Thursday, Apr 09, 2020 | Last Update : 09:20 AM IST

Assam schools to drop word ‘Maktab’

THE ASIAN AGE. | MANOJ ANAND
Published : Feb 23, 2020, 4:11 am IST
Updated : Feb 23, 2020, 4:11 am IST

The minister also announced that work to convert Madrasas and Sanskrit Tols to government schools will begin after the state budget is tabled.

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (Photo: PTI File)
 Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (Photo: PTI File)

Guwahati: In a significant move, Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said that his government has directed to drop the ‘Maktab’ word from the names of 63 schools in Assam.

Asserting that the government is determined to close all aided institutes imparting religious education, Mr Sarma said,  “Since there is no Maktabi education system now, the word ‘Maktab’ will be dropped from the names of the schools. Students of these schools have to face problems due to the notion that religious education is imparted there.”

The move assumes significance as Maktabs are traditional institutions of the Muslim community. Children from the Muslim community attend Maktabs as a religious binding. To bring out-of-school Muslim children, especially girls, within the fold of primary education, in 1995-96, the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) Assam had converted 60 Maktabs into alternative schools in three DPEP districts of Assam, particularly in Darrang, Dhubri and Morigaon.

The minister also announced that work to convert Madrasas and Sanskrit Tols to government schools will begin after the state budget is tabled.

Asserting that 80 per cent of Sanskrit tols have become meaningless, the minister claimed that they have turned into mere factories to clear Class X board exams.

“Many tols could not even send students for the Class X exam this year as there are no candidates. We cannot allow such misuse of government funds,” Mr Sarma said.

Mr Sarma recently 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 said that these centres would be converted into conventional high schools.

The minister’s announcement drew criticism from various quarters. The critics included Mr 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.

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

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. Assam government has taken a policy decision to close down government-aided madrassas and Sanskrit tols.

Tags: himanta biswa sarma, maktab