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Special grant to madrasas to celebrate Independence Day

December 30, 2007 22:24 IST

Madrasas will now get a special grant to celebrate national festivals like Independence Day and Republic Day but hoisting of the national tricolour on these days will be mandatory for such institutions.

These are the new government decisions outlined in the 11th Five Year Plan that was approved by the National
Development Council recently. The Plan document, under the head 'Madarsas/Maktabs', says that "Every School and EGS/AIE center will receive a special grant to celebrate national festivals of Independence day and Republic Day. Hoisting of national flag at these institutions on these occasions is mandatory".

The document says that the government would support modernisation of all madrasas and maktabs, whose number is
around 12,000, during the five-year plan. The document also talks about the need to inculcate human values and other kinds of worldly awareness among children to help them shape well for their future.

"Education in human moral values, civic duties, environment protection and physical education will be built into the system whereby every child is prepared to face the future with a healthy frame of mind and body and become a
reasonable citizen," it says. The plan document also says that education at madrasas and maktabs will foster the spirit of liberty, freedom, patriotism, non-violence, tolerance national unity and integration.

These new measures of the government have evoked criticism from some educationists.

While renowned historian Arjun Dev said that the decision was not appropriate, historian Irfan Habib said the
government should pay attention to accessibility of educational institutions rather than such measures. "If the guidelines are general and for all educational institutions then that is okay and understandable. But if it is specifically applicable to madrasas and maktabs then that is not appropriate," Dev told PTI.

On the mandatory hoisting of the national flag, he said Article 51-A of the Constitution already talks about it and every citizen is bound to adhere to it. "There is no point in specifically making them mandatory," he said.

The government should pay attention to the availability and accessibility of educational institutions rather than talking about such measures, Habib said.

"Special grant and hoisting a national flag is not an issue. The real issue is number of educational institutions
available in the areas dominated by minorities. There are not enough schools," he said.

"I don't think this is an issue. If the government is allocating special grant, that seems fine," said renowned educationist professor Yashpal, adding "Madrasa literally means a place where learning and teaching is done".

A typical Islamic school usually offers two courses of study: a 'hifz' course; that is memorisation of the Quran (the
person who commits the entire Quran to memory is called a hafiz) and an 'alim' course, leading the candidate to become an accepted scholar in the community.

A regular curriculum includes courses in Arabic, Tafsir (Quranic interpretation), Shariah (Islamic law), Hadith
(recorded sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad), Mantiq (logic), and Islamic history.

Chandrani Banerjee in New Delhi
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