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Assam to convert madrassas, Sanskrit tols into general schools

The state will introduce centres for Indian civilisation studies

By Ali Fauz Hassan

Guwahati, Dec 14: In a bid to make education secular, Assam government will convert madrassa schools and Sanskrit tols into general schools and introduce centres for Indian civilisation studies.

Assam will be the first state to offer degree and diploma courses on Indian civilisation, said state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday. The state will have centres of Sanskrit learning called Kumar Bhaskar Varma Institute of Indian History and Ancient Studies, under the aegis of Kumar Bhaskar Varma University.

Sarma addressed a press conference to announce the development.

“It was decided during the cabinet meet on Sunday. The word madrassa will be removed from the signboards of as many as 141 madrassas along with the theological curriculum followed in these institutions,” he said.

 A total of 542 such institutions, including Arabic colleges, title madrassas, senior madrassas and pre-madrassa institutes exist at present. 50 marks for Quran studies was the only differentiating factor leading to high madrassa certificate.

“Now this will be converted to general mathematics and science subjects,” said Sarma.

The education minister said that the State Madrassa Board was being dissolved and all institutions will come under the academic purview of Secondary Education Board of Assam (SEBA) and Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC). The administration will be looked after by the director of secondary education.

The Madrassa education system in Assam began in 1934-35 during the pre-independence era when Sir Syed Sadulla was the prime minister, he said.

Present batch of High Madrassa students to be final

Sarma also said that the present batch of High Madrassa students (2021-22) will be the last to appear for the final examination. No High madrassa examination will be held after April 1, 2021, and all theological studies at government expense will cease.

The theological teachers will be trained to teach math and general science, the minister said.

Similarly, 97 Sanskrit Tols in the state will be turned into Institute of Indian History and Ancient Studies, the first such institute in the country offering degrees and diplomas on Indian civilisation. “The institutes will teach everything from the vedas to kirtan ghosa. Ancient cultures of all religions such Buddhism and Jainism, arrival of Christianity and Islam will be taught,” Sarma said.

Bill to be passed

“A bill needs to be passed by the assembly for the necessary changes and it will be done during the next session on December 27-28. Change in rules and issue of notifications will take care of the rest. We will start issuing them in a few days,” he said.

Classes to resume on January 1

The minister also announced resumption of classes in schools from January 1 as the Covid-19 situation has improved a little.

“The staggered system of classes need not be followed as the Covid-19 situation has improved. Only 20 to 25 patients in the city are testing positive daily now, that too only at the airport. Only norms related to use of masks and social distancing should be followed,” the minister said.

Sarma said that guidelines will be issued by the education department soon.

A news and features writer. Earlier worked for NE Times and The Telegraph in Guwahati. Enjoys reading, traveling and listening to music, Bob Dylan being a favourite...