Speakers at a discussion here on Saturday 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 lack of expertise.
They also said the government should bring Qawmi madrasas under its rules, regulation and control to ensure quality, pragmatic and science-oriented education for their huge number of students.
The speakers also said 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.
“Around 75 percent 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-cum-book launching programme at the Jatiya Press Club.
Barkat and others wrote the book titled ‘Political Economy of Madrasa Education in Bangladesh’ based on their thorough research findings.
As per their findings, the DU professor said the total number of the madrasa students was around 1 crore in 2008 which now stands at around 1.5 crore. Of them, more than half are studying at Qawmi madrasas, where there are no 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 and the situation is worse than what was in Pakistan era. We’re not in a good position if we consider the standard of madrasa education,” the DU teacher observed.
He said while the growth rate of general educational institution is 3 percent that of madrasa educational 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 both 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.
He said the madrasa education is not only backdated but also contradictory to the country’s constitution. “Madrasas have failed to provide quality, non-communal and realistic education and produce skilled human resources.”
The DU teacher also thinks madrasas are a fertile ground for production and reproduction of communal and fundamentalism.
Former Chief Information Commissioner Dr Golam Rahman said the government should not keep the Qawmi madrasas isolated. “We should ensure quality and time-befitting and modern education for the madrasa students.”
He also suggested introducing a unified madrasa education integrating it with general education.
Association For Land Reform and Development (ALRD) executive director Shamsul Huda said a massive reform in madrasa education, mainly 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 the rules and regulations to ensure quality education for their students.
“Many education policies were made and education commissions formed, but we could neither properly modrenise 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 so that they can keep contributions to the country’s development.
Another DU Professor Dr MM Akash said the country has long been witnessing a massive growth of madrasas due to socio-political and economic reasons.
He said as most Qawmi madrasa provide students free of cost and guardians, mainly poor ones, are sending their children to such educational institutions.
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.