Majority of madrasas reject government curriculum


Himalayan News Service

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A majority of madrasas--traditional Muslim schools--have refused to adopt the uniform curriculum introduced by the government. Following a series of consultations with Muslim scholars, the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) had developed a common curriculum for all madrasas a year ago as part of the government´s plan to bring all madrasas into mainstream schooling.

However, only a section of madrasas registered with District Education Offices (DEOs) have adopted the CDC-prepared curriculum.

Madrasa operators say they rejected the CDC-prepared curriculum as “it contains more texts unrelated to social and religious aspects of Islam”. Apart from English, Nepali and Math, the CDC-prepared curriculum incorporates subjects that deal with Muslim religious and social education and Urdu-Arabic language.

"We want more subjects about the Quran," says Mobin Khan, Vice President of Imam Ahmed Bin Hambal, an Islamic educational organization. He further said, "Altogether 27 madrasas are associated with our organization and none of them are registered at the DEO. They have not adopted the CDC-prepared curriculum as it is not madrasa-friendly."

Zaheed Pervej, who has conducted a number of researches about madrasas for the Research Center for Educational Innovation and Development (CERDI) of the Tribhuvan University (TU), says, "Even after the CDC developed a separate curriculum, there is no uniformity in subjects taught at different Madrasas. Only the DEO-registered madrasas seem to have adopted the CDC-prepared curriculum."

The problem is the number of DEO-registered madrasas is very low. According to Pervej, over 4,000 madrasas are operating in Nepal. However, only one fourth of them are registered with the DEOs so far. The Department of Education (DoE) had made it mandatory for all madrasas to get themselves registered at the DEOs in 2002 but, after more than a decade, the number of the DEO-registered Madrasas is still very insignificant.

"Some madrasas are more than 100 years old. Some are functioning like universities. But they are yet to be registered," says Nasir Siddiqi, spokesperson of Jamiat-E-Olemaye, Nepal, a Muslim organization.

Madrasa operators accuse the CDC of not consulting real Muslim teachers. "The CDC consulted officials of Madrasa Management Board. But the board officials are more like politicians than experts on Muslim education," says Khan.

"They could not help the CDC develop a curriculum that is applicable in all madrasas."

Khagraj Baral, director of the CDC, says, "Though the members of Madrasa Management Board are politically appointed, they are experts on madrasas. We have consulted them properly." 

(Source: Republica Nepal, compiled and written by OM Astha Rai)