By Sundipto Mondal
MANGALORE: Madrasas in Kannur, 8 km from Mangalore city, are being used to train school dropouts. This year, 46 dropouts, who were coached, passed 10th standard examinations. Of them, 32 were girls.
As the news of this success spreads in the Islamic community of this coastal region, more and more madrasa managements are offering to lend their premises for similar programmes.
A fledgling initiative started eight years ago by three Muslim youths has resulted in a situation from where madrasas in the entire region might see a major transformation.
“It was not easy convincing conservative Moulvis to let out the premises of these religious schools for modern education,” says the leader of the trio Abdul Ravoof Putthige.
He says their proposal to managements of these religious institutions was simple: “Allow us to use your premises when you are not using it,” he says.
All madrasa complexes are free after 9 a.m. and Mr. Putthige with his two cousins Hameed Ullal and Akram Ullal decided to make the most of this. They formally registered an organisation called “Talent Research Foundation” (TRF) and started training dropouts.
“This is not an organisation meant for Muslims alone. Illiteracy does not have a religion neither does education,” says Mr. Putthige. The successful students narrated some heart-warming stories at the madrasa in Kannur on Wednesday. Asha (26) says she had dropped out of school after VII standard because of her father’s death. “That was 13 years ago,” she reveals. She passed the SSLC examination with a first class this year. “Now I want to become an IAS officer,” she blushes.
Her best friend is her teacher Noor Jahan who is a few years younger than her. Speaking to The Hindu, Asha says, “we are both of the same age. It was natural for a strong bond of friendship to develop between us. The traditional teacher-student equation does not apply here.”
Noor Jahan is still a student pursuing her second year Pre-University Course. Syeduddin, a leading member of the organisation, says the main idea was to get good students to teach the students.
“It is a voluntary activity. But it has worked wonders because both the teachers and the students are almost from the same generation. They understand each other better,” he says.
Some beneficiaries of the TRF have started their own organisations based on the same model of development. All these organisations are affiliated to TRF, which acts like a parent body. One such is called the Islamic Friends Foundation (IFF), Bengre.
Imran Hussain, 20-year-old president of the IFF, says he has been very disturbed with the findings of the Sachar Committee Report, which said that the education levels among Muslims, was very low. “Through such movements, we want to create a revolution in the Islamic community,” he says.
Afsar Hussain (18), another member of IFF, says they are mobilising support for the initiative through meetings held after Friday prayers in mosques throughout Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts and Kasargod district in Kerala.
His counterpart, Asif Hussain (26) who recently passed out of the TRF, says in the coming academic year at least 12 madrasas are expected to join this programme. “We are waging a war against illiteracy,” he says passionately.