As the UPA government enters its last lap at the Centre,the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry is urgently pushing through a last-minute proposal for creation of a Central Madrasa Board.
The ministry,it is learnt,has sent a cabinet note on the formation of a board to govern madrasas to all concerned ministries asking them to respond to it on an urgent basis.
HRD Minister Arjun Singh revived the plan only recently despite the fact that his plan for a Central Madrasa Board was shot down in 2007 after some influential seminaries objected to it fearing government interference and audits of their finances.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board had also recently objected to the proposal saying it would amount to open interference in the religious affairs of the community.
While the objections from these seminaries remain,the government is in favour of creating the CBSE-like board aiming to mainstream all madrasa students.
The HRD ministry plans to walk the tight rope by creating a board that will help mainstream and modernise madrasas but at the same time not interfere with the traditional and theological aspect of Madrasa education.
The Central Madrasa Board is envisaged as a 10-11 member panel headed by a chairman. The board will have members from all traditional Islamic ways Shias,Sunnis and so on besides academicians,reputed persons and those from institutions of minority education.
The powers of the board will be largely like those of state madrasa boards. While the general impression of state madrasa boards is that they are not very efficient,the madrasas who choose not to be affiliated to such boards will be able to affiliate to central boards and this should help them get certificates equivalent to those of CBSE,ICSE. It is also envisaged that the funding of infrastructure will be transferred to the madrasa board, said a senior official.
The ministry,however,will not interfere in the teaching at madrasas though it will recommend modern subjects.
Madrasas are institutes of identity and due respect to religion will be given. There will be no interference to their identities as the Central Madrasa Board will confine itself to modern education in terms of the CBSE,National Curriculum Framework or National Open School format. There will,however,be no imposition of this. Madrasas will be recommended to take up these secular subjects as and when they can afford time or spare it from teaching of theology, added the official.
As of now some 10 states have madrasa boards. While attempts will be made to ask all the states to create their own boards,the HRD ministry feels that a national-level board for madrasa education on the lines of CBSE is necessary and will go a long way in mainstreaming Muslim students.
Since the board is to be set up by an Act of Parliament,it is difficult to see it pass through this brief and last parliamentary session of this Lok Sabha. However,the ministry is hoping to expedite this special case.