LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of madrasas in India. According to a rough estimate, there are 50,000 private madrasas in the state. No less than 19,000 are affiliated to the UP Madarsa Education Board. Out of these, 560 receive government aid.
“Almost all mosques have a madrasa,” says Maulana Khalid Raseed Fringi Mahali, rector of Darul Uloom Firangi Mahal and chairman of the Islamic Centre of India, one of the biggest madrasas in Uttar Pradesh.
Since coming to power in March 2017, the Yogi Adityanath government has been trying to encourage madrasas to add secular aspects to the courses taught under their portals. Online registration of madrasas has been mandatory, and now the government has decided to introduce NCERT books in the curriculum of madrasas aided by it. Soon, subjects like mathematics, science, social science and home science will be on offer.
Subjects on offer
Students from classes IX to XII in madrasas recognised by the UP Madrasa Board are already required to study an optional 'modern' subject. The board is now trying to make two subjects -- maths, social science, science or home science -- compulsory. Primary- and junior-level madrassas already have modern subjects for compulsory study.
"Hindi and English are already compulsory but when we compared our syllabus with other boards, there was a gap," said Mohammad Tariq Ahmed, registrar of the UP Madarsa Board, justifying the government move.
Moreover, the state government is contemplating a revision of the syllabus for 'deeniyat' (religious study) too after getting the proposed changes vetted by scholars from the Aligarh Muslim University, Lucknow University, the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Urdu, Arabi, Farsi University, Lucknow-based Integral University, Nadwatul-Ulama and other leading seminaries.
In this year's budget, the Adityanath government allocated Rs 1,700 crore for minority’ welfare. Of this, Rs 394 crore was earmarked for imparting modern education in recognised madrasas and maqtabs (elementary schools).
Madrasas go online
The state government also launched a dedicated portal -- madarsaboard.upsdc.gov.in to reigister madrasas. About 16,000 of them have already registered on the portal. Online registeration is being done purportedly to ensure transparency in their functioning. In 2013, the Minority Welfare Department found that around 100 madrassas, receiving government funding did not even exist. They existed only in papers.
“They have to register online with details of their infrastructure, budget, revenue, the number of students, teachers, the curriculum followed and so on so as to maintain a database and to ensure that madrasa students receive professional education like students of other educational systems, “ says Chaudhary Laxmi Narain, cabinet minister for minority welfare.
The UP minister of state for minority welfare Baldev Aulakh said the portal was introduced to bring accountability and transparency in the way the madrasa system functions.
The portal is an effort to link all madrasas into a unified ecosystem, wherein the grants and salaries paid to madarsa teachers and staff would be facilitated through the Public Financial Management System (PFMS).
However, the move was criticised by a section of minorities and the opposition parties who claimed that it was just another tool to target the minority community like the earlier diktat issue by the Adityanath government asking the aided madrasas to ensure the recital of the national anthem by their students on Independence Day and to get the event videotaped and submitted to the government as a proof.
The UP budget made a provision of Rs 792 crore for scholarships to minority students. It also earmarked Rs 150 crore for giving fees reimbursement to minority students, Rs 18 crore for setting up of women’s hostels in minority-dominated areas for their educational and economic development, and Rs 341 crore towards the ‘Multi-sectoral District Development Plan.