Assam introduces Bill to convert madrasas into general schools

The State is also converting Sanskrit learning centres into study centres of Indian history and culture

December 28, 2020 11:16 pm | Updated 11:20 pm IST - GUWAHATI

 Himanta Biswa Sarma

Himanta Biswa Sarma

The Assam government on Monday introduced a Bill in the 126-member Assembly to convert the State-run madrasas into general educational institutes from the next fiscal.

The Assam Repealing Bill, 2020 seeks to repeal the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.

Following a protest from opposition parties after the Bill’s introduction in the House, Finance and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the government was not taking any steps to close down or regulate the private madrasas.

“The teachers and the non-teaching staff of the madrasas, provincialised under the two Acts, will not face any difficulties. There is a clause that says that despite repeal of the Acts, any action taken under the Acts so repealed before the date of commencement of the Repealing Act shall be deemed to have been validly done or taken under the Repeal Act,” Dr. Sarma said.

The Bill proposed to convert the madrasas into upper primary, high and higher secondary schools with no change of status and pay, allowances and service conditions of the teaching and the non-teaching staff.

Assam has more than 600 State-run madrasas, started in 1915. The government spends ₹260 crore on these madrasas and the Sanskrit “tols” (Sanskrit learning centres) annually.

The State also has 189 high madrasas. Apart from conventional subjects such as mathematics, science, English, etc., they teach theology that carries 50 marks. The government decided to drop this subject and remove the word “madrasa” from the institutes.

The State’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government had in February this year said “religious teachings cannot be imparted with government funds in a secular country.”

“We’ve taken an historical decision to secularise the State’s education system,” Dr. Sarma had said recently after the State Cabinet had approved the proposal on madrasas.

The government is also converting 97 State-run Sanskrit “tols” into study centres of Indian history and ancient Indian culture, the Minister said.

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