GUWAHATI, Dec 28 - The State government today introduced �The Assam Repealing Bill, 2020�, which seeks to repeal the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act, 1995, and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Re-Organization of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018, in the Assam Legislative Assembly.
Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma introduced the Bill in the Assembly on the first day of the Winter Session.
�With the aim to provide exposure towards more subjects and enable greater flexibility with more frequent formative assessment for learning, a policy decision has been taken by the Government of Assam to convert all the provincialised and private Madrassa educational institutions of the State into Upper Primary, High School, Higher Secondary School, etc., with effect from April 1, 2021,� as per the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill.
�After such conversion of the Madrassa institutions, there shall not be any change in the status, pay and allowances, service conditions, etc., of the teaching and non-teaching staff presently working in the Madrassa institutions, including their seniority. However, they will be governed by the Assam Secondary Education (Provincialised Schools) Service Rules, 2018,� it states.
�The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act, 1995, and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Re-Organization of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018, will become redundant,� it further adds.
The copy of the Bill also mentions that notwithstanding the repeal of these two Acts, �anything done or any action taken under the Acts, so repealed, before the date of the commencement of this Repealing Act, shall be deemed to have been validly done or taken under the repealed Acts.�
Legislators belonging to the Congress and AIUDF opposed introduction of the Bill.
AIUDF MLA Hafiz Bashir Ahmed demanded that the Bill be sent to a Select Committee of the Assembly for further consideration and consultation. He said 90 per cent of the syllabus in government-run madrassas is �non-religious� and added that the Bill, if passed, will impact thousands of students.
His party colleague, Rafiqul Islam said that instead of closing down the government-run Madrassas the State should make effort to modernize them and introduce higher secondary classes in such institutions.
Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed said that learning Arabic will open the doors for employment to the 3.4 crore people of Assam in the 52 countries of the Arab world.
�If necessary, you can discard religious education in such institutions while at the same time developing them as centres of excellence,� Ahmed said, adding that the State government should set up an Arabic language university in Assam.
Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha accused the government of attempting to create polarization in the society by bringing the Bill.
Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the Bill does not attempt to discourage or disallow �spiritual education�. He said the Constitution recognizes the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
�There is no attempt to regulate or close down private Madrassas. We only intend to repeal the two specific Acts related to Madrassa education,� he said, adding that teachers and staff of provincialised Madrassas will receive all benefits at par with government employees even after the institutions are converted into regular schools.
He also said that Arabic as a subject will continue to be taught at these institutions once they are converted into regular schools. He said that focus should be on teaching spoken Arabic instead of traditional Arabic so that people who go for employment or other purposes in Arab countries can benefit.
Sarma claimed that even renowned Islamic scholars have over time discouraged the practice of accepting government funding or other help for conducting theological education. �Is it sensible to spend government money for theological education? Tomorrow somebody will demand the same for studying the Bhagavad Gita or the Bible...,� he said.
�It is commendable that no Hindu or Christian members of this Assembly have over the decades even once demanded that the government should fund Hindu or Christian theological education,� he added.
The Legislative Assembly will take up the Bill for consideration and passing on December 30.