Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Lucknow: Three months after the Yogi Adityanath government ordered a survey of “unrecognised madrasas’ in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the Centre has instructed the state government to stop providing scholarships to seminary students enrolled in classes one to eight citing provisions of free education under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
According to a government notification, students of classes one to eight are provided education, Mid-Day meals and other facilities free of cost, and, therefore, there is no point in continuing the scholarships. Students of classes 9 and 10 are still eligible for government benefits.
Earlier, students from classes one to five got an annual scholarship of Rs 1,000 while students from classes five to eight used to get it on the basis of the courses they opted for. As per government data, around 5 lakh students of 16,558 madrasas in the state received scholarships last year.
“The way the government is going ahead, they could shut down madrasas in Uttar Pradesh someday,” Muslim Raza Khan, a teacher at a Ghazipur madrasa told Newsclick. “Basically, the government did not like it as only minority students were getting scholarships while there was no such facility for non-minority students. The majority of madrasa belong to financially weaker sections of the community. After the decision, most of the students dependent on the Rs 1,000 scholarship will be deprived of education.”
When questioned about the UP government’s logic of not providing scholarships as these students get free education, Mid-Day meals and other facilities, Khan said, “The government won’t admit publicly that only government and aided madrasas get such facilities while private seminaries manage everything themselves. Students of private madrasas have not been getting anything from the government.”
Diwan Sahab Zaman Khan, general secretary, Teachers Association Madaris Arabia, UP, told Newsclick that PM Narendra Modi said in 2018 that “Muslims should hold the Quran in one hand and a computer in the other, indicating that his government was concerned about the empowerment of Muslims. But what has been happening for the last eight years is not hidden.”
The decision to stop scholarships, according to Khan, will “result in an increase in the dropout rate”. “When the situation of minorities is worse than that of Dalits in terms of education, scholarships were needed to encourage students. It is an unfortunate move by the government.”
Khan added that several parents send their kids to madrasas for primary education and such “scholarships boost their morale to continue their studies. But the government has dashed their dreams with the decision”.
There are 16,513 recognised madrasas in UP out of which 560 get financial assistance from the state government.
When the government claimed that the survey of “unrecognised and private madrasas” was conducted to gather information about the number of teachers, curriculum and basic facilities available there, among other factors, many minority organisations termed it an attempt to target the community.
Ateef Ansari, a social activist working for the empowerment of minority communities, told Newsclick, “The sequence of government actions on madrasas is nothing but a direct attack to deprive minority students of education. Students need scholarships for encouragement as there is a lack of knowledge in the community.”