For madrassa students, new avenues to success

ndian Muslims from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) hold a candlelight peace march in memory of the Mumbai terror attacks in December 2008. The university has announced the creation of a "bridge course" to help madrassa students gain general education knowledge and skills to enroll in degree programs and compete in the job market

ndian Muslims from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) hold a candlelight peace march in memory of the Mumbai terror attacks in December 2008. The university has announced the creation of a “bridge course” to help madrassa students gain general education knowledge and skills to enroll in degree programs and compete in the job market

A university has developed a special one-year course offering a path to higher education, new job opportunities, and a broader vision of the world.
Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has launched a new “bridge course” for madrassa students to help prepare them for higher education and the job market.
The specially designed course will help students secure university enrollment and make them eligible to apply for both government and non-governmental jobs. Currently, most madrassa graduates serve as Imams or end up working at madrassas on a meagre salary.

“We have designed this special one-year course for madrassa students who, after completing Molvi Fazal (degree in Islamic Theology), find it difficult to seek admission in universities under the present curriculum taught in madrassas,” Zeba Zaka-ur-Rab, director of the Centre for Promotion of Science at AMU, told Khabar South Asia. “This bridge course will open up Commerce, Law, Social Sciences, Arts and many other faculties for them.

“The admission will be on the basis of written test and viva voce (oral/spoken examination),” said Rab. “The qualified will be eligible to choose any graduate stream of three years. The meritorious will get scholarship and placement too.”

The need for modern subjects

Madrassas are an integral part of the Muslim experience, as many students begin attending at an early age. The schools exist in nearly every part of the country, are managed by religious clergy, and provide free education, food and hostel facilities.

“We send our kids to madrassas as we don’t have any alternate option available. They get free religious education besides food, uniform and hostel,” labourer Saleem Ahmad of Okhla, Delhi told Khabar.

“We cannot afford English medium schools as they charge a hefty amount,” Ahmad said. “My daughter will join the bridge course next year as she is completing her degree by March. We know that she can’t get a job until she is acquainted with modern subjects.”

Moulana Ragib Qasmi, a graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband seminary, wants to join the AMU bridge course.

“I think the courses will assist us in getting to know modern languages – particularly English, which is mandatory to understanding affairs of the world today,” Qasmi told Khabar. “We are blessed the way AMU has especially designed this concept by keeping under consideration that we come from a madrassa background.

“This is truly going to benefit us in the long run,” he added. “Staying at a modern hostel and enjoying campus atmosphere will be an advantage to our experience.”

Escaping the cycle of poverty

Many madrassas have recently introduced English and computers in their curriculum, but still lag behind modern schools.

“Muslims live in a pathetic condition and are unable to provide their kids quality education as it needs good financial back up,” said Moulana Hafiz Matloob Karim, director of Delhi’s Madrassa Tahfizul Qur’an. “We in madrassas try to give them a modern education, but we don’t have good facilities available.

“By the induction of the bridge course, AMU will be a better choice for our students who want to sit in competitive examinations and look for further courses,” he added. “I think modern education is compulsory for all students.”

“Muslims are reeling under so many pressures. The most serious is that they are not well versed with modern education, and thus suffer financially,” said Khwaja Muhammad Ekramuddin, director of the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, part of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Ekramuddin said the lack of modern education has made it difficult for many Muslims to prove their talent and to cope with other societies.

“This course will surely broaden their vision and they will able to change the society as they are linked to the grass root and hold a very key position in our community,” he told Media.

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