Equity is a complex issue, especially when seen in the light of “Islamic” education as an ideology and medium for power, rather than as an avenue or opportunity for human progress. However these tensions are framed, Muslim education’s potential to socially and economically develop a large population of Muslims must be reckoned with. Once premier places of learning during the Classical Muslim world whose influence even impacted western scholarship, Muslim educational institutions today pale in comparison to secular education in various aspects. Their contributions in the fields of science and technology to further improve human socio-economic development have been relatively slow, especially when the Muslim-host countries are still gradually reconstructing their economy after the Global Recession in early 1990s and the struggle with post-colonial modernity. In some states, Muslim educational institutions such as madrasah and pondok are facing educational hegemony or social obliteration as they are considered less economically viable. With such socio-historical backdrop, it is our quest to uncover factors contributing to this lacklustre state of present-day madrasahs.
One of the above factors is the assumption that the interplay between state polity vis-à-vis the madrasah based on the notion of equity in access to opportunities can bring about radical change in the current position of madrasahs. Is the madrasah or other Muslim educational institutions given equal access to opportunities in terms of financial and infrastructural supports such as human resource, curriculum, academic and career opportunities, vast media exposure etc. as enjoyed by the national educational system, for instance? We believe that, without equity, it would be extremely difficult for madrasahs to find their place in a national system and contribute to the nation’s progress. Undeniably, the onus is on the madrasahs to prove their relevance to the needs of the modern society in order for them to survive. However, it is naïve to negate the impact of socio-politico-economic factors on the current position of the madrasahs.