"The Modi government claims to modernise madrasas across the country but on the ground, they do not want to make actual changes. It has been more than 4 years that we haven't received our salaries and teachers are on the verge of starvation. In this condition when the government should understand our pain, they have released our salaries for only twenty-two and a half days. Isn’t this a mockery of our work?” asked Naved Alam who teaches computers and science at the Madrasa Darul Uloom Hussainia, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
After massive protest demonstrations from Lucknow to Delhi, teachers of UP’s madrasas – which the government is ‘modernising’ – were paid salary for the month of April 2016.
According to the order issued on August 28, 474 modernised teachers from 160 madrasas will be given salaries. The Masters/ B.Ed teachers will get Rs 9,000 and the graduate teachers will get Rs 4,500. After working for four years, the payment of salaries for only 22 and a half days raises several concerns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claim of empowering Muslims.
Naved further added, "If Modi government is really concerned for modernisation of madrasas then why the government has squeezed the funding. The Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM), which comes under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) was established in 1993-94. It has been more than 24 years but this scheme has not been made permanent yet. Following this attitude of the government towards teachers and their pending salaries, several teachers have left the job after serving for 16-17 years.”
Also read: Modi's Madrasa Modernisation Push: Over 25,000 Teachers in UP Not Paid Central Salaries Since 2016
"Several teachers, however, have been regularly taking classes in the schools without salary till now. We go to the madrasas every day out of fear that our manager will hire somebody else. We urge the government to shut this SPQEM scheme so that the future generation, who dream of government jobs in the madrasas, do not have to face the disappointment of their dreams shattering," he told NewsClick.
On June 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had 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 had said.
The Centre’s decision to connect madrasas to mainstream education had come in for appreciation from several Muslim clerics across the country, who welcomed the move as a much-needed step for the upliftment of minorities. However, there has been development ever since, while madrasa teachers continue to struggle for their survival.
Scheme Budget Decreased Under Modi Government
The national president of All India Madrasa Modernisation Teachers’ Association (MMTA), Muslim Raza who also teaches at a madrasa in Ghazipur told NewsClick, "The central government did not release any salary now. The salary for 22 and a half days was sent by the government in 2015-16 itself, but the state government did not sanction the amount. Since we were demanding our salaries for a long time, the state government calculated the amount and then released this amount. The Modi government did not release any fund since 2016. A total of Rs 256 crore is needed for the payment of the teachers for a year in Uttar Pradesh.”
He said that the United Progressive Alliance government led by Manmohan Singh had increased the budget consistently by Rs 50 crore every year. “In 2008-2009, the budget for the scheme was 125 crore. In 2015-16, the budget was Rs 375 crore. Suddenly, however, the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Narendra Modi has cut down the budget to just Rs 120 crore,” he says, adding, “Even that amount was never released.”
According to the data of the UP Minorities' Welfare Department, salaries amounting to Rs 800 crore are pending with the Centre.
Teachers Have Lost Hope, Quit Jobs
Raza further alleged, "At least 17 people have died due to financial crisis but still the government is not paying any heed to us. This is the reason that a large number of teachers are quitting their jobs. Forget about Modi's madrasa modernisation claims, the ground reality is that a large number of madrasas have been shut down. The people have lost the courage to fight against the government for their rights so they are quitting jobs."
Also read: Celebrate I-Day With Pomp, Send Report in One Week: UP Govt to Madrasas
Badre Alam, the state coordinator of All India Madrasa Modernisation Teachers’ Association (MMTA) teaches at Buxipur madrasa in Gorakhpur. He told NewsClick, "We have lost all faith in the government as they are discriminating us because we are Muslims. There are Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBV) running across the state under the central government and the teachers in those schools are getting salaries on time.”
"4 saal ki salary bakaya hai aur 22 din ki salary di hai, ye kya hai (Four years salary is outstanding and government is making fun of us by giving twenty-two days salary). Earlier government had introduced the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus and now they have announced the introduction of National Cadet Corps (NCC) and Scout training in madrasas. The government is only ordering but have forgotten the fact that those teachers who are being also need salaries to survive," he further added.
NewsClick had earlier reported on how madrasas teachers are struggling for their survival. They are being forced to take up other jobs like weaving rugs and driving rickshaws to keep their families afloat. One of the teachers has a four-year old child, who is a Thalassemia patient and has to undergo blood transfusion thrice in two months. He said, “The treatment requires at least Rs 3,000 but I do not have money for the treatment.”
NewsClick made several attempts to contact Uttar Pradesh Minority Welfare minister Nand Gopal ‘Nandi’ to understand the reason for pending salaries but he didn't respond.