Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma. (DC file photo)
Guwahati: In what has triggered a fresh debate over madrasa education, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who ordered the conversion of 740 government-run madrasas into general educational institutions on Sunday, said that the word madrasa should cease to exist and there should be modern education in all schools.
Addressing a media conclave organised by ‘Panchjanya’ and ‘Organiser’, Sarma said, He said, "Till this word — madrasa — exists, children will not be able to think about becoming doctors and engineers. If you tell children that they will not become doctors or engineers if they study in madrasas, they themselves will refuse to go."
He said that children should study the Quran but at home. Claiming that admitting children to madrasas was a violation of their human rights, Sarma said, "The stress should be on science, maths, biology, botany, zoology. There should be normal education in schools. Religious texts can be taught at home. But in schools, they should study to become doctors, engineers, professors and scientists."
Sarma was of the view that entry to a religious institution should be at an age where individuals can make their own decisions.
He was asked about madrasa students who can recite the Quran. He replied: "...if a madrasa going child is meritorious, it is because of his Hindu heritage... at one point of time all Muslims were Hindus."
The remark of Assam Chief Minister has not gone down well among many, including the Muslim clerics. Islamic scholar Maulana Masood Hassan Qasmi, who hails from Assam, said that the word ‘madrasa’ meant school.
He said that preventing the opening of private madrasas or closing them down was in violation of the Constitution. "We welcome the move of converting government-aided madrasas into general schools," said Qasmi while referring that Article 30 of the Constitution states minorities have the right to establish and administer educational institutions.