Rural Madrassa Offers Only Option to Some Hindu Students

March 31, 2006

Source: BBC News

On March 31, 2006 BBC News reported, "Narapatipara High Madrassa in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal is a double storied brick building with a large playground. It is surrounded by paddy fields and hectares of green farmland. Its 320 pupils, many of them tribal children and first generation learners, come from the surrounding, largely poor, district of Nadia. The girls outnumber boys and they are taught together in classrooms with their rickety wooden tables and benches... The headmaster, Mohammad Saffar Ali Mondal says the pupils at Narapatipara High Madrassa are taught in exactly the same way as they are at any other secondary school in West Bengal. 'They have the same syllabus, the same curriculum, the same management , the same appointment of teachers, both Hindus and Muslims, same pensions, benefits and pay. Everything is the same.' 'There is an emphasis on Islamic studies in senior madrassas but not in junior high and high madrassas like ours,' Mr Mondal says... in West Bengal some 40,000 Hindus study in them [madrassas] and they are co-educational, in fact there are more girls than boys in some classrooms. The West Bengal Board of Madrassa Education (WBBME) controls and supervises these madrassas and works according to the guidelines set by the state's school education department. Abdus Sattar, the president of WBBME, says they fulfill the demand of poor, rural and backward communities where there is no school. 'As for the secular nature of education... there's been a long tradition in the state for such education', he says."