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After years of resistance, why it’s time for Madrasas to go modern

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By Nithin Sridhar

Madrasas and other institutions that do not teach subjects like Math and Science will not be recognized as formal schools, according to the latest decision taken by Maharashtra government. Further, they will not receive state funding and the students in them will be marked as “out of school”. Hence, around 1.5 lakh students enrolled in 1889 registered Madrasas will stand to be marked as being “out of school”.

Though the Minister of State for Minority Affairs, Mr. Kamble has clarified that the measure is aimed to make sure that such students can be included into mainstream, it has been heavily criticized by Muslim leaders and opposition parties. Kamal Farooqui of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has been quoted as saying- “It is ill-designed and ill-timed, I don’t know why they are doing it.”

But what is being ignored by all the critics of the decision is the fact that without imparting education in crucial subjects like Math, Science, Social Studies, Computers, and English, no modernization is possible.

What are Madrasas?

Madrasas are centres of Islamic learning. Although some Madrasas teach secular subjects like logic, language (Arabic through the medium of Urdu), Islamic history and geography, in general, they have a religion-based curriculum focusing on the Quran and other Islamic texts.

They do not train students in modern science, technology and value systems. The major difference between Madrasas and regular schools is that the education imparted in Madrasas are not enough to qualify the students for employment in modern-day offices.

In 2013, Maharashtra government had launched Dr. Zakir Hussain Madrasa Modernization Scheme, under which the government will fund various activities like building libraries, hostels etc. of those Madrasas that would enroll with the scheme.

In return, these Madrasas were asked to teach Math, Science, Languages and Social Sciences. But, only 556 Madrasas availed this scheme in 2014-15. Further, the religious clerics raise the issue of government interference, every-time there is an attempt at introducing Madrasa modernization schemes be it in the states or at the centre. This clearly depicts the reluctance of Madrasas to modernize themselves and mainstream their students.

Why is modernization necessary?

Madrasas in India originated during Delhi Sultanate. It was primarily a medium to equip the youth for administrative services of the Sultanate. Since the cessation of Muslim rule in India, graduates from Madrasas largely remain unemployed except for those few who continue studies in departments of Islamic studies, Arabic or Urdu in some of the modern Indian universities. Many of the Madrasa students find it difficult to get into higher education because of the lack of education in Math and Science. This directly contributes towards poverty prevalent among various Muslim communities.

In his report regarding introduction of modern education in Madrasas, Justice M.S.A.Siddiqui notes- “Most of the Madarsas are averse to the introduction of modern education. Some of the books taught in this system are antiquated and others have become irrelevant to the global society we live in. The curriculum of majority of Madarsas is exclusivist, which could give rise to fundamentalist tendencies among the students. It is a welcome trend, however, that some of the Madarsas have introduced modern education complemented with religious education.

In majority of these Madarsas, though, the students have no access to modern secular education. This not only breeds a sense of alienation, but also isolates them from the inclusive society that India is. General secular education will open the doors of perception and act as the natural light of mind for our people to live pro-actively in the total contest. If modern education is introduced in these Madarsas, it will certainly create conditions for promoting modern and secular outlook among students and empower them to participate as equal partners in an inclusive society.”

Justice Siddiqui further points out that the managers of Madrasas are completely confused regarding the objectives of Madrasa teachings. The curriculum prescribed in the Madrasas are neither uniform nor scientific. He cautions that-“What students learn in Madarsas is very largely based on religious instructions that fail to equip them with the skills required today. Muslims in India must realize that they are actually scraping the bottom of the education barrel in an era of internationalism.”

“Dar-ul-Uloom, Deoband” and “Dar-ul-Uloom Nadwat-ul Ulama, Lucknow” are two of the premier institutes of Islamic learning in India. They have a comprehensive syllabus that covers wide range of topics. The Nadwat-ul-Ulama of Lucknow also brought about certain far-reaching changes in the traditional curriculum of the Qaumi Madrasas. The primary five years cover complete primary education as prescribed for general schools along with giving religious lessons.

But, these changes are only limited to famous and well established Madrasas. A large number of Madrasas are neither affiliated to the Central Board nor registered with the state government. According to Maharashtra government’s data, only 1889 Madrasas are present in Maharashtra. But, Maulana Syed Athar Ali, a Muslim Personal Law Board member, has been quoted as saying that there are7000 Madrasas in Maharashtra.

It means that more than half of the Madrasas in Maharashtra function independently and have their own syllabus giving more importance to Islamic subjects and in some cases completely ignoring secular subjects. This has resulted in alienation and further deprivation of Muslim students who study in these Madrasas.

Therefore, it becomes very vital to bring about modernization of Madrasas for the benefit of the Muslim population of India.

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Tech Giant Apple Empowering Students in Burhanpur Pen Success on iPads

Apple Teacher is a free online professional learning programme designed to support and celebrate the great work of teachers around the world

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

BY NISHANT ARORA 

Frequented by historians and art lovers seeking solace in its rich past, another transformation, albeit quietly, is taking place in the city of Burhanpur and this time, Cupertino-based tech giant Apple is empowering talented kids at the Macro Vision Academy (MVA) to find their place in the fast-changing world.

One of the handful schools in India that has employed iPads and Mac desktops for imparting education, the CBSE-affiliated, day-cum-residential school has customised Apple products to improve students’ results and rankings – thus earning the tag of ‘Apple Distinguished School’ (ADS) for the second time in a row.

Worldwide, there are 470 ADSs in 34 countries and four are in India. Apple Distinguished Schools share their achievements by collaborating with Apple teams to host on-site Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) visits. The educators showcase best practices for using iPad, Mac, apps, multi-touch books and other digital materials to create powerful learning experiences.

At the Academy which is touted as the complete Gurukul, students are creating world-class apps while teachers are busy imparting lessons via Apple TVs in classrooms as students deploy iPads at the same time to imbibe real-time learning, including music on iPad.

The benefits of learning on iPads – nearly all students at the Academy are equipped with iPads and the Academy has over 150 top-of-the-line iMacs at its fully-equipped iMac Lab — are numerous: Learn and revise on the go, lesser books to carry, analytical performance reports to improve and track the growth, digitised voice notes at a secured Wi-Fi campus, and much more.

Today, the MVA students are working at Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, Uber, IBM, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Infosys, Microsoft, Adobe, and several other top-notch firms. They have got admissions to prestigious universities like Penn State University, The State University of New York and all IITs.

Apple iPad in frame
Apple iPad. Wikimedia Commons

According to Anand Prakash Chouksey, Director, MVA, iPads and iMacs are part of students’ everyday life at Macrovision.

“The devices help teachers connect with students in a seamless way. The digital approach has increased kids’ interest in studies and their confidence levels have gone up too. They think in a more creative manner while looking at the same old curriculum. This has increased parents’ confidence too,” Chouksey told IANS during the campus visit.

Apple School Manager at the premises is a simple, web-based portal for IT administrators to manage people, devices, and content all from one place. There is a redesigned user interface, more powerful ways to manage bulk activities, and greater control over accounts and classes.

“With the help of Apple School Manager, installing, maintaining and integration of 2,500 iPads was simple and did not incur any extra cost. It also gave us the flexibility to customize and implement policies as per our school needs,” informed Vijay Sukhwani who takes care of the entire Apple ecosystem at the campus.

Apple Classroom app turns iPads and Macs into powerful teaching assistants. The app also makes it easy to share information and send and receive files with the entire class and individual students using AirDrop, or show student work on the big screen.

All Apple products are built with an integrated approach to privacy and security and providing schools with devices, apps, and services that keep students’ work and personal information secure.

With Managed Apple IDs, the school controls student information and can choose to enable or disable apps and services such as iMessage, FaceTime or student progress reporting with the Schoolwork app.

Apple iPad
At the Academy which is touted as the complete Gurukul, students are creating world-class apps while teachers are busy imparting lessons via Apple TVs in classrooms as students deploy iPads at the same time to imbibe real-time learning, including music on iPad. IANS

Jay Firke from the school who attended Apple’s annual flagship Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, last year is super excited.

“I have created an e-portfolio app wherein class teachers can fill the students’ report about their skills and educational topics. The app currently works on school Wi-Fi,” Firke told IANS.

“I have also worked on an iOS school app which is made with Swift 4.1. This app includes all our school details,” he added, as his team members showcased some of the apps they have built in the classroom.

Apple has also developed apps that help teachers at the Academy put the power of technology to work, bringing ideas into their lessons and productivity to their classrooms.

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The ‘Schoolwork’ app makes it easy for teachers to share class materials, assign activities within apps and view students progress. Students have one place to see assignments, submit work and view their own progress.

Apple Teacher is a free online professional learning programme designed to support and celebrate the great work of teachers around the world.

“We are aiming for an all-round development of not only students but also teachers as true digital learning can only happen then”, said a beaming Chouksey. (IANS)