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British Policy and Reform of Madrasah Education in Bengal (1780-1947)

With the inception of British colonial rule in Bengal in 1757 and the subsequent introduction of modern education in the sub-continent, reform in the centuries-ages, traditional madrasah education become the hot-seed bed of debates. Now these days this has become the burning issue not only in Bangladesh, but also in South and West Asia, America and Europe. The word “madrasah” is extracted from Arabic language. This word stands for a place or centre for Islamic education, research and teaching. In essence, madrasah is a seat of learning which like any school and college, plays a pioneering role in the dissemination of knowledge. Majority of the Muslims in this country regard madrasah education as the fundamental education of Islam.. During British Policy and Reform of Madrasah Education in Bengal (1780-1947) the Muslim age (1204-1757) madrasahs of Bengal, generally were the institutes for traditional Islamic higher education. Madrasahs providing lower education were known as maktabs, where primary level of education was given on religious basis. During that period maktabs and madrasahs of Bengal were run privately. At that time, to achieve knowledge was considered by each and every Muslim man and woman to be their religious obligation or the means to satisfy the Creator. During the British period (1757- 1947) initiative was taken to bring madrasah and maktab education under government control and to reform this education system for modernisation. In our research we will observe how sciences and other modern subjects including English were introduced in madrasah education system under the British Government. In this research an elaborate picture would be drawn about the achievement in modernisation of madrasah education of Bengal. We will also focus on the success achieved in the field of reform and modernisation of madrasah education of Bengal with the help of public- private effort and evaluate the extent of its failure. Besides, we also attempt to shed light on the reaction and backlash perceived in the education system and Muslim society during the period.

Authored by Dr. Md. Abdullah Al- Masum

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