Madrasas have often been criticized for not providing competitive education. Early on, Modi identified lack of education/skills as impediments to Muslim youth's success.
So, what is Modi's government doing to modernize madrasas?
Is Modi modernizing Indian madrasas?
Statistically, how do Muslims fare in terms of education?
As per the 2011 Census, at 42.7%, Muslims have the highest number of illiterate population. Moreover, though Muslims comprise 14% of India's population, only 4.4% students enroll for higher education. Economic disadvantages paired with poor quality education have led to these abysmal numbers.
Several governments have made efforts to modernize Muslim education
Irrespective of the party in power, the government's solution to the high Muslim illiteracy problem has always been madrasas' modernization.
After Babri Masjid demolition, to assuage feelings of Muslims, then-PM PV Narasimha Rao accorded special grants to madrasas for "learning Urdu through computers."
In 1998, the NDA government came up with the "Area Intensive Madrasa Modernization Programme."
However, these efforts led to minimal changes.
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What is the Modi government doing?
Soon after Modi came to power, the 'Nai Manzil' scheme was launched. This entailed introducing science, computers, mathematics and English in madrasas. It also provides trade-based skills with certification allowing youth to seek employment in the organized sector.
In UP, which has 20% Muslim population, CM Yogi Adityanath introduced NCERT books in madrasas; science and mathematics were made compulsory at the intermediate level.
Modi's efforts as Gujarat CM did yield results
As Gujarat CM, Modi recognized the necessity of modernizing Muslim education for their upliftment.
In 2002, there were barely 200 Muslim-run educational institutions in Gujarat; now, there are about 800. Gujarat's Muslims have a literacy rate of 80.80%, way above the national average.
Similarly, as he alleviated Muslim education in Gujarat, his efforts on the national level have also yielded results, unlike previous governments'.
Now, as PM, Modi's efforts are showing results
With PM Modi at the helm, more than 50L Muslims have received employment due to 'Nai Manzil' and other skill development programmes like 'Gharib Nawaz Skill Development Scheme', 'Seekho aur Kamao' in the last 3 years.
Further, schools, degree colleges, hostels and industrial training institutes have been constructed in minority-concentrated areas; 269 multi-purpose community centres and 39 gurukul-type residential schools have been developed.
Meanwhile, what do critics have to say?
Critics argue that as per 2006 Sachar committee report, only 4% students go to madrasas. Thus, instead of modernizing madrasas, focus should be on opening regular schools in Muslim-dominated areas.
Others contend that under the "modernization" garb, madrasas are denied autonomy and independence.
However, supporters argue that modernization will improve teachers' salaries, teaching quality and open opportunities of higher education and employment.
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