Jamat-e-Islami Hind’s education wing is planning to move court against the decision of the minority affairs department to count students of madrasas that do not offer subjects such as science and mathematics as ‘out-of-school’ children. The organisation has sought legal opinion on the matter.
The school education department is conducting a day-long statewide survey on Saturday to get a headcount of the out-of-school children in Maharashtra. The government has said the decision is aimed at assessing the number of students without access to regular education and enrolling them for the same.
However, the government’s contention that many madrasas impart only religious education and not mainstream schooling in subjects such as science, mathematics and social sciences and that students of such schools should be marked as ‘out-of-school’ has not gone down well with Jamat-e-Islami Hind and other Muslim organisations, which have said that the BJP-led government is being “unfair” to the community.
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Mohammed Zahoor Ahmed, secretary of Jamat-e-Islami Hind’s education wing, said they would oppose the move strongly. “This is clearly saffronisation. The government should help madrasas and its students get formal education, not threaten to brand them as non-school and ‘out-of-school’ children. On the one hand, they introduce the madrasa modernisation project and on the other hand, they declare madrasas as non-schools. A number of students who studied in madrasas have been successful in competitive exams. The government must roll back the decision,” he said on Friday.
Ahmed said the state government’s move was against the Constitution. “The move contradicts Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution, which pertain to fundamental rights. Hence it gives us an option to move court against the decision. We are now seeking legal opinion following which we will file a public interest litigation against the state government,” he told The Indian Express.
Maulana Syed Athar Ali, Muslim Personal Law Board member and general secretary of Madrassa Darul Uloom Mohammadiyam at Mohammed Ali Road, said that madrasas are educational institutions and their objective is to impart religious education. “If the state government comes out with such diktats, it will face opposition and protests. We are ready to opt for modernisation of madrasas as it will help our students and youth.”
“Marking them as out-of-school does not mean we are going to harm these students. The state government is planning to get all the out-of-school children enrolled in formal schools. People are just overreacting,” said a senior official from the education department.
In a bid to modernise madrasas, the state government had last month announced that teaching four subjects – maths, English, science and social science —- would be mandatory for availing government grants. Currently the state has 1,889 registered madrasas, out of which 550 have already agreed to teach these subjects as part of the madrasa modernisation project.