Despite having 1,889 madrasas which teach a whopping 1.5 lakh poor children, Maharashtra doesn’t have a proper madrasa board unlike Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, UP and MP, which have constituted state madrasa boards.

The Maharashtra government’s “decision” of excluding madrasas without formal subjects from the category of schools (state never counted them as schools and the seminaries remained out of purview of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and RTE Act) has highlighted a major drawback in the state’s policy for Muslims vis-à-vis other states.Despite having 1,889 madrasas which teach a whopping 1.5 lakh poor children, Maharashtra doesn’t have a proper madrasa board unlike Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, UP and MP, which have constituted state madrasa boards.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Madrasa boards are considered equivalent of mainstream education in these states. Their certificates are also on par with the school boards, which enhances employability of madrasa-educated children. Maharashtra doesn’t have any such mechanism. Muslim scholars and leaders blame politicians for indulging in “communal politics” but not enacting a law for constitution of such a board to regularise and modernise the education in seminaries.Even Mehmood-ur-Rahman committee’s report in 2013 had recommended formation of a madrasa board to the Maharashtra government. Gujarat too lacks such a board.A proposal to constitute such a board was put forth during the Congress-NCP government 10 years back and a team of government officials visited the northern states, but nothing could be done beyond that. “Rivalry between the allies, weak Muslim leadership and apprehension of madrasa management were prime reasons for the plan being shelved,” said Salim Alware, head of the Kokan Vikas Manch, who was involved in the process then.”Many madrasas in UP, Bihar and West Bengal offer formal education, and get grants from the government, with some, namely Aliah University of Kolkata, growing up to university level. Maharashtra never made any serious effort to do so. A madrasa board and gradual modernisation of seminaries would be a more inclusive and effective way to bring the community into mainstream,” said prof Abdul Shaban, director of TISS, Tuljapur campus.Barring over 600 seminaries in Maharashtra, which do teach maths, science and English and qualify for grants under Zakir Hussain Madrasa Modernization scheme started by the previous government, children studying in seminaries stare at a bleak future. Most of them belong to very poor families.Madrasas in Maharashtra function as private institutions, either affiliated to the Charity Commission or the State Wakf Board or independent. The lack of any regulation leaves these children without any certificate of formal education, which blocks their entry into mainstream educational institutions or jobs in organised sector.Madrasas usually offer religious education that involves the study of the Quran and Arabic and Urdu languages up to the age of 16 or 18.”Excluding madrasa from schools category won’t encourage Muslims to take up formal education, mainly because even poor Muslims want formal education for their kids but unaffordable private education and skewed access to government schools limit their scope. So, parents think that a madrasa education will at least get them a job in a masjid or a madrasa. Unfortunately, only a handful of them can be employed there, that too on a meagre salary of Rs2,000-2,500,” said Shaban.”Unrecognised status also hampers children’s empowerment, which further hampers the community’s socio-economic development,” said a principal of an Urdu medium BMC school.West Bengal madrasa board recognises over 600 madrasas. They get grants and offer syllabus on par with the state board, replacing Sanskrit or Hindi with Arabic. Over 180 madrasas offer vocational courses. The students can join formal education after Std X. The state also has a madrasa service commission for recruitment of teachers.Over 3,700 madrasas are affiliated to Bihar State Madrasa Board, which is equivalent to the state board, with some of them offering PG education as well. Most offer maths, Hindi and English.Madhya Pradesh’s madrasa board has 7,000 seminaries and holds exams up to Std VIII, teaching English, maths and science alongside religious subjects. After that, the students can join Madhya Pradesh State Open School.The UP state madrasa board has over 7,000 madrasas, whose students can join formal education after Std XII. Kashmir, Assam and a few southern states also have regulations in place for madrasas.NCP leader Nawab Malik admitted that the proposal to form a board couldn’t take off during the Congress-NCP regime but advised the BJP-Sena government to bring one soon. “Madrasa board is the need of the hour. It will increase the confidence of the community. Before we adopted Lord Macaulay’s system, only madrasas and gurukuls were teaching children,” said Malik.

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Bihar & West Bengal have madrasa board, why not Maharashtra, ask Muslim scholars