Sibal trying for consensus on madrassa reforms

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New Delhi:  As part of his education reforms, one of the things HRD minister Kapil Sibal moved fast on was to work on getting a national board to modernise education in madrasas.

After getting it cleared by the Central Advisory board of Education last month, he met Muslim MPs from political parties to work on a consensus. But some religious concerns remain.

A tough balancing act for the HRD minister - three years after his predecessor, Arjun Singh, proposed to overhaul madrasa education, Kapil Sibal tried to build consensus among members of parliament before the government introduces the bill.

"We are in no hurry. I conveyed this to the MPs also. We are in no hurry either to push it forward or to interfere with theological teachings. We want a consensus first and foremost," said Kapil Sibal, HRD minister.

The draft bill says a national board will evaluate the curriculum once in five years. Many feel this could lead to interference. Majority of the MPs who came for the meeting also felt that the proposed board does not fully represent the community.

"We consider the formation of the madarsa board an interference. No such board is needed. Only 5 per cent Muslim children go to madarsas. Why is the government concerned about only these 5 percent Muslim children, it should think of the other 95 per cent and introduce schemes like scholarships for these students," said Maulana Khalid Rashid, Sunni cleric.

The bill was prepared on the Sachhar Committee's recommendations to modernise education for Muslim children. Some of the MPs want concepts like curriculum and training to be more clearly defined in the bill. The minister has now asked them to give their suggestions within a month before the reworked draft bill is taken to the ulemas for consensus. 

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