By Firoz Bakth Ahmed
The Apex Court bench of Justices Rohington Nariman and Abdul Nazeer, in a landmark order, on November 2, took serious note while hearing a petition by a madrasa teacher on not releasing the grant for the beleaguered madarasas registered under the SPQEM (Special Project for Quality Education to Madrasas). The bench issued notices to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the principal secretaries of 18 states, asking them to forthwith file replies in connection with defying the order of givings salaries to the madrasa teachers.
While arguing the case, Tibah Siddiqui (who had earlier secured the relief in the famous Qaumi School case of the Delhi High Court), stated that the madrasa modernization scheme was languishing and dying a natural death. What is lamented is the totally lackadaisical and unconcerned attitude of the government. Ms Siddiqui went on to term it as even unconstitutional, apathetic and illegal as no funds had been released for the last three years.
A committee was constituted under the chairpersonship of Professor Azra, also a consultant with the Sachar Committee that suggested that as per the Pay Commission scales, the madrasa teachers’ salary should be on par with the school teachers as theirs is a much heavier teaching schedule. While the school teachers are relieved in the afternoon, the madrasa teachers’ work is quite laborious and cumbersome; therefore, these madrasa pedagogues must be handed a handsome salary.
There are about 50,000 teachers employed in about 10,000 plus madrasas registered under the SPQEM. A point to be noted is that the NITI Ayog is responsible to handover a grant of around Rs 720 crore to the madrasas. Recently, the amount was even increased; however, for the previous three years, nothing has been released.
In 2008-9, a special project for quality education of madrasas was introduced by the central government, providing for the employment of teachers in modern subjects like — the Sciences, Mathematics, English and Hindi in addition of their religious curriculum, Dars-e-Nizami which has Fiqueh (jurisprudence), Hadis, Ilm-ul-Kalam (metaphysics), Sarf-o-Nehv (Grammar), Tafsir (Interpretation), Hifz-ul-Quran (Quran Memorizing), Khattati (calligraphy) etc.
The Central Government had introduced SPQEM for the disbursement of funds for the madrasas in 2009. Truth is that the poor madrasas, spread all over India, cater to a huge populace of Muslim community since these students can’t cater to what to talk of elite education but even normal government schools. Another reason why these Muslim students get left behind is that they hardly have any connection or resources to get admission or afford to study at public or English medium schools.
Basically, the SPQEM, in its recommendations, had provided a salary of Rs. 12,000 for the postgraduate teachers and Rs. 6,000 to the graduate teachers. A sum of Rs 50,000 was assigned for the library while one lakh was to be given for the computers as one time grant. For TLMs (Teaching Learning Materials), Rs. 15,000 were assigned. Unfortunately for the last 3 years, nothing has been given to these underprivileged and deprived institutions of learning.
There are about 50,000 teachers employed in about 10,000 plus madrasas registered under the SPQEM. A point to be noted is that the NITI Ayog is responsible to handover a grant of around Rs 720 crore to the madrasas. Recently, the amount was even increased; however, for the previous three years, nothing is released. It will be very sad if the madrasa modernization programme, is annihilated owing to the non-availability of funds.
According to social activist cum constitutional expert, Atyab Siddiqui, it was highly commendable on the part of the Supreme Court to have taken note of the madrasas’ pathetic educational facilities and the blatant neglect meted out to the poor institutions catering to poorest of the poor sections of Indian society. He added, “If the Muslims of India will remain educationally backward, the country cannot develop as well.”
(The author is the Chancellor of MANUU, Hyderabad)