January 24, 2006


Last year I wrote in detail about how Madrassa students in Bangladesh are being exploited. At least four million poor children (many of them are orphans) are studying in more than 50,000 of these religious schools across Bangladesh. Lack of standard curriculum and infrastructure and political motivations are making the madrassa students incapable of taking the challenges of the real world. If they are not provided with hope of getting the equal opportunity like the students of other standards of educations, they can easily be turned to be an army of clerics by vested quarters. That is why Madrassa reform should be the top most priority of the government.

This news can be a good example of Madrassa reform. In West Bengal, India, Madrassa education is being revolutionized (via Diganta). They have achieved the following:

1) Incorporating non-Muslims - 12% of total 329,000 Madrassa students are Hindus; expanding religious tolerance and relation between the different religious communities.
2) The syllabus is same as regular schools and the certificates are recognized by everyone. The cost of study is nominal. There are no discrimination between Muslims and non-Muslims on fees.
3) They are co-educational, in fact there are more girls than boys. Both girls and boys sit and study in the same classroom, without any veils.
4) The schools/Madrassas are equally equipped with science labs and computers.
5) Islamic studies are taught not by 'mullah's, but by teachers appointed through West Bengal School Service Commission.
6) Madrassas cater to extremely poor and mostly first-generation learners.
7) Madrassas in Bengal took part in Polio eradication program, in collaboration with UNICEF.
8) Madrassa teachers enjoy same pay-scale of regular teachers.
9) 85% of those who take secondary exams through Madrassas, go onto study in regular courses afterwards

This is really wonderful. I think Bangladesh government can study these and modernize Madrassa education system in Bangladesh.

Diganta comments:
"The best way to eradicate extremists from religion is to modernize religious education."


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