Computers have finally made inroads into the madrasas in Chandigarh. Traditionally known to be hubs of religious education,six madrasas have chosen to impart skill-based courses to help students in getting jobs.
At the madrasas in Manimajra,Maloya,Gobindpura,Mauli Jagran,Bapu Dham and Burail,students are introduced to computers and the Internet from Class VIII. In the short-duration courses that span about three to six months,knowledge about hardware and software is imparted.
The Manimajra madrasa has gone a step further it is the first madrasa where students wear uniforms,keep diaries and parent-teacher meetings are held.
Maulana Shakeel,president of the Manimajra madrasa management,said: Madrasas are generally associated with terror. While we agree that religious education is necessary,modern education should also be provided to students for an overall development. We let the children pursue their interests and lay stress on health and hygiene. There was initially resistance from parents,which we overcame.
A primary concern is,however,the lack of infrastructure. In the madrasa in Maloya,there is only one dormitory for 15-odd boarders. Medical facilities are non-existent,playgrounds are missing and not all madrasas have qualified teachers.
Municipal councillor Arshad Khan,who is working towards the transformation of madrasas,said: Around 4 to 5 per cent of Muslim students study in madrasas while a smaller percentage of them are enrolled in normal schools. The rest dont study at all. The education they receive in madrasas makes them qualified either to become a maulvi or a translator. Our aim is to see that all children are given an opportunity to study and make a mark in life.
He adds: In the madrasa in Manimajra,we plan to introduce courses like industrial accounting for students. Also,a separate board,comprising educationists who are able to strike a balance between the traditional and modern,is needed.