Are we teaching history the right way? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 26, 2020

Are we teaching history the right way?

How do people learn about the history of our country? When they teach us at school, do we retain any of that? Does it do enough to inform and inspire younger generations on what it took to gain independence? On Independence Day 2020, let's try to answer some of these questions.

A general pattern noticed in the English medium curriculum would be that the syllabuses regarding Bangladesh's history, mainly related to the Liberation War, lack a lot of information. It could be seen that our studies related to Bangladesh focused primarily on social studies and on the geographical and economical conditions of our country. However, the knowledge that we received in relation to the war and the events leading up to it were centred on the important dates or significant events, not the sequential chain of proceedings. They do follow updated syllabuses at schools now, which exposes them to more knowledge, but generally not in a systemic or immersive way.

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On the other end of the spectrum, students from Bangla medium schools are exposed to a great deal of information related to the war, such as starting from the India-Pakistan war of 1965 and the events that transpired from that point on leading up to our independence. However, students have said that the material is not always taught in a cohesive system. Rather, it felt like throwing around a lot of information. This could be attributed to how some syllabuses are catered for the extremely competitive admission tests, BCS exams, or other government jobs.

The textbooks that are being followed could be a contributing factor to this issue as well. Books related to western civilisation generally tend to be more appealing and "fun" whereas the textbooks related to Bangladesh are oftentimes filled with pure information without any break in the monotony, leading to possibly dull classes. As a result, the students may end up knowing more about the Renaissance rather the history of our motherland.

In the age of the internet and online resources, there is an argument that students can learn for themselves if they find their school subjects to be lacking. But ultimately, it's clear that students from all curriculums are taught about our history in a way that mainly serves as an easy A for them. There may be exceptions, but a change towards a systemic and cohesive approach to our history will not only give the students long-lasting knowledge about their homeland, but also inspire immense appreciation for the sacrifices that went into achieving our independence.


Fatima Jahan Ena likes complaining about capitalism and her forehead. Find her at

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