Madrasah Education Board in the Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh celebrated its first convocation with 92 students from academic department receiving the traditional turbans in recognition their graduation and 160 others from tahfiz department for memorizing the Holy Quran completely.

The convocation was held in the headquarter of the board at Balukhali 1, Camp 9, Block G18 on February 7, 2020.

The newly founded education board known as “Wifaq al-Madaris al-Arabia al-Rohingiya” leads 92 madrasah (a term used to refer to private educational institution in Arakan commonly religious) located in different parts of the camps employing hundreds of teachers mostly on voluntary basis and accommodating thousands of students, according to the board director, Anisul Mustafa.

In an interview with RVision Mustafa told “In the last academic year, 120 final year students from seven madrasas participated in the examination held in four different centers, of whom 92 students fulfilled the graduation requirements. There were also 160 students who successfully memorized the Holy Quarn.” adding “There was centralized examination for five classes. In the next academic year, about 136 institutions are expected to join the board.”

The institutions under Wifaq adopted the same curriculum, methodology, rules, regulations and policies.

The curriculum adopted by these institutions is called Dars-i Nizami which originated in the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century and is used in its traditional Islamic institutions including Darul Uloom Deoband.

Dars-i Nezami offers mostly religious sciences including Quran and its Exegesis, Hadith and its Principles, Jurisprudence and its Principles, Logics, Ancient Philosophy, Morphology, Syntax, Literature, Exegesis, Theology, Prophetic Biography, Eloquence Art, etc.

It is a 12 years course and the text books are mostly in Arabic, but the medium of instruction used is Rohingya and Urdu as they follow in the footsteps of Darul Uloom Deoband, India.

Anisul Mustafa further told “We have very limited resources. Yet we are striving to educate the new generation. Without a formal education system, our children and youths in the camps are vulnerable to exploitation by drug dealers, extremist ideologists, human traffickers, etc. These educational institutions are committed not only to safeguard them but also to teach them good behaviors, educate them, give them true knowledge about their worldly life and the hereafter.”

Since 2012 Myanmar government locked all the madrasas and mosques and banned Muslim students from pursuing their studies in public institutions. The students who recently graduated in the camps are those who could not complete their studies due to government’s lockdown of their schools in 2012 and the cleansing crackdown in 2016 and beyond.

This private education system known as “madrasah” has been playing a very significant role in preserving Rohingya’s ethnic, cultural and religious identities in Arakan State amid ongoing genocide and various other restrictions, which never received any government support and instead it had always to fight the government’s hostile attitude and Islamophobia.