Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the Cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal to shut down all state-run madrasas and Sankrit tols, or schools, reported PTI.
“Existing laws related to madrasas and Sanskrit tols will be repealed,” Patowary said. “A bill will be introduced in the next session of the Assembly.” The winter session of the state Legislative Assembly will be held on December 28.
Assam’s Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had in October said that the government was shutting down the state-run madrasas and tols as it cannot allow teaching religious education with public money.
Assam has 610 government-run madrasas, Sarma had said, according to The Indian Express. Similarly, there are about 1,000 recognised Sanskrit tols and nearly 100 are aided by government funds. “So, we have decided to convert these institutes into seats for general education. Now, 600 madrasas will be closed [down[,” the minister had said during The Indian Express’ Idea Exchange event in November. “In these madrasas, we are going to impart modern education. This [is not to] save any finance. We will keep spending Rs 300 crore because we are not going to take anybody out of service… The madrasa education is opposed by the students themselves.”
During a discussion on the budgetary allocation for the state education department, Sarma had said that the madrasas could not be provincialised as the state was adopting a modern education system. He added that people can run the religious institutions on their own if they want.
The government had in February decided to shut down the religious institutions and convert them into high schools and higher secondary schools within five months. The decision, however, had faced sharp criticism from Hindu and Muslim organisations.
The All Assam Minority Students’ Union had said the decision was in line with the government’s agenda of “harassing Muslims and denying them basic rights” as guaranteed in the Constitution. “Madrasas don’t only teach Islamic scriptures and Arabic, they also teach subjects like any regular school,” it had said in a statement.