Contrary to popular belief and projections that madrasas are hubs
for training Islamic fanatics, a recent study actually reveals the
secular nature of these institutions. Madrasa Islamiya Arabia
Alim-Ul-Ulum in Devgaon of Barabanki district of the Uttar Pradesh,
India, not only has a sizeable number of Hindu children among its
students but while the Muslim children are taught Urdu and Arabic
these children are taught Sanskrit.
In true spirit of
secularism the teachers share the values of both religions with all
children. The Hindu kids prefer the madrasa to the nearby primary
school. These startling revelations are made in a study conducted by
the BETI Foundation, Lucknow, with support from UNICEF, Uttar
Pradesh. The research was undertaken to understand the role of
religious minority institutions and how they can be brought into the
mainstream. The study was done in five madrasas of Deva block in
Barabanki district, which is just half an hour drive from the state
included Madrasa Emdadul Ulum, of Peend village; Madrasa Varsiya
Jamia Hayat-Ul-Ulum, Khewali village, Madrasa Islamiya Arabia
Alim-Ul-Ulum, in Devgaon village, Madrasa Arabia Sirajul Ulum in
Bilauli village and Madrasa Ansakal Ulum situated in Rariya village.
All the five
madrasas are running with the total support of the community and
receive no financial aid from the government or any other agency.
The expenses of the madrasas, including day-to-day management is
done through donations made by the community and fees charged from
students. Out of the five, three madrasas are already teaching other
subjects besides the religious education.
madrasas are managed by 16 mudarris (teachers). Three have only one
teacher; one has two and one has 11 teachers, all below 30 years.
Forty four per cent are female teachers. But no formal training has
been provided to these mudarris.
No time table is
followed and no lesson plan is maintained by the mudarris. Every six
months a written and verbal evaluation is conducted.
A revealing fact
was the lack of hygiene in the madrasas. Four out of five madrasas
have one toilet each. The classrooms were not well kept and had
cobwebs and dust. Also the rooms are not decorated with any learning
Hussain of BETI Foundation explained that her team used three
research tools while doing the research. These included
observations, focused group discussions: with madrasa committee,
students, parents/guardians and teachers and lastly interviews with
Unlike the popular
conception that madrasas are not open to modern education it was
observed that most of the staff and students are forward looking and
realize the great importance of modern education.
management committee’s members seemed unhappy that the certificates
issued by their institutions are not recognized by the government as
they do not meet the requirements of the U.P. Board.
They also complained that the students of madrasas are often
harassed and suspected on the pretext of gathering information.
The honorarium of
the teachers was between Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 per month. Though the
earnings were insufficient, the staff did not complain about it.
However they said their work was their sacred duty and essential for
the development of religious sentiments and progress of their
community so they will continue.
provides a wholesome environment for children. This is vital for
right growth of mind and body. I find it the most interesting study
and one that will help clear a lot of doubts,’ said Mr Vinoba Gautam,
UNICEF education specialist.
He has visited the
madrasa several times and UNICEF has been regularly sending reading
material for the students translated into both Hindi and Urdu.
certainly helps clear a lot of misconceptions about madrasa studies
and also removes some cobwebs that cover our vision.