‘The Story of Sharifa’: Bangladesh forms panel to review textbook lesson on third gender community

The five-strong committee will assist the textbook board with an in-depth review of the lesson on third-gender people, an official says

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 24 Jan 2024, 12:24 PM
Updated : 24 Jan 2024, 12:24 PM

The government has formed a five-member committee to review the much-discussed lesson ‘The Story of Sharifa’ in the history and social science textbook of Class VII.

Dr Mohammad Abdur Rashid, vice chancellor of Islamic Arabic University, has been made convener of the committee, education ministry spokesperson Abul Khayer said on Wednesday.

The members are Kafil Uddin Sarker, governor of the Islamic Foundation, Md Moshiuzzaman, member of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board or NCRB, Professor Abdul Halim, director of Dhaka University’s Institute of Education and Research, and Professor Abdur Rashid, the principal of Government Madrasah-e-Alia, Dhaka.

The committee will assist the NCTB by reviewing the lesson with an in-depth discussion over the debate sparked by the story on third gender people, Khayer said.

Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury Nowfel on Tuesday suggested a review of the lesson using expert opinion.

The inclusion of the lesson, ‘The Story of Sharifa’, in the chapter on similarities and differences between people in the book stirred debate among parents after the distribution of the books earlier this year.

Now netizens and a group of students of BRAC University have joined the fray after the sacking of BRAC University part-time teacher Asif Mahtab Utsha, who tore up pages containing the story in a discussion on the new curriculum on Friday.

Some of them argue that homosexuality and transsexuality are being promoted under the veil of this story.

The other side argues those opposing the story’s inclusion in the textbook have failed to shun a negative mentality and are obstructing steps to include a community often left behind.

BRAC UNIVERSITY CALM

A group of students protesting under the banner of BRAC University Students Community against the sacking of Asif called for a boycott of classes and BRAC products on Tuesday, but classes and exams resumed as usual at the institution on Wednesday.

No demonstration was held outside the campus in Badda either.

Francis Farid, convenor of the platform, told bdnews24.com on Wednesday that a section of the protesters announced the boycott, but not all of them agreed to it.

“We’ve postponed our protests as the education minister said he would talk about the issue. Our movement against homosexuality will continue. We’ll raise awareness,” he said.

Another leader of the protesters, Muntasir Mamun, said a group of demonstrators overenthusiastically called for a boycott of classes.

“We discussed the issue with the teachers and they listened to us. It’s our university, why would we boycott classes?”

A spokesperson for the private institution said classes and exams were held normally.

The orientation of freshers was also held on Wednesday, the spokesperson said.