The Rehmani Model School, a madrasa in the heart of Rajasthan’s capital city Jaipur, may be considered as a model case of modernisation of madrasas in the country. The seminary, which is run from the premises of a mosque in the heart of the Pink City, is not only graduating to the formal mainstream education, it is also headed by a Hindu principal.
The madrasa, which claims to enrol around 1,150 students, is also a co-education institution, which is rare for madrasas in India. Half of the madrasa students are girls.
The principal of the madrasa, Kailash Chand Yadav, was formerly with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Vidya Mandir school before joining the madrasa three years ago. Before him, Sarla Vyas, a Hindu lady teacher was heading the madrasa.
According to Abdul Qayyum Akhter, the founder and manager of the school, the madrasa has had a Hindu principal for the last 10 years. “Ever since we got it affiliated with the Rajasthan State Education Board, there has been a Hindu principal here. The purpose was to get an efficient headmaster for the madrasa as well as to give it a secular outlook,” says Qayyum.
Qayyum says that initially some had objected when a Hindu teacher was appointed. “But when the quality of the madrasa improved and students started scoring high marks in the state’s board examinations, people mellowed down. And apart from a Hindu principal, we now have around eight Hindu teachers,” adds Qayyum.
Principal Yadav says that when he joined the school, he was apprehensive about the demographic of the students and the requirements of the syllabus.
“It was hard to break into the ‘ghetto’ psyche of both the parents and the students, the majority of whom belong to the artisan community. Being illiterate and ultra conservative, the parents were not much supportive of modern education. I insisted that the parents must visit the school on a regular basis so that they themselves could take to the school environment,” says Yadav. “And now the mothers turn up every week for parent-teacher meetings,” he adds.
Yadav adds that his presence has brought about reforms in the educational pattern of the school, which amalgamates deeniyat (theology) with formal state board education.
Yadav says that he is not uncomfortable with the idea of students learning deeniyat in tandem with regular subjects like Mathematics, Science and English. “We have formulated a balance of both, so that students can compete with their counterparts from other schools,” he said.
Yadav says that he aspires to bring the school at par with mainstream English medium schools.
It is during the Hindu teachers’ association with the school that the madrasa rose to become the second runner up in excellence in I-T education in the state and one of its students scored 92% in the Rajasthan boards.
Yadav says that in order to inculcate multiculturalism and to help students concentrate in their studies, the school organises yoga and meditation classes off and on.