The Maharashtra government has said that the children studying in madrasas (Islamic educational institutes) qualify as "out-of-school" and the state education department will conduct a one-day general survey on Saturday to identify these these students.
The government has also said that the madrasas which do not teach primary subjects such as English, Maths and Science would be considered as 'non-schools'.
"Those schools which do not follow the curriculum approved by the state government, will not be recognised as schools," said Minister of State for Social Justice Dilip Kamble on Thursday. "Therefore, children studying in madrasas or in any other institutions based only on religious studies will not be counted among school students."
A public interest litigation challenging this survey has been filed at the Bombay High Court, but the Nagpur bench of the HC yesterday refused to pass an interim order over the survey. According to the PIL, students pursuing open and non-formal education should not be considered "out-of-school". The PIL has also said that the state education department plans to ink fingers of the children during the survey, which is a violation of children's rights, it said.
Even though the survey was announced earlier in May and Muslim leaders were informed about it last month, they were not told that students going to madrasas would be counted among the "out-of-school" children, they alleged.
The move by the state BJP government has found stiff opposition from Congress, which had announced scholarships for students in madrasas last year. "Madrasas give religious education and many students from madrasas have later studied at secular institutions and went on to crack civil services exam. They should not be considered out of school," said Congress MLA Amin Patel.
According to 2013 data provided by the state directorate of minorities, 1.48 lakh students were enrolled in 1,889 madrasas in Maharashtra.