In a laudable move, the Yogi Adityanath government has decided to introduce NCERT books in madrassas in Uttar Pradesh, apart from making mathematics and science compulsory at intermediate level in the Islamic schools. The steps are intended to make madrassa students more competitive by providing them contemporary and quality education, according to Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma.
The madrassa system of Islamic education has been a bone of contention for long between communites, not just for the theological education it imparts but also for its relevance in an increasingly job-oriented world. With increasing Islamic radicalisation across the world, madrassas are also under the intelligence scanner for promotion of extremist ideologies. In India though there aren’t too many of such cases, yet reports of such incidents from elsewhere has led to the realisation that a more inclusive system of education perhaps is the only way to stem the wave.
This is what led the UP government in August to launch a portal of UP Madrassa Board for online registration of all such Islamic institutions where they were asked to upload all relevant information pertaining to their managing committee, teachers, students etc. As many as 2,500 madrassas had uploaded all their information by September 17. The aim behind the move was to stop irregularities in the madrassas and improve transparency. Registrar of Madrassa Board Rahul Gupta says there is also a move to review the curriculum, although it is in the primary stages and changes are likely in the books of all classes. While the education related to the religious curriculum will remain as before, a change is likely in other sections relating to academics in keeping with the demand of the times. Modern subjects will be included in the curriculam.
While the change in the curriculum other than religious education is in keeping with the requirements of the modern world and must be welcomed, the Uttar Pradesh government would still do good to resist from blinkered moves such as asking madrassas to videograph their Independence Day celebrations. Inclusiveness will only work if it is backed by some amount of trust in the other.