Published by Seth Oldmixon on January 23, 2017

Concerns as Islamists Rewrite Textbooks in Bangladesh

Bangladesh textbooks

Intellectuals in Pakistan have long lamented the role of textbooks in radicalizing society. Today, similar concerns are being raised in Bangladesh. According to a new report in the New York Times, government produced textbooks are being rewritten under the guidance of extremist groups like Hefazat-e-Islam.

“We went to the higher-ups in the government,” Mufti Fayez Ullah, the group’s joint secretary general, said. “The government realized, ‘Yes, the Muslims should not learn this.’ So they amended it. I want to add that all the political parties, they consider their popularity among the people.”

A spokesperson for the government declined to comment, but secular activists such as Nur E Emroz Alam Tonoy are speaking out.

How hard it is for AL leaders to understand, that religious fundamentalism is a chronic illness- wherever it spreads, oppression and injustice follows. They should not be allowed to get a grip on our kids’ education system under any circumstances.

The danger posed by allowing extremist ideology to influence educational curriculum has been documented in research such as Dr. Madiha Afzal’s 2015 report, Education and Attitudes in Pakistan.

Last month, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, called on teachers to “mobilise public opinion and wage a social movement against terrorism and extremism.” In order for teachers to heed her call, Prime Minister Hasina must ensure that teachers have the tools they need, and radical Islamists are not empowered to rewrite Bangladesh’s textbooks and sow the seeds of extremism in society.