August 29, 2010

Bengal madrasah with more Hindu students draws eyes, President’s award for teacher

By Shiv Sahay Singh

Indian Express, Posted online: Thu Aug 26 2010, 01:56 hrs

Kolkata:  A teacher in West Bengal who has enrolled more Hindu students than Muslims in his madrasa is to receive the national award from President Pratibha Patil this Teachers’ Day.

Anwar Hossain, the headmaster of Orgram Chatuspalli High Madrasah in Burdwan district, will be among the 12 teachers from the state who will receive the award at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

Back in 1977, when Hossain joined the madrasa, it had just 34 students. Slowly the number increased and the institute drew more Hindu students. Today, it has about 64 per cent Hindu students.
“The award, I hope, will do away with the false notion about madrasas in our country,” Hossain told The Indian Express. “Madrasas are centres of learning where all sorts of education — computer education and English education  is being provided along with religious education.”

Hossain (56), says the madrasa drew more students from other communities because the institution provided help to students who had no access to education and did not have any means to support their education.

“We went from village to village and spoke to parents who could not afford a single rupee to educate their children. We did not charge any fees and started giving free books.”

Even today, all books till class X are given free of cost. And the teachers of this madrasa move across villages to identify the children who are out of school or who have dropped out due to financial constraints, said Hossain, who plans to donate his prize money to the madrasa.

“When students get support for their education, they don’t mind studying two extra subjects Arabic and Islam Parichay along with other regular subjects,” he added.

When The Indian Express first reported about the madrasa on January 19, 2009, it had 883 students of whom 555 were Hindus. Now the madrasa has been upgraded to higher secondary level and has 1,078 students studying in science and humanities streams. Even now, the number of non-Muslim students has remained 64 per cent.

“The headmaster (of the madrasa) has a big role in the making of the institution,” said Dibyen Mukherjee, the Director of School Education, West Bengal.
Abdus Sattar, Minister for Minority Development and Welfare and Madrasah Education, said the selection of Hossain for the President’s award points to the efforts made by the state government to modernise madrasas. “We have been able to provide a system where all communities can get education together,” he said.

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