Guwahati: In what has invited angry reactions from various quarters, Assam government has taken a policy decision not to spend public money on religious education by shutting down nearly 614 government aided madrassas and 101 Sanskrit tols (institutes) and converting them in to high and higher secondary schools.
Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Teaching Arabic and religious texts is not the government's job. In a secular country, religious teachings cannot be funded by the government.”
Informing that government was spending Rs 3-4 cr annually on madrassas and about Rs 1 cr on Sanskrit tols, Sarma argued, “If religious texts are allowed to be taught in state-run madrassas, the Gita, or for that matter the Bible, should also be taught with government funding.”
Even after closure of government aided madrassas, the government has decided to pay salaries to the teachers of these institutions till their retirement.
“Teachers employed in these madrassas can stay home without having to worry about finding employment elsewhere as government will continue to pay their salaries till their retirement from the service,” said the minister while clarifying that madrassas are not targeted on any religious ground.
“Assam has nearly 900 private madrassas which is funded by the Jamiat Ulama,” said the minister hoping that Sanskrit tols may also continue to function a usual.
Jamiat Ulama’s legal cell convenor Masud Akhtar Zaman however said that the closure of state-aided madrassas would not affect the private madrassa education system in any way. “Our madrassas do not depend on the government for a single rupee. Almost all our students are from BPL families, and we take care of their boarding, food and clothing.”
Two years ago, the government had disbanded the madrassa education and Sanskrit boards to bring all madrassas under Secondary Board of Education, Assam, and the Sanskrit tols under the Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University in Nalbari....