The word ‘madrasa’ should cease to exist, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said as he stressed “normal education” in schools for all.
He was responding to a former chancellor of the Hyderabad Maulana Azad University who hailed the Assam government’s decision to dissolve all madrasas and turn them into general schools.
“Till the time this word (madrasa) exists, children will not be able to think about becoming doctors and engineers. If you tell children that they will not become doctors or engineers if they study in madrasas, they themselves will refuse to go,” he said amid roaring applause from the crowd.
“Teach the Quran to your children, but at home,” the chief minister said, adding that children are admitted to madrasas “in violation of their human rights”.
“The stress should be on science, maths, biology, botany, zoology. There should be normal education in schools. Religious texts can be taught at home. But in schools, they should study to become doctors, engineers, professors and scientists,” Sarma said when asked how he plans to help put more Muslim students in colleges and universities.
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Students in madrasas are extremely talented – they can memorise every word of the Quran by heart, the former chancellor pointed out. “All Muslims were Hindus,” Sarma said in a sharp retort, adding, “No one was born a Muslim (in India). Everyone was a Hindu in India. So, if a Muslim child is extremely meritorious, I will give partial credit to his Hindu past.”
In 2020, Assam decided to dissolve all government-run Madrasas and convert them into general educational institutions in a bid to ‘facilitate the secular education system’.
This year, the Guwahati High Court upheld the Assam Repealing Act, 2020, under which all provincialised (government-funded) madrasas were to be converted into general schools in the state. 13 people had filed a petition in the High Court in 2021 challenging the government’s decision to convert the state-funded madrasas to general schools.