Madrasah education has a longstanding history in the Indian subcontinent as well as Bangladesh. Madrasah education is targeted towards integrating secular and Islamic religious knowledge.
Madrasah education has been thought to become outdated. However, there have been developments of English medium madrasahs in Dhaka.
The following discussion will focus on the structure and aspects of madrasah education in respect to general education with the hope of clarifying the details for the readers.
Various Curriculum in Madrasah Education
Following are the various types and levels of madrasahs described briefly:
Maktab is Arabic for schools where children learn about Islamic elementary subjects. Maktabs are primary Islamic education institutes. This is where the basic rules of Islam and the Quran are taught to the children.
This arrangement is mostly found in local mosques where the Muazzin of the Imam plays the role of instructor.
These are slightly different from all other forms of madrasahs. Hafizia madrasahs are intended to make students memorize the holy Quran by heart. The fundamentals of Islam are also taught in this type of madrasah.
This is a form of the private education system. They are completely autonomous and provide traditional Islamic education. The curriculum for Qawmi madrasahs is formulated according to the Islamic Deobandi Model.
Qawmi madrasahs are really similar to general education in the sense that they are taught English, Bengali, geography, science, mathematics, and sociology until 8th grade.
However, the main focus is on providing theological education on Quran, Advanced Arabic and Literature, Hadith, Fiqh. They learn Farsi and Urdu in Qawmi madrasahs as well.
The idea is not to make scientists, engineers, or doctors. However, Islamic education and quality are beyond question. There is an optional scope of training for the teachers.
The majority of them do not go for the subject-based training since they are not mandatory. There is also frustration among the teachers regarding earnings and salary.
The government did not accredit or recognize degrees under the Qawmi system. However, most of the Qawmi madrasahs were unified under the Befaqul Madarisil Arabia education board recently, and the government started recognizing degrees from Qawmi backgrounds.
Alia madrasahs are the public schools of the madrasah education board. The government operates this entire education system. The education provided in Alia madrasahs is augmented with religious knowledge. These madrasahs thrive on producing skilled graduates. In 1987, they introduced science and humanities groups in their curriculum.
Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board is solely responsible for all the regulations related to Alia madrasahs. Students in the general group of Alia madrasahs learn social sciences, arts, and Islamic studies. Arabic, Islamic history, the Quran, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) consist of the curriculum.
The curriculum for science departments consists of mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and ICT. However, this system has been on the decline due to the lack of teachers with proper training and stigma around the education system.
One unfortunate fact about Alia madrasahs is that they have developed malpractice of teachers with no science background teaching science. This has been affecting further productivity of the students of the science departments such as mathematics, biology, physics, and chemistry.
Levels of Madrasah Education
Just like general education, madrasah education also maintains some levels of education. They are as follows:
This is equivalent to primary education (grades 1-5). Ebtedayee exams are for madrasah education what Primary School certificates or PSC exams are for general education. This level is regulated under Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board (BMEB).
This level starts at the 6th grade and ends at the 10th grade. In other words, this is equivalent to the secondary level of general education. Anyone passing their Dakhil exam would be considered equivalent to having passed SSC exams from a general education background.
Alim exams are equivalent to HSC exams in general education. It includes grades 11 and 12.
This level is equivalent to university degrees. Unlike universities, Fazil exams require 2 years of institutional education.
This is equivalent to a master’s degree. Kamil exams require 2 years of prior institutional education.
Madrasah education is similar to general education in many ways. The major difference lies in the incorporation of Islamic education with the regular subjects.
Though madrasah education was thought to be outdated, recent times have seen a change in the trend. Hopefully, the discussion above was informative enough to clarify some misconceptions about madrasah education.