The Maharashtra government has said Madrasas or schools for Islamic instruction, and any other institutions that do not offer formal education, will not be recognised as schools and will not be eligible for state funding until they teach subjects like Science, Math and Social Sciences.
"Those schools which do not follow the curriculum approved by the state government will not be recognised as schools. Therefore, children studying in Madrasas or in any other institutions based only on religious studies will not be counted among school students," said Dilip Kamble, Minister of State for Minority Affairs.
He also said that the Maharashtra government plans to conduct a survey on Saturday for a head count of students in the state who are being taught in the informal education sector. These students will be marked as "out of school."
The aim of the exercise, Mr Kamble said, is to ensure such students can be "included in the mainstream."
The BJP-led state government had earlier this month asked Madrasas in the state to include those subjects in their curriculum to continue getting government funds. There are about 1.5 lakh students enrolled in 1900 madrasas in the state.
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the BJP explained, "The education being provided by Madrasas is good, while some of them are incorporating mainstream education. Some of the Madrasas which don't have the means to do so, they need to be encouraged and given help."
"It is ill-designed and ill-timed, I don't know why they are doing it," said Kamal Farooqui of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Madrasas, he said, are part of formal education and their students get direct admission to universities.
The Nationalist Congress Party or NCP's Nawab Malik criticised the state government for "ignoring Madrasa modernisation, whether it is giving salaries to their teachers for English, Marathi and Mathematics or incorporating central schemes."
The previous Congress-NCP government had launched a "Madrasa modernisation scheme" in 2013, but that dispensation too did not recognise them as schools.