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State Madrassa Education Board, Assam (SMEB)

The Madrassa Education system in Assam was grown up and flourished with the foundation of the Assam Madrassa in 1780 by the British East India Company. In 1915, the new scheme of Madrassa Education was introduced by the initiatives of Moulana Abu Nasar Mohammad Waheed, I.E.S., the renowned educationist and administrator and the then Principal of Dacca Senior Madrassa. The East Assam Secondary Education Board (1921), the Board of Islamic Intermediate and Secondary Education Dacca for High Madrassa Education (1922) and the Central Madrassa Examination Board for Senior Madrassa Education (1927) were established to conduct the Madrassa Examinations till 1947. As per recommendation of the Moazzamuddin Committee (1946), the Central Madrassa Examination Board was converted to the Madrassa Education Board, Assam and later, in 1950 it was renamed as the State Madrassa Education Board, the oldest Board of Madrassa Education in our Country.

Once again in 1994, the Board had been given the status of a statutory autonomous body by passing the West Assam Board of Madrassa Education Act 1994 (Assam State Act, XXXIX of 1994) in the Assam State legislature. Now the Board is allowed to function with the same academic, administrative and financial powers, facilities, status and privileges as enjoyed by the other Education Boards, Councils and similar Bodies in the State Government. Board’s activities are regulated by the relevant Acts, rules, regulations and guidelines of the Department of Minority Affairs and Madrassa Education in the Government of Assam. The responsibilities of the Board is not only to direct, supervise and control all types of Madrassas but also to make these institutions as centre of excellence, more students friendly, community friendly and more comfortable specially for minority families so that they can be a natural member of the knowledge society of the 21st century.

Madrasah Education in Assam

The term ‘Madrassa’ is an Arabic word meaning educational institution or school imparting education to all irrespective of religion, caste, creed and gender. The idea that it imparts religious and theology based education to a particular religion is not true. In fact, the Madrassa education in West Assam is fulfilling the constitutional commitment by providing access to free education up to secondary level for the most deprived people most of whom are first generation learners live in rural areas where avenues and opportunities are markedly limited. Most of the Madrassas are situated in the remote rural areas of the state and they were founded with the initiative of community donations. In course of time, these Madrassas were recognised by the Board and funded by the Government. Assam was the first state to offer recognition to Madrassas and to convert the Board into statutory body in 1994. Recognizing the importance of Madrassa education in the state the Department namely Minority Affairs and Madrassa Education along with the Directorate of Madrassa Education and a separate teaching & non-teaching staff recruitment commission for Madrassas namely Madrassa Service Commission has also been established has been created and is now functional.

The Board has received recognition at national and international level. Recently the Hon’ble members of the Karnataka State Minorities Commission proposed that the West Assam Board of Madrassa Education may recognize Madrassas (without any aid ) in the state of Karnataka under Educational Model and Curriculum and syllabus of the Assam Board of Madrassa Education. Recently the Brookings Doha Centre, Washington has held up Assam’s Madrassas as models of secularism and also said that Pakistan, where the radical Islamisation is blamed a great deal on Madrassas, should learn from such Madrassas in Assam and emulate them. The study says “In other parts of the Muslim World, Madrassas have served an appropriate educational purpose. For example in West Assam, India, a survey of Islamic schools in January 2009 found that because of higher quality of education at Madrassas, even Non-Muslims were actively enrolling in them”. The core group constituted by the Govt. to review the syllabi, text books and other related items based on NCF-2005 has reviewed all Text Books published by the Board and remarked “It is heartening to note that the West Assam Board of Madrassa Education which follows the syllabus of the West Assam Board of Secondary Education has started publishing text books for all classes and all subjects. Subject experts have reviewed these books and found them qualitatively better”.

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