As many as 21,000 teachers of various subjects in madrasas (Muslim religious schools) have stopped getting paid in Uttar Pradesh, and they could lose their jobs altogether, an official told Reuters on Thursday, January 11.
The development comes following the conversion of hundreds of madrassas into conventional schools in the northeastern state of Assam. Despite protests from the Opposition and minority groups, Uttar Pradesh chief minister went ahead with the move and called for all states to put a halt on funding madrasas.
Chief of Uttar Pradesh’s Madrassa Education Board, Iftikhar Ahmad Javed, said, “Over 21,000 teachers will lose their jobs. Muslim students and teachers will bet set back by 30 years.”
Citing a report from Human Rights Watch, Reuters reported, “Muslims account for about 14 percent of India’s population of nearly 1.42 billion, and they make up nearly a fifth of the population of Uttar Pradesh. And yet, the nationalist parties have threatened and harassed Muslim and other religious minorities with impunity under Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party, however, denies the accusations.”
As per the reports, the government of India stopped funding the initiative called the Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madrassas in March 2022.
Reuters claimed that it reviewed the document from the Ministry of Minority Affairs that showed Modi’s government had not approved any fresh proposals from the states under the said programme between the 2017–2018 and 2020–2021 fiscal years before closing it altogether.
The document did not reveal the reason behind putting a halt to funding the programme. However, a government official stated that it could be because a 2009 law ensuring compulsory education for children covers regular government schools.
Meanwhile, the government data showed that over 70,000 madrassas were financially covered in the first six years of the programme, initiated in 2009/2010 when the Opposition Congress was in power.
A member of the government panel on minority educational institutions, Javed Akhtar, said that the programme was essential and benefited Muslim children, and it should be revived.
“Even the Prime Minister wants children to have both Islamic and modern education,” Javed told Reuters. “I am already talking to officials to see that the scheme is retained.”
Uttar Pradesh, which is also India’s most populous state, would pay Rs 3,000 monthly to the teachers of various subjects including science, mathematics, social studies, English, and Hindi from its own budget. Moreover, the teachers used to get up to Rs 12,000 from the federal government as well.
“We do not have any other job, and I am too old to get another one,” a Madrassa teacher expressed concern.