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January 8, 2015

Madrassas have numerous funding sources


January 8, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The Madaris (madrassahs or religious seminaries) receive funding from different sources - overseas, regular contributions from their graduates working in big cities and local influential figures, a study shows.
A reading of the valuable study conducted by an officer of the district management group in a particular area of the southern Punjab some two decades ago shows its absolute relevance even in today’s scenario when the seminaries have grown manifold.
Jamiat Ulemae Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman fears action against the seminaries on the force of the just approved amendments in the Constitution and the Pakistan Army Act while the government has denied any such move.
Not only he but the biggest federation of the chain of seminaries, spread all over Pakistan, is also unhappy with these amendments. It is holding a meeting on Thursday to devise its action of plan about these changes. The study said that 71% such institutions were established after 1976. According to it, the real hard-core activists of different organisations are the ones, who graduate from these schools as residential students. Some 43 % students were residential.
The study said that the seminaries belonging to two sects invariably indulged in sectarianism. They were in the control of the now banned outfits.Most of the managers of large and well-established schools said that some of their ‘outstanding’ former students have gone to a Muslim country and regularly finance their alma mater out of their personal income.
The study said that many institutions, as told by their managements, get regular subscriptions from the former students, who have settled in Karachi, Lahore and other big cities, and are working there as Imam Masjid (prayers leaders) or have their own seminaries over there.
It said that local influential people also generously contribute to these schools. Many local landlords and businessmen regularly provide funding in order to lobby this

strong and large group and do it for political and business purposes. By patronising these seminaries, they also try to create a clout for influencing the local administration and community.
Interviews with students and managers revealed that most ‘talented’ students are expected to set up their own religious schools in the same area. After graduation, Karachi is the preferred destination of most of these students. Many shift to other big cities and take up employment as Imam Masjid, or teach “Nazara Quran” (Recitation of Holy Quran) in the houses of different people. Upon return to village or hometown, they also establish an independent seminary.
The study said that the linkage between seminaries and government schools is a very sensitive and important issue. In 1984-85, the government took a policy decision that the graduates of these schools will be given employment in education department as Arabic teachers in basic pay scale 9, if they have Wifaq-ul-Madaras degrees. One or two posts of Arabic teachers were created in every government high school.
The survey showed that only 11% of madrassahs are government financed or getting aid from Zakat fund. It was also seen that most of the financial aid from the government and Zakat goes to two sets of madrassahs (Madaras).The aims and objectives of the survey included documentation of all religious schools and their managers; assessment of their role in sectarianism and religious violence; assessment of the size of this sector and number of students and share of different sects; calculation of the rate of growth during last two decades; study of the mode of their financing; and to have an idea of future trends.
The study was conducted by the Land Revenue Agency. Each Patwari (land clerk) made a survey of his circle (area of responsibility) on a uniform proforma, which was verified by respective Girdawar (Supervisor). Sample checking of these survey reports was done by the concerned Tehsildar/Naib Tehsildar (Revenue officers) and assistant commissioner in order to ensure accuracy and quality of data collection. One-day training workshop of all revenue staff was held prior to the survey, which ensured quality and uniformity of data collection.
The uniform proforma devised for the purpose contained information about police station, name of the school and its manager; location; year of establishment; number of students - residential and non-residential -; sect to which it belongs and whether receiving monetary aid from government (Zakat fund); and involvement in sectarianism.
This aspect was assessed on the grounds that the school, which is visited by leading sectarian leaders, or if its students participate in sectarian processions and gatherings, or if its management lobbies for, or provides leadership to sectarian issues, it has been labeled positive as for as sectarianism is concerned.Location of seminaries was juxtaposed with communities and villages having “A” or “B” category sensitivity index in the record of police and district management.

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