The NITI Aayog has suggested waiving fees for the madrasa students who opt for NIOS exams as it stressed on the need for “continued efforts” to modernise them to educationally empower the minority community. The policy think-tank has made these recommendations in its ‘Three-Year Action Agenda, 2017-18 to 2019-20’, released recently. On the modernisation of madrasas, the Aayog has recommended the government make “continued efforts” through curricular reforms and by providing facilities such as computers, labs, libraries, among others.
Madrasa is an Arabic word for an institute that provides education, either religious or mainstream. Muslims constitute the largest religious minority in the country and according to the agenda they are behind others in terms of economic, health and education parameters. “Continued efforts should be made to modernise them (madrasas) through curricular reforms and provision of facilities (e.g. computers, labs, libraries). “A fee-waiver could also be considered for madrasa students opting for examinations conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling,” the Aayog said in the agenda.
The government think-tank said there were a “large number of madrasas” in the country although the exact numbers are unclear. The NIOS, formerly known as National Open School (NOS), was established in 1989 as an autonomous body in pursuance of National Policy on Education 1986. It aims to provide relevant education up to pre-degree level through open and distance-learning system and cater to educational needs of the prioritised target groups.
On its part, the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has already announced its plans to offer mid-day meal at madrasas which impart mainstream education, including that of science. It has also planned to build toilets in one lakh in madrasas to strengthen Swachh Bharat Mission.