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A Story of a Great man in Bangladesh
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Educational Reforms


The entire service life of Khanbahadur Ahsanullah was spent in the Department of Education. During the culminating phase of his service life, when he was promoted to the higher ranks, he put the experiences derived from years of dedication and hard work to the best use. During his time, many commendable reforms took place in the education field, with particular reference to education of the Muslim students, due to his personal initiative. Below are some of the educational reform programmes undertaken during his time:

1. During that time, there was the tradition of writing the names of the students in the examination papers. Many people believed that this open-identity went against the interests of a section of the students. For this reason, Khanbahadur Ahsanullah went all out to introduce the system of writing the roll numbers of students instead of their names. This was first applied in the Honours and M.A examinations and later also followed in the I.A and B.A examinations of the time.

2. He elevated the standard of education in both the higher madrassah and secondary madrassah classes and created congenial atmosphere for the students to enter colleges and universities after completing the madrassah education.

3. During that time, he created posts for maulavis or Muslim religious teachers in all schools and colleges and eliminated the wage disparity between the Hindu pundits or priests and Muslim maulavis.

4. Urdu, during those days was not considered among the "classical languages". This created problems for the Urdu-speaking students in West Bengal. It was through his initiative that Urdu occupied the place of Sanskrit.

5. It was by dint of his active initiative that the proposal for establishing a separate college exclusively for the Muslim students in Calcutta was approved. This gave birth to the Islamia College. Hurley, the principal of Calcutta Madrassah was appointed the first principal of the college.

6. He was instrumental in establishing many muktabs or elementary schools, Muslim high schools and it was for him that many Muslim teachers got their appointments. He also played a major role in stablishing many Muslim Hostels. The Baker Hostel, Taylor Hostel, Karmichael Hostel, Moslem Institute etc., situated at the heart of Calcutta, hold evidence to his contribution.

7. The Fuller Hostel of Rajshahi is a glowing witness to his immortal contributions.

During the construction of this hostel for the Muslim students,  he faced multifaceted obstacles. In spite of continuos hurdles set by the opposition and their negative remarks, such as, "why waste so much money to build a hostel in an earthquake-prone area like Rajshahi .. what is the use", he managed the required permission and funding from the British authorities to build the hostel.

8. He introduced an independent educational curriculum for the muktab students and made provisions so that Muslim students could study the books written by Muslim scholars. This created the opportunity for Muslim scholars to write textbooks and also improve the lot of the Muslim book-publishers. For the founding and survival of institutions like Makhdumi Library, Provincial Library and Islamia Library, he had enormous contributions. During that time, famous novels like “Bisad Sindhu”, “Anowara”, “Manowara” etc. were published by Makhdumi Library.

9. In the schools and colleges, he readjusted the ratio of stipends for the Muslim students and made provisions so that increasing number of poor but meritorious students could study free of cost. He also removed the hurdles faced by the Muslim students in receiving government fellowships to go for higher learning in foreign countries.

10. It was through his initiative that the representation and membership of the Muslim community was ensured in the Textbook Committee. He also made some readjustments in the volume of representation by the Muslim examiners, in the number of Muslim inspection officials in the Department of Education, in the volume of Muslim students studying at the training college and also in the number of representation by Muslims in the managing committees of schools and colleges.

11. It was through his efforts that the New Scheme Madrassah, which introduced education in English side by side Arabic, was established. He also played a pioneering role in consolidating the status of Arabic as the "second language" in the high schools.

12. Some specialised schools and colleges were founded for the female Muslim students as a result of his personal initiative. He prepared congenial atmosphere for them to receive education and become complete human beings.

13. Besides, the Governor of undivided Bengal on June 30, 1914, through Resolution No. 2474, formed a high-level committee to propose recommendations for the improvement of three distinct streams of Muslim education. The Director of the Provincial Assembly was appointed the chairman of the committee. Khanbahadur Ahsanullah was one of the leading members of the committee. The recommendations of this committee had a far­reaching impact on the development and progress of Muslim education.

14. In those days, Khanbahadur Ahsanullah represented in all the committees and conferences relating to education in East Bengal either as member or in any other official capacities. When a furious debate took hold of the Legislative Assembly regarding the Medium of Education, the then Chief Secretary brought to the notice of the assembly, an article written in this regard by Khanbahadur Ahsanullah.

15. He also had active contributions in the formation of Dhaka University. A major hue and cry was raised when the draft bill on Dhaka University was placed before the Senate and a special committee was formed later on to recommend on the issue. As an outstanding member of the committee, highlighting the need for such an institution, he recommended that the bill be passed.

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Copyright © 2008 Monirun Nessa Begum, PhD. All rights reserved.