A question in the admission test for the 2017-18 sessions in Fine Arts Faculty, Rajshahi University (RU) has sparked a controversy among aspirants and their parents along with an outcry on social media.
The 100-mark admission test, divided into two parts – 80-mark multiple choice questions (MCQ) and 20-mark written/practical test, under I Unit was held on Wednesday.
The confusion first generated among the students who sat for the exam over MCQ No 76 of the test as many alleged that the approach of the question was communal.
The question was “What is the name of the greatest book in the world?” and the options were Holy Quran, Holy Bible, Holy Injil and Gita.
After the exam, the controversy grew when the matter was shared by many on social networking sites including Facebook, leading to protests and heavy criticism.
However, Prof Mostafizur Rahman, dean of the RU Fine Arts Faculty, said that aspirants were confused because of the question’s inappropriate approach, but “it appeared in the test as arts and culture were created from religion sentiments of human beings.”
“Religions are considered to be the sources of all arts since ancient times and the question was made from that consideration. Most people are not aware of the matter which is why it seems communal to them,” he told the Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.
He, however, added that they had informed the students at the exam hall that whatever answer they give based on their religion or beliefs would be considered correct during answer sheet evaluation. “They will get that one mark regardless of what answer they chose.”
Reached for comment, educationalist and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology teacher Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said such questions were unexpected and would create severance in the society.
“Each person considers their own religion and religious book as the best and a question like this will puzzle them during the test. Personally, I do not expect such questions from a university,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Meanwhile, the MCQ No 41 of the same test has led many people to ridicule the question paper on social media as it had no right answer.
The question was “When did the Myanmar army and Buddhists launch their armed attack on Rohingya Muslims?” and the options were September 23, 2017, September 24, 2017, September 25, 2017, and September 26, 2017.
Image collected from comment section of the Facebook post made by one Gazi Nasiruddin Ahmed
While students and many others on social media said that the correct answer – August 25, 2017 – was not even among the options, they also accused the Fine Arts Faculty authorities of invoking communalism through such inappropriate questions in the admission test.
“The question paper resembled the irresponsibility and communal mindset of RU teachers and authorities as the given options were incorrect while the questions were divisive,” Mamunur Rashid, brother of an I Unit applicant told the Dhaka Tribune.
Since August 25, more than 604,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state and taken refuge in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar following brutal persecution carried out by the Myanmar army and local Buddhist fanatics.
The crackdown on the Rohingyas was launched after attacks on Myanmar security forces that day by insurgents.
A Mass Communication and Journalism Department teacher at RU, requesting anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune that the questions were alarming as they did not match the concept of a university.
“There are students from all religions, castes, classes and occupations. Such questions are humiliating for them and their religions as well. These questions are also abusive and structurally incorrect,” the teacher said.
Prof Mostafizur said that students would also get the mark for this question regarding the Rohingya issue regardless of the answer they chose.
Despite repeated attempts, RU Pro-Vice-Chancellor Ananda Kumar Saha could not be reached over his mobile phone for comments.