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It's not government's duty to teach religion: Assam’s Education Minister on closure of Sanskrit tols

Last week, he had announced that the government would shut down the government-aided madrassas and Sanskrit tols saying that 'it is not the duty of the government to teach religion.

Published: 22nd February 2020 03:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd February 2020 03:31 PM   |  A+A-

Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (File photo| PTI)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Assam’s Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said his mother’s opposition to the state government’s move to shut down Sanskrit “tols” (Sanskrit-teaching schools) cannot deter it from executing the plan.

“The government has its own way of functioning and it is not run in accordance with what the parents may think. The government’s decisions are always based on necessities and logic,” Sarma told journalists.

“Eighty per cent of Sanskrit tols have become meaningless. They have turned into mere factories to clear Class X board exam. Many tols could not even send students for the Class X exam this year as there are no candidates. We cannot misuse government funds,” the Minister said.

Last week, he had announced that the government would shut down the government-aided madrassas and Sanskrit tols saying that “it is not the duty of the government to teach religion”. He had asserted that these centres would be converted into conventional high schools.

The government’s move drew criticism from some quarters. The critics included Sarma’s mother Mrinalini Devi, who was recently elected as the vice-president of Assam Sahitya Sabha, which is the state’s highest literary body.

Devi, who will take charge in April, had insisted that the government continue to work for the promotion of Sanskrit as “Sanskrit is the root of the Assamese”.

“As a school student, I had also studied Sanskrit. I love the language. Even if the tols are converted into high schools, Sanskrit can still be taught there,” she had argued.

Opposition Congress and some other organisations were also critical of the government’s decision.

Assam has 614 government-run madrassas. Of the over 900 Sanskrit tols, only 97 are government-aided. The government-aided madrassas and Sanskrit tols are likely to be closed down from April when the next academic session begins.

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