An ongoing inquiry which Department of School Education ordered has revealed that as many as 16 madrassas associated with Sarva Shiksha Abhyan, which provides funds for the “mainstreaming” of madrassa students, in the city are fake. The probe has brought Islamic seminaries, which are already being accused of preaching intolerance, back into the spotlight.
While the preliminary inquiry has been submitted to the government, department officials are now busy gathering data to compile an exhaustive report.
Those in the know of things estimate that there are between 700 and 1,000 fully-functional madrassas in the state. To break it down further, an ongoing study, says general secretary of socio-religious organisation Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind, Telangana & Andhra Pradesh (JUH,TAP) Khaleeq Sabir, shows that the number of Islamic seminaries in the city and Ranga Reddy district is around 200. But, unlike the 16, these are madrassas which are privately managed and have little to do with the government.
Mainstreaming of madrassa students has been on the agenda of previous state governments too for quite some time now. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said that he wanted to see madrassa students holding the Quran in one hand and a computer in the other. To equip the stste’s madrassa students with modern education, a panel of academicians and religious figures was put together a couple of years ago to study the functioning of government madrassa boards in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, on account of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, little was accomplished.
A second challenge which madrassas could face in the near future is the Centre’s stand on Article 30 of the Constitution — which gives minorities the right to establish and run their educational institutions — as illustrated by the draft new education policy. While the document does not specifically speak of what it intends to do with madrassas, it does say that minority institutions use their ‘constitutional’ privilege to wiggle out of “national obligations”. The language employed is distressing.
To say that nothing has change within the privately-run madrassa set-up would be wrong. There have been improvements. ‘Modern’ subjects such as mathematics and English are being taught in some seminaries. But quicker and amore concerted efforts from within this set-up are required. And if this doesn’t happen, the set-up could face another ‘oral triple talaq’ like situation, with factors it describes as “external” intervening much to its chagrin.