions will be converted into general schools from April 1 onwards. According to Assam Education & Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, with the law taking course in the matter to this effect by the state Assembly on December 30, it got the Governor’s assent.
An official of the Education Department said that Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi has given his assent to ‘Assam Repealing Act 2020’ and, with the enforcement of that Act, more than 620 madrassas will be turned into general schools from 1 April.
This move comes into action only for government-run madrasas and the privately-run madrassas in Assam are yet to take a call on this.
Terming the development as “historic” and “progressive”, Sarma said in a tweet: “Glad that The Assam Repealing Act 2020 has received the assent of the Hon Governor & has come into effect. Madrassa Edu Provincialisation Act, 1995 and Assam Madrassa Education Act, 2018 stand repealed. All govt Madrassas will run as general education inst.”
In demonstrations by opposition parties, including the Congress and the All India Unified Democratic Front, the State Assembly passed the Assam Repealing Bill 2020 on December 30 last year, aiming to revoke the Assam Madrassa Education Act (Provincialisation) 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education Act (Provincialisation of Employee Facilities and Re-Organisation of the Madrassa Education Institute).
Education department officials said that with the enforcement of the act, the State Madrassa Education Board in Assam would also be disbanded.
The Education Minister had earlier said that the 97 government-run Sanskrit tols (centres of Vedic education) would also be shut as the government cannot fund religious education because it is a “secular entity”.
He said that these 97 Sanskrit tols will be handed over to Kumar Bhaskarvarma Sanskrit University. The tols will be turned into centres of learning and study where Indian history, civilization and nationalism will be studied.
“Irrespective of religion, Indian culture, civilisation and nationalism will be taught in these converted educational institutions, making Assam the first Indian state to teach on these themes,” Sarma told the media.
Sarma said that the government had invested Rs 260 crore annually on operating madrassas, and that “the government cannot spend public money for religious teaching”
A survey conducted by a professor at Gauhati University found that the parents and guardians of most madrassa students are not aware that their childrenare taught mainly in theology.
“Many Islamic scholars have opposed government support to teach the Quran. It was a wrong practice and we want to end this wrong practice,” he added.
The Education Minister said that madrassa education had begun in Assam in 1934, when Sir Syed Muhammad Saadula was Prime Minister of Assam during the British rule.