New Delhi: The Narendra Modi-led Union government has decided to undertake modernisation of madrasas, including training of teachers in subjects like mathematics English, science and computers, so that students can be imparted mainstream education. Ironically, though, over 25,550 teachers of 8,554 government-recognised madrasas in Uttar Pradesh are still awaiting payment of salaries pending for the past three and half years. The teachers, who get salaries both from the Centre as well as the state government, say the Centre has not released funds since 2016 while the UP government has not paid its share since the past four months.
As per recent data of the UP Minorities' Welfare Department, salaries amounting to Rs 551 crore are pending with the Centre and Rs 11 crore is stuck with state government. According to the data, out of 25,550 teachers, as many as 9,946 teachers are graduates and 15,605 are post-graduates with Bachelor’s in education.
WHAT IS SPQEM?
The Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM) comes under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) and aims to provide "modern, quality education" in every madrasa across the India. Under the scheme, people with graduation or a post-graduation degrees were hired to teach math, science, English and computers in madrasas.
However, the teachers posted in madrasas across UP are struggling to get their pending salaries since 2016.
The state coordinator of All India Madrasa Modernisation Teachers Association (MMTA) Badre Alam, told Newsclick that "this scheme was launched in 1993-94 by the late HRD minister,r Arjun Singh, keeping in mind the overall modernisation of madrasas, not just the teaching of Urdu, English and science”. He said that time only two teachers were posted in a madrasa and their monthly allowance was Rs 2,250. There were only 750 madrasas across UP then, he said, adding that “in 2000, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at the Centre increased the strength to two more teachers and the salaries were fixed at Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 a month for graduates and post-graduates, respectively.”
Alam said under the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government, when the teachers hit the roads, protesting that it was difficult to sustain themselves with such a low amount at a time when inflation was high, the government increased the amount to Rs 6,000 and Rs 12,000 per month for graduates and post-graduation, respectively. “But since the Narendra Modi government came to power, not a single penny has been increased despite inflation at an all-time high,” he said, adding that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has instead removed a teacher from every madrasa. Against four earlier, there are now only three teachers posted in every madrasa who teach all subjects."
Lamenting the approach of the Adityanath-led government in UP, Alam pointed out that "In addition, since 2016, when Akhilesh Yadav was in power in the state, they used to pay Rs, 2000 per month to graduates and Rs 3,000 per month to post-graduate teachers, but since four months our salaries have not been paid by the state government.”
DON'T HAVE MONEY FOR TREATMENT
With salaries still pending, life has become tough for madrasa teachers in the state. Asif Mahmood, who teaches math and computers at M Fatima Girls School in Gorakhpur, told Newsclick: "My four-year-old child is a Thalassemia patient and has to undergo blood transfusion thrice in two months, which requires at least Rs 3,000. Over the past 39 months (since 2016), the Centre has not released our salaries and the state government, too, is not paying our salaries since four months.”
He said he spends Rs 4,000-5,000 on his child and family expenses each month, for which he borrows money from friends and relatives. “But, how long will this continue? I also give tuitions to students to earn but now we are left with no hope of earning from the madrasa and will have to do something else for survival," said Mahmood.
He said a similar situation prevailed during the Congress-led regime at the Centre, but they used to get salaries after a gap of three to six months. However, since 2016, the teachers have not received their salaries from the Centre.
UNPAID MADRASA TEACHERS
Naved Alam, who was appointed to teach mathematics but due to lack of teachers, he now teaches computers and science as well at Madrasa Darul Uloom Hussainia, Gorakhpur, said that the condition of madrasa teachers is pathetic. "Since long we hav been demanding appointment as permanent teachers. But, now we are not even getting salaries since the past three years, and four months. Earlier, we used to receive NCERT books for children. Now, despite repeatedly asking, we have not received any book so far.”
He said madrasas received computers by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee “but since then none of the governments have appointed a computer teacher, so I have to teach this subject too with my basic knowledge. I do not know how the government plans to modernise madrasas."
When asked for his reaction to PM Modi’s pushing for modernising madrasas across the country, Naved Alam said, "In 2014, when he came to power, he had said the same thing. He has only repeated the same statement in 2019. His 2014 promise was not fulfilled as not a single madrasa was modernised in five years. So, there is no hope in this term too”.
MODI'S MADRASA MODERNISATION PUSH
On June 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that madrasas across the country would be connected with mainstream education for the betterment of children studying in the Islamic seminaries. The gap between mainstream school education and the madrasa school system should end, he said.
Briefing the media later, Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said that madrasa teachers from across India would be given training in mainstream subjects such as English, Hindi, math, science and computers so that they can train their students in madrasas. This programme will be launched next month, he said.
But consider this: In 2014, PM Modi said that Muslims should hold Quran in one hand and computer in the other, indicating that his government was concerned about the empowerment of Muslims. Fast forward five years, the Modi government is back in power at the Centre but madrasa teachers are struggling to survive as the government had failed to keep its promises.