Access to laptop and internet has transformed the way students acquire education in many madrasas of Uttar Pradesh and improved their participation, Islamic institutes’ teachers and officials said.

Barabanki-based Noorul Makatib madrasa witnessed a fall in student drop out rate after it got six laptops with internet connection in 2014 as part of Tata trusts’ Technology in Education (ITE) initiative.

“Earlier, we had to persuade students to come to school but now they eagerly attend classes. It is heartening to see the way technology is being used by students,” said madrasa head Mahmud-ul-Haque. Students of Class 4 and above are given access to a laptop to find out about history and geography of Indian cities, dietary components in their food and contribution of personalities, said madrasa teachers.

To ensure that the students use the laptops for education purposes only, officials have denied them access to different social media sites.

“Exposure to internet has connected the students to the outside world. It has made them feel that they are at par with students from metro cities,” Haque added.

Hailing the initiative, 15-year-old Kaneez Waris, a student at the madrasa said: “We had never seen a computer till 2014 and then we were asked to work on laptops. We work together in a group and try to use it to work out mathematical problems.”

Mohd Naseer-ul-Haque Ansari of Katra’s Madrasa Ansar-ul-Uloom said the enrolment at their institute shot up by 20% after they got laptops under the initiative.

“I have not even used a mobile phone in my life but the laptops at madrasa have opened a new world for me. I can now use it to do calculations, make weather charts and even learn English. There were so many places I had only heard about and now I can see their pictures videos,” said Sumbul Jahan, a student of Madrasa Noorul Makatib.