Assam: Govt removes 'Moktab' from primary school; irks concerned citizens

Assam: Govt removes 'Moktab' from primary school; irks concerned citizens

Maktab Jorhat Maktab Jorhat

Covid19 is a viral pandemic that has not spared anyone rich or poor, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Amid this, a move by the Assam govt has come under public scrutiny, with people questioning the intent behind such a move.

The Office of the Director of Elementary Education has decided to drop 'Moktab' from the name of elementary schools in Assam. This directly affects the Moktab Primary School situated in Jorhat, one of the oldest primary schools in the state.

A brief glance

The school was established in 1896 and has celebrated its completion of more than 100 years. It was originally established by social workers and teachers. The alumni includes Babul Nath Goswami who received the first President award in 1959, Madan Bezbaruah, first IAS, former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi and current secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna.

The controversy

After the Assam govt's directive, the school management committee has been vocal about not agreeing to it. So far, it has written to the education department and contacted even CM Sarbananda Sonowal among others. They are even planning to go to the judiciary if things remain unresolved.

Inside Northeast spoke to one of the committee members who raised the matter. "This school has a great history and the name is associated along with that. Although it was found with the intent of teaching Arabic in subsequent years, it has been teaching general subjects and created good students who belong to all religion".

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In the govt notification, it further states that the state of Assam doesn't give any Moktabi education and as such the students face various difficulties. This was already cleared by the management member who said that the school provides general education.

To further understand the situation, Inside Northeast contacted advocate Ramiz Rahman, associated with the school and whose father headed the management committee. "No parents have given any complaints with regards to the name. Beyond the history of the school, this school has great recognition as former PM Manmohan Singh donated Rs 10 lakh and many others too have donated. This altering of the name will destroy the identity of the school", said Rahman.

What's in the name?

As per conventional wisdom, Maktab or Maktabkhaneh, also called Al Kottab, is an Arabic word meaning elementary schools. Until the 20th century, maktabs were the only means of mass education in much of the Islamic world. While in Arabic, Maktab refers to only elementary school, the word Maktab is also used in Persian language in Afghanistan and is an equivalent term to school, comprising both the primary and secondary schooling.

However, as for the case of this school, sources close to the school dismiss any contemporary connection with preaching Islamic ideals. The name originates from the aforementioned meaning which the founding figures gave but over the course of time, the curriculum has changed.

Following this uproar by the locals, this raises an important. Why does the Assam government want to change the name of primary school? Is it important to change the name of an institution with a cultural history if the syllabus is in synch with modern education?

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Edited By: Admin
Published On: Jun 17, 2020