Speakers at a discussion yesterday stressed the need for modernising madrasa education, mainly the Qawmi one, with its integration into the mainstream education as 75 percent students of such educational institutions remain jobless for a lack of expertise.
They also said the government should bring Qawmi madrasas under its regulation and control to ensure pragmatic and science-oriented education for its huge number of students.
There are now two types of madrasa education systems -- Alia system regulated by the government under the Madrasa Education Board and Qawmi financed by donors but run independently, they added.
“Around 75 percent of madrasa students now remain unemployed in different forms as they have no opportunity to engage in jobs based on their education and skills,” said Prof Abul Barkat of Dhaka University.
He came up with the remarks while speaking at a discussion at Jatiya Press Club in the capital, reports UNB.
Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) arranged the discussion on “Madrasa Education in Bangladesh vs Struggle against Discrimination in Education”.
A book titled, “Bangladesh-er Madrasa Shikkhar Rajnoitik Orthoniti” (Political Economy of Madrasa Education in Bangladesh), published by Ramon Publishers, was also launched at the programme.
The book is the Bangla version of a research work on madrasa education, which was published in English in 2011, said the organisers. Prof Barkat, who led the research team, and others wrote the book based on their findings.
As per their findings, the DU professor said the total number of madrasa students was around 1 crore in 2008. It now stands at around 1.5 crore. Of them, more than half are studying at Qawmi madrasas, where there are no government rules and regulations.
There were 52 lakh students in Qawmi madrasas in 2008, which has now crossed 70 lakh.
“The country's every third student is a madrasa student… We're not in a good position if we consider the standard of madrasa education,” the DU teacher observed.
He said the growth rate of general educational institution is 3 percent, and that of madrasa institution is about 4.65 percent. Interestingly, Barkat said, 92 percent managing committee members of madrasas do not send their children to such educational institutions.
He also said around 92 percent madrasa students are from poor and lower middle-class families and they choose madrasas for religious and financial reasons.
According to the findings, Barkat said, 50 percent of the Alia madrasa students opined that their education system is almost ineffective to get good jobs while 70 percent said their textbooks should be modernised further and 73 percent said their teachers are not well-trained.
“Madrasas have failed to provide quality… and realistic education and produce skilled human resources.”
Former Chief Information Commissioner Dr Golam Rahman said the government should not keep the Qawmi madrasas isolated. “We should ensure time-befitting and modern education for the madrasa students.”
He also suggested introducing a unified madrasa education integrating it with general education.
ALRD Executive Director Shamsul Huda said a massive reform in madrasa education, mainly the Qawmi one, is necessary to modernise it and include a huge number of students in the mainstream development.
He said the government should establish its control on Qawmi madrasas and bring those under its regulations to ensure quality education for their students.
“Many education policies were made and education commissions formed, but we could neither properly modernise the madrasa education nor introduce unified education system,” he observed.
“We're not against madrasa education, but we want madrasa students to get quality and science-oriented education alongside religious one...”
DU Prof MM Akash said the country has long been witnessing a massive growth of madrasas due to socio-political and economic reasons. As most Qawmi madrasas are free of cost, guardians, mainly poor ones, are sending their children there.
Akash said the number of Ebtedayee madrasas are decreasing as the government is providing primary education free of cost. “We should now focus on secondary education to check the spread of madrasas.” He urged the government to increase its budgetary allocation to ensure quality education and bring the Qawmi madrasas under its scanner.
Praising the organisers for launching the book, former High Court division judge Justice Nizamul Haque said the book should be made available for all so that people can get an idea about the real picture of madrasa education.
Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir moderated and presided over the discussion, which was also addressed by Prof Shafique-uz-Zaman of DU economics department.