Four textbooks, approved by Bangladesh Madrasa Education Board, were canceled for containing controversial information. After cancellation, the books were revised and then sent back to madrasas across Bangladesh.
According to sources from Ministry of Education and National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB), the whole procedure cost the government around Tk14.2 crore.
The books, which were revised for 2018 academic year, are VII and VIII grade textbooks “Al Aqaid Wal Fiqh,” and “Quran Majeed and Tajweed” and “Hadith Sharif” for IX and X grade students.
NCTB sources confirmed that a total of 2,389,776 copies of the four textbooks were distributed to madrasas in district and upazila level on September, 2017.
Officials concerned later complained that the books contained controversial material, including defamation of Islam.
Under the circumstances, NCTB directed district education officers to return the books for revision in November, 2017. Following revision, the books were sent back to madrasas.
Addressing the issue, NCTB member (Texbook) Mia Enamul Haque said: “The government spent Tk13.4 crore to print these textbooks. Recollecting the books for revision from district and upazila level cost Tk8 lakh. So, the total expenditure stands at Tk14.2 crore.”
Islamic Foundation's Director General Shamim Mohammed Afzal raised objections about the content in the textbooks, terming them defamatory and satirical to Islam.
He sent a letter to Chairman of Madrasa Education Board Prof AKM Saif Ullah in this regard.
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The cancelled “Hadith Sharif” textbook for IX and X grade contains this text in page 53: “Tumi ki tomar ma ke bibostro obosthay dekhte pochhondo koro?” Rashid Al Ruhani/Bangla Tribune
The letter mentioned that those textbooks had defamatory statements about Islam in at least 15 passages. This correspondent has also collected copies of the cancelled and revised editions of the above mentioned textbooks.
The cancelled “Hadith Sharif” textbook for IX and X grade contains this text in page 53: “Tumi ki tomar ma ke bibostro obosthay dekhte pochhondo koro?” which roughly translates to: “Do you like seeing your mother naked?”
Complaints were raised over the use of the word “bibostro” (naked). So, the sentence was changed to: “Tumi ki tomar ma ke osompurno poshake dekhte pochhondo koro?” which roughly translates to: “Do you like seeing your mother in revealing clothes?”
On page 328 of the same book, a passage states: “Prothomoto mod ke ekti neyamot o akorshoniyo panio hishebe pobitro Quran-e ullekh kora hoyechhe,” which roughly translates to: “The Holy Quran describes alcoholic drinks as one the blessings and attractive beverages.” The revised copy omitted the sentence.
Page 178 of the cancelled textbook “Quran Majeed and Tajweed” contains wrong information regarding sexual intercourse. On page 424, the same book describes leadership of women as “haram” or forbidden. Both of these passages have been corrected in the revised edition.
Page 66 of VIII grade textbook “Al Aqaid Wal Fiqh” states: “Al Quran musolman-der songbidhan,” which roughly translates to: “Al Quran is the Constitution of Muslims.” The line was revised in the recent edition.
According to the NCTB authorities, the Technical Education Department and Madrasa Division under the Education Ministry, and Madrasa Education Board is responsible for creating and editing these textbooks.
“NCTB only prints these textbooks. So, it will not be held responsible for any errors and revisions,” NCTB sources told the correspondent.
Commenting on the issue, NCTB Chairman Prof Narayan Chandra Saha said: “Technical Education Department and Madrasa Division under the Education Ministry sent us a letter directing us to revise and reprint these four textbooks. We do not have any other information in the subject.”
However, Chairman of Madrasa Education Board Prof AKM Saif Ullah has put the full blame on NCTB.
“I have nothing to say about this. Writers and editors of these textbooks first get approval from the National Curriculum Coordination Committee, and then the NCTB prints those books. It is also their (NCTB) responsibility to revise those books before printing them. NCTB will have a better explanation regarding this debacle,” he added.
Meanwhile, commenting on the matter, Education Ministry Secretary Md Alamgir said: “The Prime Minister Office directed that the textbooks be revised.
“Those responsible for the blunder will face stern action.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune