Bangladesh Islamic Foundation is moving forward with plans to launch its own line of madrasas where Urdu and Arabic will be given priority.
Draft syllabuses and curricula of this proposed new education system have already been prepared by the foundation’s research department.
Currently, there are two types of madrasas in Bangladesh: state-sponsored Alia madrasas; and Qawmi madrasas that are run on private donations.
Islamic Foundation - an autonomous body set up under the Ministry of Religious Affairs to “preach and propagate the values and ideals of Islam” - will start classes from grade I to grade V. It hopes classes will eventually run up to MA level.
The proposal has already been passed and will be implemented soon. A conference to be held on July 29 will finalise the draft curriculum and syllabus.
“We are emphasising more on Arabic,” Islamic Foundation Director General Shamim Mohammad Afjal said. “We will start implementing some of the projects that have already been approved.”
He said they were opting to teach religious studies under the Arabic curriculum as “there were some distortions in the Bangla translation”.
“We have received approval [for running classes] up to grade V, so we will start that soon. The proposal for grade VI to MA is being processed. The institution will be called Darul Arkam,” Afjal added.
Islamic Foundation sources said the organisation lacks the necessary manpower and infrastructure to introduce an education system with a new curriculum.
“Initially, classes will be added to the foundation’s ongoing mosque-based initiative,” said Abdul Hye Bhuiyan, director of Islamic Foundation’s research department.
He sidestepped a question on plans for building infrastructure for introducing classes from grade VI to MA, saying: “The director general can give you an answer”.
The new curriculum
A review of the draft revealed that the Islamic Foundation had completed the draft syllabus up to Honours or ‘Fazil’ level.
For introducing ‘Darul Arkam’ or primary education, the draft discusses some issues prominently:
- Aim and objective of the Darul Arkam Ebtedayee madrasas
- Marginal eligibility of Ebtedayee madrasas
- Madrasa curriculum
- Syllabus and allocation of marks
- Islamic Foundation proposed Hifz section syllabus and marks allocation; and
- Islamic Foundation compiled syllabus and allocation of marks from grade I to BA Honours
According to section 23 of the draft, the objective of the Darul Arkam is to create Nayeb-e-Rasul by following Quran and Sunnah in line with the National Education Policy 2010.
This will encourage students “to live exemplary lives” through developing their physical, psychological, ethical and spiritual faculties, and by cultivating religious and social awareness, patriotism, creativity and scientific thinking in them.
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Under the new curriculum, madrasa students are expected to gain proficiency in Urdu, Persian, English and mathematics, while expanding their capacity for independent thinking and practising democratic norms Rajib Dhar
Students are also expected to gain proficiency in Urdu, Persian, English and mathematics. They are also encouraged to grow a civic sense, while expanding their capacity for independent thinking, and for practising democratic norms.
Apart from Bangla, Section 6 of the draft says a base will be created for the students so that they are able to speak, read, and write Arabic, and are able to make others understand.
Section 19 emphasises learning English as a medium of international communication and learning Urdu as a tool to help practice religious knowledge in the sub-continent.
Forty sections in the draft discuss the marginal eligibility of Darul Arkam. They include believing in, and practicing, the seven fundamentals of the Islamic faith.
It also emphasises the importance of imagination, curiosity, creativity and developing an interest in expanding their learning.
Syllabus and marks allocation
According to the syllabus, pre-primary students will study Qiratul Quran, religious studies, Al Lugatul Arabia, Al Hadisun Nababi, Bangla, English, handwriting and mathematics. In this grade, 400 marks have been allocated across five periods.
In the first grade, students will study Qiratul Quran, Fiqhul Islami, Lugatul Arabia, Al Hadisun Nababi, Bangla, English, handwriting and maths. From grade I to III, 500 marks have been allocated across six subjects.
Apart from these subjects, general and social sciences have been included in grade IV. The grade will have a total of 650 marks.
A total of 700 marks have been allocated for seven subjects in the fifth grade and 750 marks in the sixth grade. The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NTCB) will be in charge of publishing Bangla, social science, maths, English and general science books for these grades.
NTCB books will be taught alongside Islamic studies from grade VII to X.
In the two-year grade IX-X course, students will learn Quran translation, Hadith, Arabic language, Fiqh, history of Islam, Bangla and English. They will sit exams for 1,200 marks.
Grade XI and XII will also be a two-year course but the exams will carry 1,400 marks. Economics, social science, anthropology, history, sociology, statistics and geography will be taught in this course.
In the four-year Honours programme, 40 courses will be taught in eight semesters – five in each semester. First-year students will learn Quran and have Bangla as mandatory subsidiary course. Second-year students will have mandatory English courses.
But third-year students can choose a subsidiary subject among Tasauf, Arabic literature or language. Final-year students will have to choose either Hadith, Usulul Hadith or Islamic Fikh as subsidiary. Final year exams will carry 800 marks.
What the experts say
People related with madrasas and education say they believe that a separate curriculum is unnecessary in the continued presence of Alia and Qawmi madrasas.
University Grants Commission Chairman Professor Abdul Mannan pointed out that there are many madrasas in the country. “I do not think that we need a new system,” he said.
Mannan said there had been no discussion on the new curriculum within the Islamic Foundation’s governing body, of which he is a member.
“There has been no discussion on introduction of a new curriculum at any of the conferences I have been to,” he said. “Instead of introducing a new curriculum, there should be efforts to coordinate Alia and Qawmi madrasas.”
Qawmi Madrasa Education Board Secretary General Maulana Abdul Kuddus said: “Qawmi madrasas already exist. There are Alia madrasas for those who want to study in public institutions. Then why do we need a new system?”
This story was first published on the Bangla Tribune