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August 15 deadline for tol, madarsas

Sarma said teaching religion at government expenses creates discrimination among religious communities

By Rajiv Konwar in Guwahati
  • Published 13.03.20, 12:18 AM
  • Updated 13.03.20, 12:18 AM
  • a min read
Himanta Biswa Sarma. File picture

The Assam government on Thursday announced August 15 deadline to close down all government-run Sanskrit tols and madarsas.

Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the Assembly that while the madarsas would be converted to high schools, the government was planning an optional system to strengthen Sanskrit education. “We are of the view that religion cannot be taught at government expenses,” he said.

Sarma said there was no restriction to learning or teaching a language. At present, students passing out of tols or madarsas cannot speak in Sanskrit or Arabic. He said the government would consider an Arabic course in the foreign language study wing of Gauhati University.

On the strengthening of Sanskrit education, Sarma said the government had talked to the vice-chancellor of Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University, the only Sanskrit university in the state.

“We are going to close down the tols only, not Sanskrit education. At present, the system of education in tols is harming many. They do not teach much but give certificates equivalent to Class X board examination,” he said.

Sarma said the minority communities can run their schools in the state and the government would not impose any restriction.

He said teaching religion at government expenses creates discrimination among religious communities.

He said those who have been teaching religious scriptures in the government tols or madarsas would not lose their jobs. The government may later give them the option for voluntary retirement.

Sarma said the government would register the Khareji madarsas and would bring a bill in the August session of the Assembly to compel them to teach mathematics, science, English and Assamese.

“They have full right to teach religion. But we want to bring a bill to make them teach subjects like mathematics so that in future the students become not only fit for jonab (maulvi), but also other jobs. There are not many posts of jonab in the state. We do not want the students to be unemployed,” he said.