CAIRO - As madrasas have become a mainstream education provider for thousands of Indians, a growing number of Hindus in India's eastern state of West Bengal are keen on attending the Islamic schools, making it to their merit list.
We have seen instances where Hindu students leave schools and join our madrasa, Nurul Islam, the headmaster of Khalatpur High Madrasa, told The Hindu on Saturday, June 2.
Opening its doors to non-Muslim students, the number of non-Muslim students in West Bengal Board of Madrasa Education (WBBME) has doubled over the past year.
Officials of the WBBME said approximately 1590 such examinees, which is more than four per cent of the total number of candidates, appeared in the board examinations held in February this year, they said.
For example, Hindu students comprise 15 per cent of the entire student strength in Khalatpur High Madrasa, Islam noted.
These madrasas are equipped with the new tools of modern education.
He added that these madrasas don't limit the curriculum only to subjects like Arabic and Islamic Studies, but give equal emphasis to science, mathematics, and languages, including English.
Of the 600 madrasas in the State, only 100 are Senior Madrasas which exclusively teach theology, Islam said.
The remaining are High Madrasas where all subjects, including theology, are taught.
Officials noted that madrasahs have managed to gain the confidence of students who sometimes outnumbered the number of their Muslim counterparts.
Not only has the number of non-Muslim candidates appearing in the examination increased this year, but Brajeshawar Maji, a non-Muslim student from Khalatpur High Madrasa in the State's Howrah district also made it to the merit list, said Ghiyasuddin Siddique, president of the Madrasa board.
Choosing madrasas, non-Muslim students made it to the merit list of Islamic schools in West Bengal
Anwar Hussain, headmaster of the Orgram Chatuspalli High Madrasa in the State's Bardhaman district which had 61 per cent non-Muslim students, said this year a Hindu student from his madrasa scored the highest marks in the board examinations.
Prince Halder, a Hindu student, scored the highest marks in our madrasa., Mr. Hussain said.
He scored well in Islamic studies, and got the highest marks in Arabic.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
There are 506 madrasahs in West Bengal and nearly 52 others will be established by the end of 2009.
Nearly 17 percent of the students and 11 percent of the teachers in these Islamic schools are non-Muslims.