Guwahati : More than 600 madrasas run by the government in the state will stop working in the offing.
On the opening day of the Winter Session of the assembly on Moday, Assam Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma introduced a bill for shutting down its madrasas, which the opposition Congress and India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) roundly opposed.
They said they would restart the madrasa education after coming to the power in the polls due in April-May next year.
The AIUDF members, a Muslim dominated party, walked out from the house in protest against the bill.
Introducing the bill, Himanta Biswa Sarma said: "The objective to introduce the bill -- the Assam Repealing bill 2020 would repeal of the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of services of employees and re-organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act 2018."
The bill said: "With the aim to provide exposure towards more subjects and enable greater flexibility with more frequent formative assessment for learning, a policy decision has been taken by the Government of Assam to convert all the provincialised and Private Madrassa educational institutions of the state into Upper primary, high school and higher secondary school (general) with effect from April 1 next year."
"Once the Bill is passed (by the House), the practice of running madrasas by the government in Assam will come to an end, a practice which was started by the Muslim League government in pre-Independence Assam," Sarma said in a tweet.
Earlier, Sarma had said that the state government had decided to make education 'secular' and 620 madrasas administered by the state government would be shut.
The Assam Cabinet earlier in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal approved the proposal to close down all government-run madrasas and Sanskrit tols (schools) in the state.
"All the 620 government-run madrasas will be converted into the general schools and 97 Sanskrit tols handed over to Kumar Bhaskarvarma Sanskrit University. These Sanskrit 'tols' will be converted into centres of learning and research where Indian culture, civilisation and nationalism will be studied. Irrespective of religion, Indian culture, civilisation and nationalism will be taught in these converted educational institutions, making Assam the first Indian state to teach on these themes," Sarma told the media.
He, however, had said that madrasas run by private organisations in Assam would not be shut.
The Minister said the state government had been spending Rs 260 crore annually for running the madrasas and "the government cannot spend public money for religious teaching".
"In order to bring uniformity, teaching the Quran at the cost of government exchequer cannot be allowed to continue," he had said.
Sarma claimed that most students enrolled in the madrasas want to become doctors and engineers and are not aware of the fact that these are not regular schools.
A survey conducted by a Gauhati University Professor, who is a Muslim, found that the parents and guardians of most madrasa students are not aware that their children are not taught regular subjects but imparted lessons mostly in theology.
Sarma claimed that most Islamic scholars are also not in favour of madrasas run by the government and added that these are a legacy of the Muslim League.
The Education Minister had said that madrassa education had started in 1934 when Sir Syed Muhammad Saadulla was the Prime Minister of Assam during British regime.
IANS report with edits