Improving the skills and productivity of our workforce is a major policy issue for Bangladesh as we strive to compete in the highly globalised world of the 21st century, and there is a general consensus that improving the quality of our education, and access to it, is the key to achieving that.
In light of that, the government’s decision to build a Tk413.75 crore Islamic Arabic University for madrasa students begs the question: Will it help or hinder our overall education system and economic goals?
The decision seems to be in direct conflict with our efforts so far, to streamline education and to bring madrasa students into mainstream education.
Establishing an exclusively Arabic university will be more divisive than anything else and, far from helping to integrate madrasa students into the job market, will further alienate them.
The argument made by some that they can get jobs in the Middle East is also absurd for several reasons -- first of all, state policy should be directed towards the development of our own country and its people, not with the express intent of sending our people away.
And more to the point, experts have pointed out that an Islamic education in Arabic without the necessary technical skills and general knowledge will not help students qualify for respectable jobs in the Middle East.
As noted Professor Muntasir Mamun has pointed out: “There is no place for madrasa education in the developed world. This system is ultimately hampering students as there is no separate job sector for them.”
Our goal should be to help our youth succeed in today’s competitive global economy; to that end, the Tk413.75 crore allocated to this university would be better spent elsewhere.