No more government-aided madrasas in Assam from THIS date; check details

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In a significant development, all government-run madrassas in Assam will be shut down and over 620 such institutions will be converted into general schools from April 2021 onwards. This comes after a law passed to this effect by the state assembly on December 30, 2020, got the Assam Governor’s assent, Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Wednesday.

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An official of the Education Department said that Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi has given his assent to `The Assam Repealing Act 2020` and with the enforcement of the said act, over 620 madrassas would be converted into general schools from April 1. However, the state government is yet to take any specific decision about hundreds of privately-run madrassas across Assam.

Terming the development as “historic” and “progressive”, Sarma said in a tweet, “Glad that The Assam Repealing Act 2020 has received the assent of Hon Governor & has come into effect. Madrassa Edu Provincialisation Act, 1995 and Assam Madrassa Education Act, 2018 stand repealed. All govt Madrassas will run as general education inst.”

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Amid protests by the opposition parties, including the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front, the state Assembly had passed the Assam Repealing Bill 2020 on December 30, 2020, seeking to abolish the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act, 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.

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Education department officials said that with the enforcement of the act, the State Madrassa Education Board in Assam would also be disbanded. The Education Minister had earlier said that the 97 government-run Sanskrit tols (centres of Vedic education) would also be shut as the government cannot fund religious education because it is a “secular entity”.

He had said that these 97 Sanskrit tols would be handed over to the Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit University. The tols will be converted into centres of learning and research where Indian culture, civilisation and nationalism will be studied. “Irrespective of religion, Indian culture, civilisation and nationalism will be taught in these converted educational institutions, making Assam the first Indian state to teach on these themes,” Sarma told the media.

Sarma had said that the state government had been spending Rs 260 crore annually for running the madrassas and “the government cannot spend public money on religious teaching”.

A survey conducted by a Gauhati University professor, who happens to be a Muslim, found that the parents and guardians of most madrassa students are not aware that their children are not taught regular subjects but imparted lessons mostly in theology. Sarma claimed that most Islamic scholars are also not in favour of madrassas run by the government, and added that these were a legacy of the Muslim League.

The Education Minister had said that madrassa education had started in Assam in 1934 when Sir Syed Muhammad Saadulla was the Prime Minister of Assam during the British regime.

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