Madrasah Education system in West Bengal
The term ‘Madrasah’ is an Arabic word meaning educational institution or school imparting education to all irrespective of religion, caste, creed and gender. The idea that it imparts religious and theology based education to a particular religion is not true. In fact, the Madrasah education in West Bengal is fulfilling the constitutional commitment by providing access to free education up to secondary level for the most deprived people most of whom are first generation learners live in rural areas where avenues and opportunities are markedly limited. Most of the Madrasahs are situated in the remote rural areas of the state and they were founded with the initiative of community donations. In course of time, these Madrasahs were recognised by the Board and funded by the Government. West Bengal was the first state to offer recognition to Madrasahs and to convert the Board into statutory body in 1994. Recognizing the importance of Madrasah education in the state a new Department namely Minority Affairs and Madrasah Education along with a new Directorate of Madrasah Education has been created and is now functional.
A separate teaching & non-teaching staff recruitment commission namely Madrasah Service Commission has also been established.
Board has received recognition at national and international level. Recently the Hon’ble members of the Karnataka State Minorities Commission proposed that the West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education may recognize Madrasahs (without any aid ) in the state of Karnataka under Educational Model and Curriculum and syllabus of the West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education. Recently the Brookings Doha Centre, Washington has held up Bengal’s Madrasahs as models of secularism and also said that Pakistan, where the radical Islamisation is blamed a great deal on Madrasahs, should learn from such Madrasahs in West Bengal and emulate them. The study says “In other parts of the Muslim World, Madrasahs have served an appropriate educational purpose. For example in West Bengal, India, a survey of Islamic schools in January 2009 found that because of higher quality of education at Madrasahs, even Non-Muslims were actively enrolling in them”.
One is School Education system and other is Madrasah Education system. In Madrasah Education system two categories of institutions are functioning: one is recognized by the West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education and aided by the Govt. of West Bengal with entire liability of Salary, Retirement and other benefits (Gratuity, Pension, Leave etc.) of teaching and non-teaching staff. The Govt. also bear financial liabilities for infrastructure development, incentives and other facilities i.e. free text books, sanitation and drinking water etc.
The other category of Madrasahs are established, run and maintained by the individual or by community or by organization etc. and those are called Muktab or Khariji Madrasahs.
For the first , institutions recognized by Board two types of Madrasah Education are functioning in the state namely:
- the new scheme –High Madrasah Education System
- the old scheme-Senior Madrasah Education System