Dhaka University (DU) authorities will now allow madrasa students to take a chance at getting admission in all of department of the institution from the new academic session starting this year, opening a new horizon of higher education for them.
Until now, DU considered the madrasa students ineligible for enrolment in seven departments, including English, Bangla, International Relations, Women and Gender Studies and Linguistics, since their syllabus does not meet the prerequisites.
As per the previous system, these departments under the arts and social science faculties required 200 marks each in Bangla and English in HSC or equivalent exams to be eligible for admission.
However, madrasa students until now appeared with 100 marks each in these subjects during such exams following their syllabus.
Since the madrasa curriculum was updated in 2013 meeting all prerequisites, these students will now be able to take a shot at getting into in any of these seven departments they want.
“And that’s why we’ll allow madrasa students to get admission in these departments from the new academic year,” Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman, the acting Vice-Chancellor (VC) of DU, told the Dhaka Tribune.
According to educationists, madrasa board students were lagging compared to the students of other boards only because of their 100-mark tests. They said these madrasa students have been facing discrimination when it came to admission in universities and in their career as well no matter what grades they secured.
Recognising the issues, the madrasa board in 2013 introduced the 200-mark tests in Bangla and English subjects in their syllabus. Dakhil students were the first to appear in the test under the new system in 2015 and Alim students this year.
DU VC Akhtaruzzaman said: “DU has been blamed for a long-time that it doesn’t take in madrasa students, but it’s a misconception. Students from all institutions can get enrolled here if the prerequisites are met.”
Admission tests for the academic session 2017-18 at Dhaka University began on September 15.
However, some academicians are sceptical saying the university’s new move could lead to complications.
“It’s an attempt to adjust modern education system to a religious one. I don’t think this initiative will be fruitful. The mixture of students from both madrasa and general boards may cause complexity,” academician Salimullah Khan said.
Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury said: “Although madrasa students are appearing in 200-mark tests now, sitting for the admission test and getting enrolled after passing that test are different things.”
“I don’t think they can get admission in all of the departments at DU.”
Noted Islamic scholar Maulana Farid Uddin Masud, however, thought this new opportunity would help madrasa students in taking part in the country's development more using their merit and knowledge.
“Now the field of higher education for madrasa students has been widened. After so many days of discrimination, finally, they can now get the opportunity to participate in the country’s development,” he said.
Masud said only Islamic University let madrasa students enrol in any department until now. “But if all public universities introduce this facility too, higher education opportunities for madrasa students will increase more.”
University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan said it was always the public university authorities that decided who will get the admission opportunity and who will not, not the UGC.
“But I think there should be no discrimination when it comes to education,” he added.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics, there are 13,902 Qawmi madrasas across the country with around 1.4 million students.