A look at the Madrasa system of West Bengal

By Manzar Bilal, TwoCircles.net,


Madrasa system in West Bengal came with the arrival of Muslims in this part of India, to impart Islamic education. The Madrasah-i-Aliah founded by Warring Hastings (first governor general of East India Company) in October of 1780 in Kolkata, turned a new leaf by introducing modern education as a full fledged subject along with Islamic studies. The madrasah was supported by government funding and was setup with the purpose of providing man-power for the ever growing bureaucracy of Company Raj.

Some other madrasas were established on the same pattern, at the same time scores of traditional madrasa continued to provide Islamic education in their own way.

In 1927 the “Board of Central Madarsah” was established. Madrasas spread over Bihar, Orissa, & Bengal conducted examination under this board. Some independent madrasas were also affiliated to the central board. During partition the board shifted to Dhaka and an interim “West Bengal Board of Madarsa Education” (WBBME) was set up in Hoogly Islamic College. In 1964 the board was revived by inducting 15 members, a president and an advisory board.

Madrasah-i-Aliah [Photo: www.2classnotes.com]

In a landmark decision taken on June 28th, 1994, the government of West Bengal granted autonomous status to the board and passed “West Bengal Board of Madarsa Education Act, 1994”. Since then it has been enjoying status like other school education boards/councils in the state.

As far as finances are concerned, it works the same way as other educational institutions. Independent or private madrasas run on donations and mentorship while govt affiliated madrasa are funded by state government. Earlier West Bengal Board of Madarsah Education worked under the ministry of education, but the present government took a step further and created a separate ministry for it. Mr. Abdus Sattar is the first head of Ministry of Madrasa Education.

Current state of affairs

Out of thousand madrasas in the state, only 508 are affiliated to the board. Muslims comprise 26% of the total population of the state, and these madrasas cater to almost 70% of less fortunate and poorer Muslim population, as they can’t afford higher tuition fees and have to rely on madrasas for primary and secondary education. To meet the educational need of the community, project for opening 70 madrasas by the beginning of the New Year is in the pipeline.

West Bengal Board of Madarsa Education divids education system into three steps; Junior High Madarsa, High Madarsa and Senior Madarsa. At present, there are 168 Junior High Madarsas, 238 High Madarsas and 103 Senior Madarsas.

The subjects that are being taught at Madarsas affiliated or approved by Madarsa Education Board of West Bengal are English, Life Science, Physical Science, History, Chemistry, Geography, Mathematics, Arabic and Islamic Studies.

Junior High Madarsas and High Madarsas are teaching the same syllabus and text books as prescribed by the west Bengal Board of Secondary Education with the additional subject of Arabic and Islamic studies. But Senior madrasas have a little different pattern of education. It’s divided into phases:

Primary stage - classes I-V

Junior stage - classes V-VIII

Alim Stage - Classes IX-X

Fazil Stage - Classes XI-XII

Kamil Stage - Two Years

Mumtazul Muhaddethin (M.M.) Stage - Two Years

English is taught in Madrasahs but not in primary level. Now to modernize the madrasas, State Government is initiating the use of English as medium of instruction.


After 9/11 attacks, media widely propagated that madrasahs are tools of fundamental Islamic teachings, they accused madrasahs in all over the world of fostering terrorist activities, but in India not even one madrasa was found guilty of this baseless charge. The irony is, the madrasas of west Bengal have a significant Hindu enrollment, many of these madrasas have Hindu teachers and head masters .In fact in some remote madrasas like Kasba M.M. High Madrasa in Uttar Dinajpur district, Ekmukha Safiabad High Madrasa in Cooch Behar district, Orgram Chatuspalli High Madrasa at Burdwan district and Chandrakona Islamia High Madrasa at West Midnapore district,the number of Hindu students is higher than Muslim students. 618 out of the 1,077 students in Kasba, 554 out of 868 students at Orgram, 201 out of 312 at Chandrakona and 290 out of total 480 students at Ekmukha are Hindus. Madrasas are the only education facility they can avail, also madrasas provide free mid-day meals which is very attractive to poor Hindus and Muslims. In some instances, even well off Hindus send their kids to madrasas, because the madrasahs have exactly same curriculum, same syllabus and same management and same pension and pay for teachers, that of other secondary schools.

Contention and doubts

Though administration of Madrasah Board of West Bengal is hopeful and happy with way things are going, Muslim leaders and many academics do not agree with the concept of the board, according to them Madrasas are meant for religious learning and they should emphasize on that only, they think that madrasa board is sailing in two boats at once.

Advocate Adrees Ali agrees that modernization should be implemented at Madrasas but it should not interfere with religious teachings
“There should be changes in madarsa curriculum with the time but religious education must be prime objective of Madarsa education” he said.

"It is neither fully a madarsas system nor fully a secular system. For Muslims a Madarsas education means Islamic education - an education which has given them the great scholars, academics and imams in the past" said Suleiman Kurshid a history professor.

“Earlier, 80 % religious education was taught at madarsas and 20% modern education but now situation is vice versa and religious education lost its importance in these madarsas as it was called extra subject and no one is interested in religious education there” reports Fakhrul Islam Qasmi, rector of Madarsa Qasimul Uloom, Kolkata.

Besides curriculum, the board and Muslim leaders are at loggerheads on the issue of appointing Hindu headmasters and teachers. Maulana Amanat Hussain, imam of Backer Hostel Masjid, Kolkata says, “Muslims are already unemployed, poor and backward in the state and by appointing non-Muslims at 60 % Madrasas, government has snatched opportunities from them to improve their own financial condition. It was Muslims and not government or any others who donated land to madrasas but now Muslims are being thrown out of madrasas”

The common notion among these Muslim heads is that, it is an attempt to push Muslims economically backwards and to gain stronghold in Muslim institutions. Whereas, the condition of some government madrasas is far from satisfactory.

Madrasah-i-Aliah has been finally given the university status and named as Aliah University in 2008 but it remains to be seen whether it will do anything to improve the educational status of Muslims of West Bengal.




Madarrsa Education

Madarrsas should teach two-thirds 60% religious education and 40% modern knowledge, with emphasis on technical skills.


Assalam walakum,

This blog is a very nice blog, I have found it very beneficial to know more about Islam. Thanks for sharing the information.

help my research

Non-muslim teachers should

Non-muslim teachers should be banned in Madrasah ...Only Muslims should be eligible for the most , otherwise the islamic character , culture would be lost . Coz Non-Muslims will never realise muslim ethos .

your prompt action shall be highly appreciated.

Kind Attention

Your honour,
100% now I believe that if you have money then you can get anything, every thing is possible by you. If you are a poor then you can’t get anything, every thing is far and beyond possible to you, also you get poor judgment and poor comportment in all aspects of life, in our country INDIA. For example 1. I. I went to Police Station more than 100 times, made 5times entries (complaints)into G.D. but Not even a microscopic actions took place against the alleged bodies. On the contrary Sandip Samanta, S/O. Shankar Kumar Samanta S.B.I(OFFICERS) he has much more and enough money so they purchase all police personnel's and some political leaders, some Dada. Etc. Only I used to get many letters and many phone calls which all seem to me needs to be thrown in the trash, as it all are valueless, toothless and only simply a solace to the poor. What an undone boy I am! Woe is to me! My wife and her family, Sandip Samanta and his family harassment to me and my family, they are torcher me physically and mentally.

We got Married 05/03/2002, and have a daughter who took birth on 09/07/2005. My wife and her family lodged a case 498A/34 IPC, FIR NO.276, date 31/08/2009, P.S.: BAGUIATI, against me and some of my family members it’s a fabricated, baseless, legless, toothless and doesn’t have any commensurate to the fact. My wife is engaged and having an illicit affair with a boy (Sandip Samanta, S/O. Shankar Kumar Samanta S.B.I. Manager) just opposite to my house, all the matters are known to every person in my village, and also they have certified me written about my fresh character and nature. When my wife left form my house taking many vory gold and cash 1.20 lack Indian rupees. What a demon she is! She didn’t take our only daughter (only four years old) who is now in my house having severe asthma supported by inhaler. My wife filed the 498A case dated 31/08/2009 and I was arrested on 06/09/2009,The Learn" ed court granted me on bail on 19/09/2009. My 1st court date is 16/10/2009 (Attended) 2nd court date is 04/01/2010 (attended) Next court date is 07/07/2010 at Barasat court. I have lots of irrefutable evidences, (20 pcs. Adult S.M.S., Adult picture with the boy and a c.d.) with me where it is cleanly reveals which translates my wife and the boy that they are in illicit relations. Believe me I and my family would love very much (which is very rare seen in our society) to my wife and never any kind of love lost didn’t happen. They (My wife family) are very very poor and live in a bosti Address: 70/H/8 Manicktolla Main Road, Kolkata – 700054, Beside 5 Star Club, my mother saw 1st time and she arranged my marriage, and Mother told me "they are very poor so what? After marriage she will be our family member" believe me not a single word is wrong. Before marriage my family did not see the pedigree of my wife’s family, now we understood also realized that they hailed from a worst status. My wife, her family and the boy all they are misusing this law. Now my wife’s family knows all the affair-related matter. My wife left our only solitary daughter to me who is 4 years old having severe "Asthma Disease, depends on INHALER, here political Hide and seek, ducks and drakes and lots of unfair means are going on and the father of the parents (THE FATHER OF THE BOY WHO HAS ILLICIT RELATIONS WITH MY WIFE) are rich, so they are spending money to everywhere with a view to be escaped. Now I decided that in no way I can’t accept that demon wife. I hired a lawyer his name Mr. Kamelash Nandi. I don’t know what will be happened next? It’s an utterly a huge and a palpable offence subsequent to which the boy deserves severe and examplanary punishment so that no one can dare to abuse this law. My mother is a sugar present shies sugar is now 400. If possible please help me. Please investigate the matter thread barely and save me and my family. I leave here one question to every one that in this die-straits situation whom do I take care to myself (TRAGEDY), my daughter, or my mother(severe Diabetic)?. My wife filed another case me U/s. 125 Cr. P. C. Case NO.167/2009, date 16/12/2009. 1st Class Judicial Magistrate at Sealdah. 1st court date is 15/01/2010 (Attended) 2nd court date is 12/02/2010(Attended). Next court date is 23/04/2010(Attended) Next court date is 03/06/2010. The Ld. court has given the judgment to provide 1500/month.I am millions miles away from the genuine and authentic investigation and inquiry. No inquiry ,investigation were executed against the F.I.R lodged by my wife. It is very painful, lamentable as well as heart rendering, breath taking affair to me and my family. My heart bursts into guffaw when I see the nature of the inquiry and investigation. One thing is as clear as crystal to me that the law and the task of the law enforcing agencies vary from man to man. A new proverb is going to take birth very soon that "Justice for the rich and Injustice is for the poor" A rich reserves the right to indulge in any kind of heinous business but the poor is restricted to involve in any type of excellent deeds" To see all these my heart is about to come in the mouth and the ground under my feet gets shook. In a word all types of Law are for the poorest and the richest will enjoy the richest judgments from all quarters.

Dear Sir/Madam,
As I’m 100 percent innocent so I screw up my courage to place my grievances to every body in order to get redress. So I want to let my matter informed all the Indian and others. I wrote my matter to our local P.S., Local Councilor, all M.P., M.L.A., Minister in W.B. and Other States, C.M. in W.B., CBI Department, CID Department, S.P. and Dy.S.P.(N.) 24 Parganas, All the I.P.S. AND I.A.S. OFFICERS. Governor in W.B, and President in India. P.M. in India, National/International Human rights department, AAP KI KACHEHRI – KIRAN KE SAATH, Kolkata Police, and all police officers in W.B., my nation, all of the news channels, and all press, Talking with some NGO’s: 1. Universal Right and Duty for Human to Abide URDHA, 2. Human Right Commission’s Mr. Ujjal Paul and Mr. Shibaji Dasgupta. 3. Bhatat Bachao Sangathan BBS. 4. Forum for Socal Justice and Development FSJD. 5. Ajjtak News Channel’s Miss Menogya. and many more, (anybody can’t help me/ fight for truth /don’t take proper investigation/do not take any action/don’t take any type of query/ Still Now, I see they all are in sound asleep. The reason is best known to them. NOW BAGUIATI POLICE O.C. LISTENED ME AND TOLD ME "YOU FILE A FIR 156(3) I ARREST / TAKE NECESSARY ACTION. NOW I FILED THE CASE 165(3) CASE NO. 921 OF 2010, DATE-13/04/2010 CHARGE 323, 379, 406, 497, 498, 500, 504, 506 READ WITH 34/120B OF INDIAN PENAL CODE. NOW I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO SEE WHAT HAPPENED?
The file comes and the case is starting At Baguiati Police Station Case No-168 Date: 24.04.2010. Baguiati Police Station’s Officer In charge Ph. No. is: 9830673407(Goutam Mitra), Baguiati Police Station’s Ph. No. is: 033 25598799. Investigation Officer Name is: Ajay Kumar Ghosh.
I’m Punishment + harassment Without Crime. I think all are carpeted.
I hope you would care to me, your prompt action shall be highly appreciated.

With kindest regards,
Dipak Kumar Adhikari
Tegharia(Dhali Para),NandanKanan. P.S.: Baguiati.
P.O. Hatiara. Dist.: North 24 Parganas. Kolkata-700059 Email: [email protected]
W.B. India. PH. 9836149983