The government of the Indian state of Maharashtra has come under fire for leaving thousands of school children in limbo after declaring that Madrassas as “Non-Schools”.
Under the ruling, passed on Thursday, children in full-time education in Muslim religious schools will be classed as “uneducated in the State” unless those institutions “mainstream” subjects.
Eknath Khadse, the state minority affairs minister, schools that do not teach mainstream subjects fail to comply with education laws and were not eligible for state funds.
Social Justice Minister, Dilip Kamble told The Hindu newspaper: “A child, male or female, if found studying only in religious institute which does not take government grant and does not follow formal school syllabus, will be considered uneducated and out-of-school”.
The decision has come under fire, particularly from Muslim leaders.
Hyderbad MP Asaduddin Qwaisi cited the ruling as another attack on Muslims by the Hindu Nationalist BJP-led Maharashtra Government.
It follows a ban on the sale of beef – cows are considered sacred by Hindus but beef remains the only source of protein for Muslims as well as low-cast Hindus.
Mr Qwaisi also accused the government of being hypocritical after it refused to support reserved places for underprivileged Muslims in formal education and simultaneously attacked Madrassas that catered to only 2 per cent of the Muslim minority.
He added that aside from Quranic studies, Madrassas also taught maths and science.
However, the BJP government hit back saying that they are merely trying to implement India’s Right to Education Act.
BJP MP Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “Religious education alone cannot help these boys and girls to join the mainstream of progress.”