The decision to grant aid to madrassas is an obvious political move with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But it can also be argued that it’s an attempt to modernise and bring madrassas into the mainstream education system.
“If the aid is given without any strings attached, we will accept it,” said Maulana Hakim Mehmood Daryabadi, general secretary of the All India Ulema Council.
Professor Abdul Shaban of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) said madrassas are in two minds on accepting financial aid from the state. “Madrassas want government money, but they do not want government control over them.
They fear that accepting the government grant would allow the state to interfere and change their holy policies. That may degrade the religious value of the institutions,” said Shaban, who recently conducted a survey on Urdu-medium schools and madrassas in the state.
Shaban, however, said the decision to provide scientific education in madrassas will provide a broader perspective and help students get jobs. “Not just Muslims, Hindus too avail of education in madrassas. The need of the hour is to give them a modern and secular education along with a
religious education,” he said.
The decision to financially support the madrassas was taken at the state cabinet’s meeting chaired by CM Prithviraj Chavan. The move will entail an expenditure of Rs75 crore, but is expected to touch Rs100 crore as the government is also contemplating granting freeships. Over two lakh students are enrolled in madrassas.
Minister for textiles and minority affairs, Arif Naseem Khan, said the decision to aid the madrassas was taken in line with the recommendations of the Sachar committee.
“The government has also accepted the recommendation to introduce computer and science education in madrassas,” he said. Apart from this, the state will grant annual scholarships of Rs4,000 for class IX and X students and Rs5,000 to those studying in class XI and XII of madrassas.
The Shiv Sena and the MNS slammed the government, saying it was a political decision in view of the upcoming state and general elections.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said while the state was denying aid to Marathi schools, citing lack of funds, it is willing to pump in funds and support madrassas. MNS president Raj Thackeray accused the state of pandering to the Muslim votebank.
Muslims constitute 16 per cent of the state’s population.
Surendra Jondhale, professor of political science at University of Mumbai, agrees. “The decision to give financial assistance to religious institutions has been taken with an eye on the polls.
The Congress is losing ground and so, the state has decided to appease the minority by giving them various sops,” he said. “The madrassas are not approved or run by the government. So, it is setting a wrong precedent.
Tomorrow, other religious institutions will demand the same.
What will the government do then?”
The government will grant Rs2lakh to each madrassa to improve infrastructure and an additional Rs50,000 for setting up a library and laboratory. “Rs5,000 will be given for the maintenance of the laboratory,” said Amin Patel, Congress MLA, who was the first to demand financial aid to madrassas two years ago.
The state government will appoint D Ed and B/Bsc Ed teachers in madrassas at a monthly salary of Rs6,000 and Rs8,000 respectively. One madrassa will have three teachers. The state will hire more if the need arises.
“Initially, we have approved Rs10crore for 200 madrassas.
The amount will be disbursed by March 2014. In the next budget, the provision will be increased, depending on the demand,” Naseem Khan said.