chapter  6
21 Pages

Islamist politics and education

ByALI RIAZ

Since Bangladesh became an independent nation in 1971, education and especially the curriculum, has been a site of contestation between Bangladesh’s various social groups and classes. Education policy has been on the agenda of almost all governments since 1971 and political parties and civil society groups alike have battled to make their mark on education in as many ways. The secular Bengali nationalist movement that culminated in the founding of Bangladesh promised a universal and uniform system of education. Consequently, the constitution formulated in 1972 stipulated that the state would provide free compulsory education to all children between the ages of six and ten years. 1 While this goal remained enshrined in the constitution, after 35 years of independence more than half of the population remain illiterate. Successive governments have failed to deliver a high-quality, uniform education for all of its citizens. Instead, the education sector is fragmented along social class lines with few opportunities for the socially and economically disadvantaged to obtain a decent education.