By Nikhat Fatima, Muslim Mirror
Breaking stereotypes about Madrasa graduates is what Vision International Academy (VIA) does by enabling them to complete secondary school education in English medium empowering them to aspire for pursuance of higher professional education.
Founded in 2018 by the Manappat Foundation, Vision International Academy is a residential educational institute that enables Huffaz e Quran (Muslims who have memorized the quran) for higher education. Young boys who graduate from a madrasa (seminary) after having memorized the Holy Quran many times find themselves at odds with the fast paced world especially if they are from a financially poor family. While many take up small time jobs to fend themselves, some become clerics or Imams in mosques.
Others who are financially fit also find it difficult to adapt to the mainstream education. Here is where VIA steps in.
All these Huffaz can now get admission in VIA where they can pursue high school in English medium till 12th under the CBSE syllabus. And later on appear for competitive exams so that they can pursue their dreams of becoming doctors, engineers, Vision International Academy located in Phulat, Muzaffarnagar Uttar Pradesh is the brainchild of Ameer Ahamed Manappat, the Kerala-based philanthropist-cum-businessmen who is also the founder of Manappat Foundation a corporate social responsibility of Manappat Group of Companies. Manappat Foundation aims at economic improvement of marginalised sections by supporting and mentoring orphans, periodic food distribution, early child education and development, scholarships to deserving students, technical skill training and micro-financing for marginalised communities.
This unique institution has about 140 students in its academy which is at present closed due to the lockdown.
“There are many schools mushrooming today but the main challenge is providing qualitative education. At VIA we have qualified and experienced teachers and apart from the regular syllabus we ensure that life skills are also imparted to ensure holistic development of our pupils” says Amir Abdi Alig, an educationist who is a director and advisory board member at VIA, explained that all their teachers are post graduates. “We want our students to have moral values, ethics alongside the regular education and become role models to others. We don’t want to create engineers, doctors and lawyers without any ethical values. ” he elaborated.
Busting the myths against Madrasa students Elite Muslims, general Muslims and others have pre-conceived notions about Madrasa students that they are educationally backward, conservative and poorly equipped to cope with the current modern times.
But at VIA, they are successfully busting all these myths about madrasa students by introducing world class education system with STEM lab wherein students develop passion to learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through hands-on learning and practical knowledge. At the same time STEM labs teach students about team work inducing innovative thinking. There is a library stocked with books on various genres and a playground where students are encouraged to indulge in sports activities. The hufaz also learn meditation, yoga, martial arts apart from indoor sports. “We have a curriculum that nurtures the body, mind and spirit with 15:1 student and teacher ratio. Our advisory board has educationists, IITians, IAS Officers who constantly monitor and safeguard the values of our academy which are honesty, excellence, social commitment, good ‘Niyat’and ‘Ehsan’ where a person’s inner faith is beautified and reflects in his/her actions and deeds,” explained Amir Abdi.
Continuing education during COVID times
Like all schools across the nation, VIA is also imparting online classes to its students due to the COVID pandemic from more than a year. The students have all gone to their homes.
The online classes were started right after 2 weeks of lockdown as the management did not want the children to lag behind. And this current academic year even admissions have taken place online. And the new batch also had online classes. “We saw the faces of the new students when the schools had reopened for a brief time. But we are back to online classes once again. We are constantly trying to imptove our methods in online teaching. These are challenging times but I think we shouldn’t put education on hold. Parents should enrol their children and encourage them to attend online classes”, said Amir Abdi sharing that all educational institutes are engaging their pupils through online classes. He feels that online education should be strengthened considering the current prevailing situation.
Selection of students
Not all the students here are Hafiz e Quran, 70% are hufaz while 30% are not hufaz but many parents prefer their children to study in an institute that has Islamic values and environment.
Those seeking admissions here have to write entrance tests at 3 levels. These tests are mainly to assess the knowledge levels and aptitudes of the boys.
Many students are weak in English and mathematics, so accordingly they will be coached so they can transit to the class per their age so they can easily cope with the mainstream education.
Right now there are 60 boys who are in class 12 who will go out of the academy to pursue the dream of their choice. Of the 60 boys nearly 35 of them want to pursue MBBS while others are keen on pursuing Engineering, civil services, computer sciences and law.
“There are also a few boys who want to become Aalims (Islamic scholars). We conduct psychometric tests when our pupils are in class 10 and this usually helps us in guiding them to do what they are best at” explained the director.
VIA also offers a range of subjects under humanities such as Geography, History, Urdu, English, Sociology, computer science and other subjects.
Support to poor students
It is a common knowledge that children studying in Madrasas are from poor families who cannot even afford 2 square meals per day. Although the fee is not much in itself for the entire year along with residential facilities, such students are sponsored by private donors.
There are at least 30 to 40 percent such children who hail from economically poor families. There is also a scholarship scheme at VIA for orphans, children of Imams and financially poor students set up by private trusts and foundations among which Manappat Foundation is one. The others are all those who can afford the fees.
At present VIA caters to male Hufaz e Quran but in the future they have plans to start a similar academy for girls (Hafiza) based on the success of the current one. And perhaps start more such academies in other parts of India in the years to come.
“We need influentials among the community to come and support us, I can confidently tell you that we will create a revolutionary transformation in society” said Ameer Ahmed Mannapat , the founder of VIA.