Maharashtra government on Thursday kicked up a fresh row by stating that any student obtaining full-time religious education, either in madrassas or vedic schools or any other institution, will be considered uneducated in the State.
The government is set to hold a one-day survey for a headcount for ‘out-of-school children’, with an aim at providing them formal education with State-approved syllabus. The survey will be held on July 4.
“A child, male or female, if found studying only in religious institute which does not take government grant and does not follow formal school syllabus, will be considered uneducated and out-of-school,” Dilip Kamble, Social Justice Minister told The Hindu .
The government’s decision came under severe criticism from several political parties. “Cancellation of school status to Madarsa by Maharashtra Govt is clear indication dat when in problem rake up Hindu-Muslim friction #RSSStyle,” tweeted Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Dr. Jitendra Awhad, indicating that the issue was aimed at diverting public focus from the recently exposed alleged scams of two of the State BJP ministers — Vinod Tawde and Pankaja Munde.
Madrassas do not fit into definition of schools: Minister
The Congress accused the Maharashtra government of segregating children on the basis of mode of education.
“The decision is against the Constitution. A number of students who studied in madrassas have successfully competed in competitive exams. The government must roll back the decision,” said Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam.
Social Justice Minister Dilip Kamble, however, said that the madrassas were never considered schools by any of the past governments and the present BJP government was only taking it forward.
“We are surveying students who are out of school. As per the school’s definition under the Right to Education Act (RTE), madrassas do not fit into it,” he said, clarifying that he will not roll back the decision.
In a bid to modernise madrassa education, the government had last month announced that four subjects — Maths, English, Science and Social Science — would be mandatory for availing government grants. “Children from those madrassas where these subjects are being taught will be considered as school-going children,” said Mr. Kamble. Maharashtra has 1890 registered madrassas, out of which 550 have already agreed to teach these subjects.
While the BJP government maintained that there was no anti-Muslim motive behind the move, it evoked sharp reactions from the community.
Violation of statute: Owaisi
Assassudin Owaisi, AIMIM chief, said the BJP was deliberately and consistently targeting the Muslims. The proposal to keep madrassas out of the purview of schools, was a “violation of Articles 29, 30 and 25 of the Constitution,” he said.