Maulana Wali Rahmani is the Chairman of Madrasa Modernisation Committee set up by the Ministry of HRD. This interview was conducted by Anjum Usmani in Urdu. Translated in English by Tarique Anwar of TwoCircles.net
Q: Being the Chairman of Madrasa Modernisation Committee of Government of India what is your opinion on management of madrasas and its curriculum?
A: Each madrasa should become a registered organization or unregistered madrasas should become affiliated with a registered institution. As I see things developing in future, this is essential.
Q: What do you mean when you say madrasas should become registered organization?
A: According to me registered organization means that the constitution of madrasa should be registered under the Trust Act, name and address of members should be clear and election of its members should also be transparent. There should be a constitution and guiding principles. There should be a regular audit of accounts by a chartered accountant.
Q: Will it not be justified that madrasas got recognized by Madrasa Board?
A: The experience of Madrasa Boards has been a bitter one. Madrasa Board was established under an act in our state Bihar and is well managed officially and legally but in thirty years the education in the madrasa running under the board has remained only in name. These institutions have been reduced to just becoming centres for passing the examination. There are many other problems that I don't want to go into. It is said that Madrasa Board is an independent and autonomous organization but when the government will constitute it and its officers will be government servant then the board will be as autonomous as it is in Bihar. I am giving you two examples of Bihar then the matter will be clearer. If there is any controversy on the decision of Chairman of the board then the person/s concerned can appeal to the government against this decision. In Bihar the Deputy Director takes up matters like this and gives his decision. Which kind of self governance is it! To bring revolutionary change in madrasas under the Board, the then Chief Minister formed a syllabus committee which had eleven members. There was not a single aalim (religious scholar) among them and five of them were such who had didn't even have knowledge of Urdu, let alone Arabic. I opposed and cried on this matter. Some ulema were invited as special guests in few of these meetings. These English knowing people have framed the syllabus for madrasas which is the syllabus in Board affiliated madrasas with some changes.
Q: Then how will you do modernization of madrasas?
A: Modernisation means to take steps towards excellence. To create excellence in a law college would not mean that the students of law got sit in chemistry laboratory. It will not be excellence for medical students to include history in their syllabus. In the same way it is also not excellence for madrasa students that they get education of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Madrasas are basically for religious education. If its students are skilled in religious education then it will be excellence for them.
It should also be remembered that madrasas in India are established under article 13, 14, 29 and 30 (fundamental rights) of Indian constitution and also from this point of view they should not be interfered with. Efforts should be made to improve madrasa education and its pass outs should be provided opportunities that after graduation or within their course if they want further education other than religious education then there are mechanism to do that.
Q: Is there any initiative in this field?
A: Several universities have opened their door to madrasa graduates. We are doing our best in this regard but as you know in rusted locks even the right key takes time to work.
One good initiative is that a long bilateral talk between Madrasa Modernisation Committee and National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has resulted in a policy by NIOS that the student of any reputed madrasa can get enrolled in class 10th in NIOS and can take the examination. Such students will have to pass in five papers in which two will be language papers. The language papers will include 12 regional languages other than Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Hindi and English. Rest three papers will be opted from History, Geography, Physiology, Sociology, Economics, Political Science, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics etc. The students can take examination of one or two papers after each six months or all five at the same time. There will be given five tries to clear each paper. If student want he can keep a trade recognized by NIOS as a paper. For instance with History, Political Science he can keep any one among these trades -Computer Application, typing (Urdu/Hindi/English), Carpentry, Solar Energy, Technician, Laundry Service, Welding Technology, Bakery, Biogas etc. as a subject. In this way a student can pass class 10th before completion of madrasa education and if he wants he can also do Senior Secondary (+2) during madrasa education.
I think that a wide scope in future is being provided with the collaboration of NIOS and doors of the universities are opening for ulemas. Adopting this system madrasa student can choose his field of interest.
Q: What are the languages that NIOS is publishing its text books?
A: Books up to class 10th are printed in several languages including Urdu. Therefore, there is a proper arrangement so that madrasa students do not face any problem.
Books of Senior Secondary classes are being publishied in Urdu and are hoped that they will reach in different parts of the country by the end of this month. Madrasa authorities and students are requested to take advantage of this new opportunity.