Monday, January 23, 2006

Hindus in Bengal Madrassa

While Madrassas are blamed across the world for preaching 'radical Islam', here's a new story to think twice. The country known for its' tolerance and secular views, has come up once more with what it should be the way to achive religeous harmony. Yes, the non-muslims are to be integrated in Madrassa education system. Non-muslims students and teachers are to be part of Islamic studies. This is not only can boost religeous tolerance, but also smashes the wall between the communities. The report from Outlook did not only amazed myself on the extent of secularism India practises, but also made me proud of Bengali culture.

There are some facts quoted in the report :
1) 12% of total 329,000 Madrassa students are Hindus. Some cases, the figure goes upto 33%(Elmenoor Barkatia High Madrassa in North 24 Parganas).
2) The syllabus is same as regular schools and the certificates are recognized by everyone. The cost of study is nominal. There are no discrimination between muslims and non-muslims on fees.
3) They are co-educational, in fact there are more girls than boys. Both girls and boys sit and study in the same classroom, without any veils.
4) The schools/Madrassas are equally eqipped with science labs and computers.
5) Islamic studies are taught not by 'mullah's, but by teachers appointed through West Bengal School Service Comission.
6) Madrassas cater to extremely poors and mostly first-generation learners.
7) Madrassas in Bengal took part in Polio eradication program, in collaboration with UNICEF.
8) Madrassa teachers enjoy same pay-scale of regular teachers.
9) 85% of those who take secondary exams through Madrassas, go onto study in regular courses afterwards.

While the whole of India is still fighting to get people out of illiteracy, adoption of this alternative but existing infrastructure of education will not only wipe out illiteracy from India, but also, promote tolerance among Indians. On the other hand, the Madrassas should not stop at this point, they should carry on with Vocational training and technical educations as well. The world would come to know, that the best way to eradicate extremists from religion, is to modernise religeous education.

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