Introduction of residential schools for children of Muslim minorities in particular and minorities in general has resulted in a drastic change in the education priorities of poor and lower middle class Muslim families. It has also impacted traditional Muslim madrasas in the state, particularly those in the city. A majority of poor Muslim families are showing a keen interest in enrolling their wards in residential madrasas. The education imparted is in English, plus the madrasa is bearing the cost of their food, clothes and health care. The government, which is aiding the madrasas, is spending 1 lakh per student annually.
The Telangana Minorities Residential Educations Institutions Society (TMERIS) has received more than one lakh applications for admissions into residential schools for the academic year 2017-18. According to Islamic scholars, lack of employment opportunities for the youth, who have completed their education in the traditional madrasas, is the chief reason for parents preferring the modern madrasas.
MD Shafiullah, the secretary of the TMREIS, said that with the government grant and the assurance of modern education coupled with formal study of the religion are driving more and more Muslim parents towards residential schools. About 25 per cent of seats in each of these madrasas is reserved for non-minority students, who fall in the SC/ST and OBC category. Urdu is a compulsory subject for Muslim students in these schools and Telugu is compulsory for the rest.
MD Shafiullah also said that the government has sanctioned Rs 425 crore for the academic year 2017-18. He said 71 schools were established in the academic year 2016-17 and now the government has sanctioned another 121 schools and these schools are becoming functional from the AY 2017-18 with a total sanctioned strength of 52,000 seats. He added that besides academics they have been promoting sports by making it a compulsory subject in their curriculum.
The secretary said “Many students from traditional madrasas are also enrolling in our residential schools. For instance, a student who has completed the Hafez course in a traditional madrasa has now joined in our school and leading Tarawhi prayers in the school during the Ramzan.”
Scrutiny of foreign funds pushes madrasas into crisis:
Traditional madrasas in the city and in the rest of Telangana have been facing a severe fund crisis due to the strict vigil by Indian and foreign intelligence agencies on donations made by non-resident Indians. NRIs are also afraid of transferring the money to madrasas for fear of coming into the limelight and facing unnecessary harassment. Dr Mufti Mohammed Mastan Ali, the rector of Jamaitul Mominaat Madrasas for girl students, said that while they have not faced a cash crunch, several madras-as in the city and elsewhere in the state have been facing a severe fund crisis.
Moulana Abdur Raheem Khurrum, an Islamic scholar, said that the madrasas are mainly dependent on donations from foreign countries. Since the inflow has reduced in the last two years, he said it has greatly impacted its functioning. He said earlier the madrasa officials used to visit the US, UK and Middle East countries during the Ramzan month to collect Zakat from the Indians Muslims residing in those countries. It is not so easy to do so any longer. He said madrasas are mainly concentrating in providing religious education to the students. Though some of the madrasas have introduced modern education, including basic computer studies, they are not able to get the right faculty as the salaries they offer are meager.
He added after the establishment of Telangana Minority Residen-tial Schools, the traditional madrasas have been further affected as parents now want to enroll their students in the residential madrasas. Dr Mufti Mohammed Mastan Ali said that many Zakat Collection Organisations favour modern education and this too has had an impact on the madrasas. An official from a mad-rasa, on condition of anonymity, disclosed that a number of madrasas in the city are run by the Muslims from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
These madrasas are getting students by offering `5,000 to their parents. He added that recently five organisers of different madrasas in the city had gone to the US to collect donations from NRIs, but four of them were denied entry into the US while one gained entry on health grounds.