The government of a country means the guardian of all sections of people of that country. Hence, it is to take some decisions to satisfy the needs of all sections which may not please some sections. Still government must go ahead. The very recent decision of the government to recognize Dawra degree of Qawmi madrasa as equivalent to master’s degree is timely and I salute the decision for several reasons though it has received serious criticisms from some corners that is also not unnatural. The decision actually tells that the Dwara-e-Hadith degree holders will be seen as having master’s degree in Islamic studies or Arabic and can apply for jobs meant for master’s degree holders coming out from general education stream. However, it was not decided to recognize the certificates of any other level as the Qawmi madrasa representatives didn’t ask for it at this moment. The prime minister clandestinely expressed her opinion in this way–” I’m announcing that keeping the unique characteristics of Qawmi madrasa and based on the basic principles of Darul Ulum Deobandth, the certificates of Dawra-e-Hadith of Qawmi madrasa has been given the status of master’s in Islamic Studies and in Arabic”. She continued ,” there are many criticisms and harsh comments by many people of other countries about Qawmi madrasa but I always protested this and I always felt that the government needs to give recognition to Qawmi madrasa education.” It is not only timely but also a bold decision which all cannot do. We witnessed such kind of decision in nationalizing the 26 thousand primary schools following the path of Bangabanthu Sheikh Mujibur Rahmand who nationalized 37 thousand primary schools standing on the broken economy of a war ravaged country.Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury has given his comment regarding the decision,” The government decision to recognize the degree without improving the syllabus and curriculum is unexpected. The quality of their education has not improved and nobody knows the contents of their textbook. Without improving the curriculum, this degree will not help them much in the job market either because they don’t get proper education. Their education system is not comparable with the mainstream education.”Muntasir Mamun of DU says, “Though the government recognizes Qawmi madrasa, its result will not be good. The students coming out of the system will not be able to enter the job market. Multinational companies will not prefer them. We, in no way, support the certificates of Qawmi madrasa.” Siddiqur Rahman, the ex-director of IER, DU, also comments almost in the same tone. He says, “The government does not have any control over the education of Qawmi madrasa, government does not know what is taught there and how is taught. Then how the government will give the certificate of that education?” With due respect I like to express my opinion in this respect. Currently 14lakh students study in about 14000 Qawmi madrasas in the country. This huge number of population can no way be neglected and kept away from the students receiving education in other streams. We must know what they learn, what is taught there and how taught without segregating them and keeping them away from us. If necessary, we can help them to revise their curriculum.
We cannot bluntly say that these people don’t have any demand in the job market. We have a huge market in the Middle Eastern countries where Arabic is the main language rather than English. By virtue of their linguistic ability they can earn a lot for the country if things are properly managed and the government can do it. Another point which we cannot afford to avoid. These people are taught honesty. Through the teachings of religion, they remain satisfied with very little thing on this earth and committing corruption is almost foreign to their nature. But serious corruption is rampant among the highly educated people coming out of general education. We know, our BUET students are the most brilliant learners of the soil whose honesty is question.
We produce several million students from our National University. With some exceptions, what about their quality? Are they proficient in Bengali? Let alone English. Do they have any technical knowledge to do the technical jobs? They don’t have. They create huge burden in the job market. But the people coming from Qawmi madrasa learn Arabic which we can utilize in the greater interest of the nation. Maulan Farid Uddin Masuod , co-chairman of Bangladesh Qawmi madrasa education commission and a key figure claimed the standard of Dawra degree is superior to even master’s degree in Islamic Studies offered by Dhaka University. A huge number of madrasa students of Bangladesh have long been deprived of this right. Today they have got their rights through the announcement. According to their proposals, a committee with representatives from the six existing Qawmi madrasa education board’s representatives will issue the certificates. There will be no government representatives on the committee. Here some negotiations can bring a positive result.
Our madrasa education is divided into two categories- Alia and Qawmi. Alia madrasa, all Alia madrasas are registered with and supervised by Bangladesh Madrasa Education Board, offer a distinctive combination of modern and religious education. Qawmi madrasa on the other hand have so far been an unchartered territory with no government monitoring, supervision or support. They run with private donations mostly. Currently 14000 Qawmi madrasas operate under six boards namely Bangladesh Qawmi Madrasa Education Boards or Befaqul Madarisil Arabia Bangladesh. They are said to follow the syllabus of Darul Ulum Deoband, a historic Islamic School of India, focusing mainly on Arabic, Persian and Urdu Languages. It is learnt that science, social sciences, mathematics and literature are not taught in Qwami madrasas. Only a handful of Qawmi madrasa teach Bengali and English up to class eight. Maulana Yea Hia Mahmud, member secretary of Qawmi madrasa education certificate recognition implementation committee says “Our highest degree will be recognized as equivalent to masters of Islamic Studies. I t means our students will be able to work in Islamic sector of government and non-government fields. Moreover, this declaration made by prime minister has raised our status in the society. Our target is to make people lead towards Akirat (next world) and make them reluctant to this world. Even after that, we will include important subjects of general education and it will increase with the passage of time. “These are very much comprising words meaning they will gradually receive education in subjects.
In order to give the recognition the ministry also formed a committee led by Hefajat -e-Islam chief Shah Ahmed Shafi, also the chairman of Befaqul Madarisil Arabia Bangladesh. Over the certificate-related activities, the committee has been empowered as the highest decision making body. The Dawra-e-Hadith will be held under the supervision of the committee. One or several sub-committees can be formed to formulate the syllabus, exam system and time, question papers, and evaluate answer scripts and other relevant activities. The committee will report to the ministry of education. Educationists say education boards cannot issue the certificates of higher education. They can do it only in respect of SSC and HSC levels. This objection of the educations has merits which the government and the Qawmi madrasa authorities can sit together to reach a consensus. As the snow has started melting between general education and Qawmi madrasa education things will get better in future.
The long estrangement from the mainstream education may make the Qawmi madrasa students feel a quite different entity in the same country. It may develop enmity between the general education and Qawmi madrasa education blocking the way of understanding each other and widening the scope of extremism. Considering these points, the decision of the government is timely.
(The writer works for BRAC Education Program as a specialist and formerly taught in cadet colleges and Rajuk college. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) (The opinion expressed is the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of GreenWatch Dhaka.)