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Madrassa trains women in IT skills
Vandana Ramnani in New Delhi | June 27, 2005 13:12 IST
Madrassas have remained the preserve of men, but this one has broken new ground. The Babul-Uloom Madrassa, cradled in majestic dome and minarets, is an information and communication technology centre for Muslim women.
The madrassa located in Seelampur is a high density, low-income area. The women here rarely venture out of their homes and the burqa system is rigorously adopted.
The initiative is targeted at young Muslim women leading extremely restricted lives with little access to public spaces or interaction outside the family.
The project is a tripartite alliance between United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Datamation Foundation and Maulana Zaffrudin Ahmed of the Madrassa.
The centre aims to train Muslim women in the application of ICTs for their income and skill enhancement.
"The project is a pilot study to assess social and economic impact of ICTs in improving quality of womens' lives. The focus is not so much on technology itself but on its innovative use to empower these women with tools to
The idea to set up such a centre came up in 2002 and various choices were considered such as schools, community halls to a primary health centre. Finally they set a partnership with Maulana Zaffrudin Ahmed of Babul-Uloom Madrassa.
The overriding consideration was the credibility of the place, being a madrassa-cum-masjid and the Maulana's standing in the eyes of the community.
The madrassa was not only a place of prayer but also of learning. This reason itself secured the centre as a legitimate and safe place for young women to attend, explains Subramanian.
Starting the centre was not devoid of challenges. It was initially very difficult to convince the locals about the importance of the centre but slowly the number of students increased. Many girls were dropouts and were not familiar with the English language. Another was relating to functional infrastructure, the area is prone to frequent powercuts.
The centre charges Rs 50 for girls per month and Rs 150 for boys for whom evening classes are held.