Record number of Hindu students to sit for school final exam conducted by West Bengal Madrasah Board

They account for 18% of over 70,000 students registered for the test

Updated - February 10, 2020 01:49 am IST

Published - February 09, 2020 10:23 pm IST - Kolkata

Shamli, Uttar Pradesh, 12/09/2017: Muslim boys seen reading at one of the Madrassa in Shamli Dist of Uttar Pradesh on September 12, 2017. 
Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Shamli, Uttar Pradesh, 12/09/2017: Muslim boys seen reading at one of the Madrassa in Shamli Dist of Uttar Pradesh on September 12, 2017. Photo: R. V. Moorthy

A record number of Hindu students are among the nearly 70,000 expected to sit for the school-leaving examination of the West Bengal Madrasah Board from Monday.

Nearly 18% of the students registered for the High Madrasah examination, or Standard X examination, are Hindus. In 2019, 12.77% of the students who appeared for the examination were non-Muslim, said Abu Taher Kamruddin, president of the West Bengal Madrasah Education Board.

“In the past couple of years, we are witnessing a 2%-3% rise in the number of students appearing for the examination,” he said. But the figure usually comes down “a little” because not all the registered students will sit for the examination, he told The Hindu . “Even then, the final figure is expected to be 2-3% more than last year’s.”

A large number of students have enrolled themselves in Madrasahs up to Class X, challenging the misconception that only Muslim students study in these institutions. “In Purulia, Birbhum and Bankura districts, we have four big Madrashas, where non-Muslim students outnumber the Muslim students,” Mr. Kamruddin said.

The Madrasah education started in 1780 in Bengal. It was reformed in 1851. It follows the Secondary Education Board’s syllabus “almost entirely”.

The school education under the Madrasah Board has two streams: the High Madrasah, where Arabic is optional, and Senior Madrasah, which teaches theology. “The non-Muslims mainly enrol themselves in High Madrasah as it follows the Secondary Board’s syllabus,” Mr. Kamruddin said.

An observer of primary education said the number of students under the Secondary Board is huge, a reason enough for parents to admit their children to schools under the Madrasah Board, especially in rural areas. There are over 600 government-funded Madrasahs in the State. They were studied in the past by experts from across the world for their unique characteristics. One of them is to admit girls.

“Last year, a little less than 60% students, both Muslims and non-Muslims, who appeared for the examination, were girls,” Mr. Kamruddin said. Experts say the drop-out rate among the boys, however, remains very high.

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