Centre faces criticism for shutting down Maulana Azad Education Foundation; here’s why

Student groups, academics have started voicing against the abrupt closure of Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF).

MAEF will also be transferring its regular and contractual employees to CWC. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)MAEF will also be transferring its regular and contractual employees to CWC. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Anu Parthiban | March 1, 2024 | 09:40 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The ministry of minority affairs has recently approved the closure of Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF). The abrupt closure of the MAEF, which works on the education of minority communities, has drawn flak from students’ organisation, academics, and experts. Notably, the ministry has not given an explanation on closure of MAEF.

The office order dated February 7 issued by Dhiraj Kumar notified that the ministry is closing the Maulana Azad Education Foundation after considering the proposal submitted by the Central Waqf Council (CWC). The total available funds with the MAEF as on November 30, 2023, is Rs 1,073.26 crore. “The current total pending liabilities is Rs 403.55 crores, thereby, making Rs 669.71 crores available with MAEF. The Society may also propose agendas before its General Body to transfer funds to the tune of Rs 669.71 crore to Consolidated Funds of India (CFI),” the ministry ordered.

The ministry further instructed the society to transfer all its fixed assets like land, building to the CWC. It will also be transferring its regular and contractual employees and all non-financial assets to CWC.

Also read Education Budget 2024: SC, OBC minority scholarship funds cut; tribal fellowships get increased allocations

“The employees of MAEF will remain under administrative control of CWC. The salary and other remuneration to these employees would be paid from the funds of CWC, as per existing terms and conditions agreed by MAEF. 43 contractual employees would be terminated by giving one month's notice, subject to directions of Court writ petitions filed by contractual employees of MAEF,” the order read.

Centre stops MANF fellowship

Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) was launched in 2009 to provide a five-year financial assistance to students belonging to communities including Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis and Sikhs to pursue MPhil and PhD.

However, in 2022, the Centre had announced to discontinue the MANF scheme as it overlapped with various other fellowship schemes for higher education implemented by the Government.

Following this decision, the Maulana Azad Education Foundation received just Rs 1 lakh in the budget 2022, much less compared to the allocation of Rs 70 crore in 2021-22. Students, politicians, academics staged nation-wide protest to voice against the scrapping of MANF and demanded the government to roll back the decision.

Centre draws flak

On the decision to shut down MAEF, the All India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO) Karnataka state office secretary Mahantesh Bilur said: “The foundation was started with a great desire for upliftment of minority communities and improving the reach of education among them. Lakhs of students over the years have benefited from this program. But gradually, with every budget announced, the funds have been reduced with only Rs 1 lakh allotted in 2022-23 for a scheme which was helping thousands of students every year!”

The students’ group demanded the government to withdraw the order and restore all the scholarships and schemes for the minority students.

Social Democratic Party of India on X posted: "While the prime minister on all his stages rants about “sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas”, the Ministry has ordered to close down the Maulana Azad Education Foundation. This decision is a clear message that the “Sab” in the slogan excludes Muslims from its purview."

Sachar Committee Report 2006

The ministry of minority affairs was formed out of the ministry of social justice and empowerment and was established on January 29, 2006, in response to the Sachar Committee Report.

The report, published in 2006, stated that the enrolment rate saw an increase for all Socio Religious Category (SRC) as per previous year’s data. “The increase has been the highest among SCs/STs (95 percent), followed by Muslims (65 percent). Though this substantial increase has not really changed the relative position of Muslims in terms of ranks, the gaps among SRCs have narrowed dramatically.”

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