An open letter to Education Minister

We think it possible to create, on the pattern of Red Cross Fund, a fund from teachers on purely voluntary basis so that small projects in hundreds could be completed by educational authorities at various levels.
An open letter to Education Minister
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Sir,

Please allow me to express the recognition of your merits and my concerns regarding the improvement which can be made under your well deserved dominion. I want to introduce you to my concept of Charity Fund for Boosting Education. I believe you occupy a status, strong enough to draw attention of teachers and students to the following points:  We, in the civil society wonder about possibilities that could be explored for solving certain problems and reorienting education. 

Charity is a key virtue that along with love is considered to be the essence of scriptures. Apart from debates and moral education, this practice should be a focus of extracurricular activities as well. Understood in wider sense it involves self giving and sharing and commitment to a vision of universal spirit of humanity in which all humans participate regardless of differences in caste, colour and creedal system. If education is considered in terms of transmission of culture and skills, communication of wisdom and interdependence of citizens in a serving society, then charity can be seen as vital component of it. As such, I wish you may announce that this year or next year or a particular season be celebrated as Year of Charity and Value Education. 

Since Zakat and other forms of infaq and dhaan in various religious and cultural traditions are important component of our culture whose educational and social significance if considered, it is suggested that teachers consider paying part of their routine charity in cash or any other kind for the cause of education which is universally recognized as one of the important needs of many poor, needy persons or may be one reason for incurring debt (recall Quran 9:60 detailing various categories to whom alms are to be given). It is worthwhile to note that orphans and other people surviving in alike disadvantageous states, enrolled in educational institutions are living miserably. We can spend zakat on their scholarship and other things. Outside, Zakat money is already being used for educational scholarships and other uses in international network of schools founded by Gulen. In fact, there are many scholars currently arguing upon the usage of zakat for education of the poor and needy. 

In this context, a zakat calculator will be provided to all schools from Directorate duly endorsed by religious scholars and it would be the job of DDOs in schools to both educate and motivate the staff for contributing some part of their zakat or other forms of charity. Those teachers who consider that zakat is best spent on things other than education or who maintain rather questionable division between religious and secular spheres in education are to be requested to consider that, apart from zakat and other forms of charity, money may be reserved for the cause of education. Teachers who contribute will have authority to recommend students who should be receiving the benefits of Charity Fund. 

It will give greater autonomy to teachers who do give charity to other institutions but aren't taken into consideration while the same is being spent.  It will teach community at large, the better way of managing charity money on various causes. 

It will better teach students the value of cultivating charity in their own lives. It will give a boost to a lot of activities, curricular and extracurricular that suffer for lack of institutional funding. It will motivate both teachers and students to propose new ideas.  It would foster the idea that zakat is community money spent on community's larger interests and for their greater good while considering education as a community subject. 

Directorate will apply for income tax relaxation on the charity fund either by independent registration or by affiliation with recognized charity institutions that issue recognized certificates. This will further be monitored by income tax authorities to ascertain deserving institutions. 

We think it possible to create, on the pattern of Red Cross Fund, a fund from teachers on purely voluntary basis so that small projects in hundreds could be completed by educational authorities at various levels including schools and every contributor would have a say in deciding how to spend it. 

We have around 1,00,000 teachers. Suppose all are motivated to contribute from Rs 10 (RETs) to 25 (Regular Teachers) Rs 30 (Masters) Rs 50 (Lecturers and Head Masters/Principals), then we will get around 30 lac/month. Besides if only 10% teachers consent to give only 50% of Zakat money to this fund, we will be able to collect money in crores or tens of crores annually. 50% of fund will go to central agency and the rest can be spent at local level by head of the school. The idea of book reading culture and some meaningful interventions will boost and train local talent who could be its primary target. We know, only with Rs 10000 could many things be done in selected schools. We also know that many geniuses die in schools longing for small amount of money as fee or scholarship or for purchasing quality books. Directorate should be concerned about it. I would conclude by acknowledging that this letter would just be an idea until you take a step ahead to wrap this thought beautifully in the robes of practice. 

With deepest Regards 

Sheikh Sameer

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