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Madrasas, Islamic schools, are prominent non-state education providers in South Asia, especially for hard-to-reach children in Muslim communities. Recent attention on madrasas has, however, focused on their alleged links with militancy, overshadowing analysis of their role as education providers. Based on a comparative analysis of the state-led madrasa-modernisation programmes in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, which aimed to introduce secular subjects in the madrasa curriculum, this contribution argues that madrasas can be important partners to advance Education for All. The forging of such a partnership is, however, contingent on the state making a serious financial commitment to the reform programme and building a trusting relationship with the religious elite.

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