Bihar to give funds to 2,700 unaided madrassas

June 30th, 2010 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Patna, June 30 (IANS) Ignoring alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) strong reservation on promoting madrassas in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has decided to provide financial support to 2,700 unaided Islamic seminaries.
The 2,700 madrassas are affiliated to the Bihar State Madrasa Education Board but have not been getting any financial aid from the government till now.

Human Resource Development Principal Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh told IANS over telephone Wednesday that the state government has decided to provide financial aid to 2,700 madrassas.

“The government will provide financial aid to these madrassas. They are other than the 1,127 madrassas already receiving financial aid,” Singh said.

Political observers said that Nitish Kumar’s move to provide financial support to unaided madrassas, ahead of the next state assembly polls this year, was a bid to woo Muslim voters, who constitute over 16 percent of total voters in the state.

The BJP, which is an alliance partner of Janata Dal-United in Bihar, was not in favour of providing financial aid to more madrassas. “The BJP was not in favour of providing financial aid to madrassas but Nitish Kumar ignored our stand,” a senior BJP leader said.

The chief minister announced the decision to provide financial aid to all madrassas affiliated to the board two days ago at a public meeting in Gopalganj district during his ‘vishwash yatra’ (confidence march).

According to board sources, Bihar has over 4,000 madrassas, including 1,127 state-run Islamic schools where the staff is paid by the government and students are provided free books and mid-day meal.

There are more than 2,700 madrassas that are affiliated to the board but are not getting financial aid and manage their funds through donations, a board official said.

The board has already initiated several measures to modernise education in madrassas. It has introduced computers and laboratories in some seminaries. Some madrassas even encourage students to join the National Cadet Corps (NCC) or the Scouts and Guides.

It also plans to start several professional courses to provide opportunity to students to earn a living from occupations other than traditional Islamic teachers or Muslim priests.

According to the 2001 census report, the Muslim population in India was 13.4 percent (138 million) of the total population. Muslims have a literacy rate of 59.1 percent against an all-India literacy rate of 64.8 percent, and only half of the Indian Muslim women are literate (50.1 percent).

However, Muslim women in Bihar have a much lower literacy rate of 31.5 percent.

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