The Assam government will drop the word ''maktab'' (Islamic religious studies) from the names of 63 state and state-aided primary schools with immediate effect, Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.
The state government's decision comes close on the heels of its step to convert the state-run madrasas and Sanskrit ''tols'' (ashrams teaching Sanskrit and religious scriptures) into higher secondary schools.
Mr Sarma said schools with names, including the word ''maktab'', will, however, retain the remaining part of their names.
Only the ''maktab'' word will be removed from the names of schools, he said, adding that it created problems for students who, after completing their education in primary schools, seek admission in high schools.
"The students from such schools are questioned about their abilities to cope with studies at the high schools, where there are no religious studies that they had at the primary level", the state finance minister said.
Mr Sarma said the madrasas and Sanskrit ''tols'' had been already informed about the government's decision to convert them into higher secondary schools and the process, which will be initiated after the presentation of the state budget, was expected to be completed by August.
The minister said the Assam government would spend Rs 710 crore for infrastructure development at religious places, including roads leading to them, under its ''Assam Darshan'' scheme.
An amount of Rs 10 lakh will be given to 915 religious institutions or places of spiritual tourism, including 459 temples, 186 ''satras'' (Vaishnav monasteries), 123 namghars (prayer and community halls), 47 mosques and 27 churches, Sarma said.
The government will also give an additional Rs 2 lakh to ''devalayas'' or places of worship, for which lands were given by the erstwhile Ahom rulers. These lands were later returned to the government, which paid an annual annuity to the committees.
"The state government has decided to increase the amount of annuity by Rs 2 lakh to 74 ''devalayas''", Mr Sarma said.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will formally hand over these grants to representatives of these religious institutions at a function in Guwahati on Monday.
In the second phase of ''Assam Darshan'', the government will promote 316 tourist destinations and picnic spots. The work will be implemented by the tourism department, the minister added.