PTINew Delhi, Delhi, IndiaMar 18, 2017, 10.10 AM
The Indian government plans to refurbish infrastructure and quality of education in Islamic religious schools, known as madrassas, across the country.
Building toilets, providing meals to students and training teachers are the core areas the government aims to focus on.
Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Saturday that they aim to build 100,000 toilets in madrassas by March 31, 2018.
The plan to focus on madrassas is a part of the federal government's 3T formula -- teachers, tiffin and toilets.
"In the meetings, we have decided that the madrassas which are providing mainstream education or those that want to, we will help such madrassas on a big scale," Naqvi said.
The government also wants madrassas to impart science and technology classes in order to get their syllabus in sync with modern-day requirements.
The decision to revamp madrassas was taken before five Indian states went to polls in February and March.
"Some of the members of the foundation (General Body of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation, an autonomous non-profit minority welfare institution) will travel to different states to find out those who wish to associate with this paradigm," the minister further said.
The Narendra Modi administration also wishes to more than double the scholarships provided to Muslim girls by end of next financial year.
Currently, 20,000 students have availed the Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship, and next year's target is to reach 45,000 students.
And by 2019, the government wants to the scholarship programme to benefit 500,000.
Indian governments, including previous regimes, have tried to modernise madrassas in India, but the efforts have been frowned at by traditionalists like the ulemas (clergy).
The government seeks to modernise the traditional Islamic schools because it wants Muslims to have better job opportunities once they finish their studies.
The syllabus in madrassas are very different from that adopted by the general schools in India. Content of education is decided by a few Islamic institutes and students are taught in Arabic, as opposed to English or other Indian languages in other schools.