The state has 1.5 lakh students studying in informal religious institutions like madrasas, gurudwaras and churches
Geetanjali Minhas | July 6, 2015 | Mumbai
Saturday (July 4) was a big day for the education department. The Maharashtra government undertook a massive survey, ostensibly to count the number of out-of-school children. The department of school education’s survey sought to bring them into mainstream education. The government has claimed that their intention is to help impart formal education but the Muslim community feels the other way.
More than 1.5 lakh students are studying in informal religious institutions like madrasas, gurudwaras and churches. However, the survey has not gone down well with the Muslim community. It accused the government of stoking a fundamentalist agenda.
Out of 117million population in the state, 1,48,000 Muslim students attend the states’ 1,889 registered madrasas . There are also believed to be thousands of unregistered madrasas.
Most children in madrasas come from economically weaker families and madrasa-oriented education may offer limited career prospects for children. Though most madrasas focus on Islamic studies, few teach science , maths , english and Marathi. They also receive official funding .
Academicians have come down on the government for considering children studying in madrasas as ‘out of school’ as these have been recognised as institutions giving theological education as per RTE Act 2009. According to the guidelines issued by the central government, pertaining to section 35 of RTE Act, say that the institution including madrasas, and vedic pathshalas, especially serving religious and linguistic minorities are protected under Articles 29 and 30 of the constitution. ‘The Act does not come in the way of continuance of such institutions, or the rights of children’ say the guidelines.
Approximately 9 lakh children are estimated to be out of school.
The literacy figures of minority communities of the Census Report of 2001 say that out of 12.4% Muslim population, 59.1 percent are literate, 97.9%, out of total 0.007 percent Zoroastrian (Parsi) population, 80.3% of 2.3percent Christians, 72.7% of 0.8 percent total Buddhist and 69.4% of a total of 1.9percent Sikh population is literate.
The education department survey will not be over with the identification of out-of-school children but continue further. Within a week of identification, the government will provide them with aadhaar cards so that their UID no will be linked to the schools U-DISE (unified district information system for education) number. The child’s attendance in the school will then be tracked by the state using hid UID no.
Assuring the community the Maharashtra government has said that madrasas that have opted for modernisation will be exempted.
Maharashtra Minorities Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse has said our constitution says that every child has a right to formal education which madrasas do not provide . “The government has asked madrasas to teach other subjects besides teaching religious education otherwise these madrasas will be considered as non-schools. 550 out of a total 1,890 registered madrasas in the state have agreed to teach the four subjects to students” he said.
State education minister, Vinod Tawde has also added that all government recognised madrasas get an annual grant of Rs 3 lakhs towards infrastructure development, teachers’ salaries and for libraries, to impart formal education along with religious studies, but not all madrasas teach modern subjects.
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