Parallel stream

Published : Jun 06, 2008 00:00 IST

At a madrassa in Nellore. The students in this class, all girls, sit in an adjacent room and learn.-By SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

At a madrassa in Nellore. The students in this class, all girls, sit in an adjacent room and learn.-By SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

THE socio-economic status of several Muslim families is still backward owing to the lack of formal education. The Andhra Pradesh Rajiv Vidya Mission of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) is changing this. The Mission is extending all facilities to madrassas recognised by the State government or the State Madrassa Board under the Education Guarantee Scheme and the Alternative Innovative Education and placing them on a par with mainstream schools. It is also extending support to unrecognised madrassas, which are run by the community, by treating them as Education Guarantee Centres.

In this direction, the officials first took the initiative to convince the Muslim community as well as the organisers of madrassas on the importance of formal education. Subsequently, they were mobilised and invited to take the support of the SSA to provide formal education along with religious education.

As part of the initiative, the SSA has even organised seminars, conferences, workshops with the Nazims and Imams. Realising that their children cannot excel in life and compete with other citizens without a formal education, several leaders of the Muslim community have come forward to accept the support of the SSA in providing quality formal education.

Encouraged by the response, SSA officials have offered incentives such as the introduction of formal education without interrupting religious education, or Deeni Taleem. Apart from imparting knowledge on several aspects and teaching Urdu and Arabic, the Deeni Taleem system focusses on reading, memorising, interpreting and explaining the Quran. Vidya Mission volunteers have been roped in to impart formal education for a honorarium. The SSA has other programmes for the madrassas.

It is implementing the midday meal scheme to improve the rate of enrolment and providing free textbooks for the formal education stream. It is also setting aside funds to develop low-cost teaching materials and is planning to exempt the fees of students appearing for class VII and X examinations.

The Mission will seek recognition for madrassas imparting formal education on a par with government-managed schools.

According to M. Yugandhar Kumar, project officer of the Rajiv Vidya Mission of Nellore, madrassas offer three, five, eight and nine-year duration courses for qualifying as Hafeez, Quazi, Moulvi and Mufti respectively to children who are between six and 10 years old.

After the completion of the course, the students would be eligible to become Pesh-Imams in mosques and teachers/lecturers, or Nazims, in madrassas.

Most of the children who are treated as out-of-school children become tailors, mechanics, carpenters or butchers and take up other such professions, or do menial jobs after completion of the course. Poor Muslim girls, particularly, get employed in beedi-making units or remain at home. Kumar said the future course of action would be to bring all madrassas in the district under the SSA affiliation. Every school-age Muslim child should be enrolled in regular schools or in madrassas to get a formal education. The SSA will implement effective teaching-learning processes in these madrassas by employing trained teachers. The organisers of the madrassas and the SSA will make an effort to work together to complete the remaining journey to achieve the objectives in the shortest time possible, he said.

K. Mritunjaya Ram
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