Madrasah education in Bangladesh
Education system in Bangladesh is divided into three categories: General, Madrasah and Technical Education. However, the Madrasah education system is a part and parcel of our national education system. The main focus of Madrasah education is to provide Islamic education, which is considered as the education of Shariah. Various types of Madrasah exist in Bangladesh: Maktab, Hafizia, Qawmi and Alia.
Maktab and Hafizia Madrasah:
Maktab is an Arabic word, meaning schools for teaching children in elementary Islamic subjects. It is the primary education Institute where Quran and basic rules of Islam are taught to the children. This system is usually seen in the local mosques. The Imam or Muazzin of the mosque mainly acts as the instructors of Maktabs. Hafizia Madrasahs are the vital Islamic education Institutes in Our Country. In these institutes, students mainly memorise the entire holy Quran and learn the fundamental knowledge of Islam.
Qawmi Madrasah: Qawmi education system practices the traditional Muslim education system of Bangladesh and they are independent, free from any government intervention. Indeed, they represent a private education system. The Qawmi Madrasah's education curriculum predominantly follows the Islamic Deobandi model.
Students are learning basic knowledge of Bengali, English, Science, Geography and Mathematics until class 8. But, principally, authority has been providing theological education: Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Advance Arabic and Literature. Furthermore, they are taught Urdu and Farsi. Doctors, engineers or scientists are not made here. But there is no room to question the quality of religious education in Qawmi Madrasah. According to study, there is scope for the teachers to get training from Qawmi Madrasah board but a large number of teachers have not received adequate subject-based training and these trainings are not compulsory. Moreover, teachers have shown their frustration related to the issue of salary.
Anyway, they are not bound to abide by the government rules and curriculum. Earlier, degrees conferred by the Qawmi system lacked accreditation or official recognition. However, the government in recent times moved to recognize the Qawmi degrees after most of these Madrasah were taken under the privately run Befaqul Madarisil Arabia education board.
Alia Madrasah: By enjoying public facilities and abiding by the rules and regulations of the government, Alia Madrasah is considered as government Madrasah and this is the very system recognized and controlled by the government. By providing an amalgamated education with religious knowledge, the Alia madrasa education system was introduced to produce skilled graduates. In their curriculum, humanities and science group were initiated in 1987. This education system is regulated by the Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board. Nonetheless, Fazil BA, Honours) and Kamil ( Master's) are governed by the Islamic Arabic University, an affiliated University.
In the Alia madrasa education system, students of the general group are taught Islamic studies, social sciences and arts. It includes the Quran, Arabic, Islamic history, and information and communications technology (ICT). At the science department, they are taught Islamic studies and physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and ICT. However, the majority of these Madrasahs have lost their spirit of producing skilled labour by combining integrated education with religious knowledge. Due to a severe shortage of trained teachers, a stigma attached to madrasa education, and a lack of academic reformation, this education system has been collapsing.
76 of the 119 Madrasah in Dhaka district have no Alim-level students in their science departments (BMEB). However, in many Madrasah, that do not have ICT background teachers, classes are taught at the Alim by teachers of other subjects. In fact, having teachers with no background in science teach science classes at all levels has become a common practice in Alia Madrasah. This malpractice has a far-reaching negative impact on students' productivity in science subjects such as physics, chemistry, Biology and mathematics.
In contrast, very few Alia Madrasahs in Bangladesh have sufficient science teaching facilities. Only 25% of Alia Madrasah has a science laboratory, while 14% have a computer laboratory (BANBEIS). This is also one of the reasons why students in Alia Madrasah are unwilling to study science and leave after the Dakhil exam.
Conversely, many stringent regulations levied by the Board have hampered this educational system. Students are overburdened since they have to study many courses to compare with colleges. They used to take a 100-mark Bengali and 100-mark English exam in Dakhil and Alim level. In order to make them qualified for university admission test, the Board placed Bengali and English exams worth 200 marks, with no additional curriculum reforms. Therefore, a general stream student takes a 1,300-mark Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) exam, while an Alia madrasa student takes a 1,700-mark Alim exam.
The training facilities of Madrasah teachers are significantly scarce too. For approximately 150,000 higher secondary level Alia madrasa teachers, only one training centre is available. On the contrary, numerous problems as well as an invisible hand have been halting the Madrasah students to get a good job and indeed, sometimes they are neglected in the job market.
The purpose of Alia Madrasah is to make experts in science or social science with the blending knowledge of religion and vice versa. But, nowadays there is a titanic gap in the basic Islamic education system but famous educational institutions, as there is a growing trend towards certificate-cantered studies and overburdened by general subjects. Fundamental Islamic books are not taken seriously.
Despite these drawbacks, they are doing great in admission tests in universities. According to DU's law faculty office sources, 78 per cent of law department enrolment in 2017 had a madrasa background. Even in the 2016-17 academic year, 84 students got a chance in the admission test of B unit of Dhaka University from one Madrasah.
Authorities concerned should look into the matter seriously why are the students of Qawmi Madrasah not learning science, English or ICT. Simultaneously the students of Alia Madrasah are overburdened by their subjects. So, Curriculum and teaching learning process should be reformed. Government and job market must have to consider the Madrasah student in the job field regardless of their affiliation. Disparity should be eliminated. And finally, it would be better to establish a unified, one way education system in Bangladesh.
The writer is an independent writer and Student of Public Administration, University of Barishal