He says those exercising free speech should remain respectful of the constitution’s mandate for non-discrimination
Deputy Minister for Education Barrister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel has said that Hefazat chief Shafi’s remarks against sending girls to school will not affect the forward march of women’s education.
He made the comment during a view-exchange meeting with journalists at his Chashma Hill residence in the city on Saturday.
Without directly mentioning Shafi, Nowfel said: "Whoever has made the comment, it is his personal opinion. He is not holding any executive post in formulating curricula, education management or any education sector. There is no scope for implementing his ideas in state policy.”
The deputy minister for education said one person’s views would not have any effect on the onward march of women education.
"Women are now advancing rapidly in education. The incumbent government puts the highest priority to women’s education," he said.
Fundamentalist Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam chief Shah Ahmad Shafi’s oath to refrain girls from studing at schools and colleges has garnered widespread criticism.
The ninety-nine-year-old asked his followers to make this vow while addressing an annual religious gathering at Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Madrasa, also known as Hathazari Madrasa, in Chittagong on Friday.
Also read - Shafi: Do not send girls to schools, colleges
“Do not let girls study at schools and colleges. At best, you can allow them to study up to fourth or fifth grade. If you let them study any more... You have seen in the newspapers that... If you educate your girl up to ninth, tenth, MA, BA levels then that girl will not remain yours.
“If you educate your girls, other men will snatch away your girls,” he said.
“Every citizen can exercise his freedom of speech,” Nowfel said in his reaction.
“He has the right to speak his mind. However, I would like to remind everyone exercising free speech that the constitution ensures equal rights for all of us. We cannot make discriminatory statements,” said the deputy minister.
Speaking about communalization of curricula, Nowfel said that Bangladesh Awami League is a believer in secularist political ideology.
The young parliamentarian said this communalization threatened to create division in young minds and threaten the long-term stability of the nation.
“Our constitution mandates a secular state. We will all follow the tenets of our respective religions, But a non-communal, secular curricula is essential, as is the improvement of religious studies,” he said.
He said action had been taken against those who had worked to remove stories and poems by progressive writers from textbooks.
“We will remain alert so that such acts can no longer be carried out,” he added.
Nowfel claimed that revolutionary changes had taken place in the country's education sector.
"Different steps to improve the education sector were undertaken during the Awami League regime. Revolutionary changes have taken place in the education sector. We will try our level best to keep up the trend," he said.