In Chittagong there has been a strong debate about the admission of non-Muslim students in government Muslim high schools. In the 114-year history of the school, there was no rule for admitting students of any religion other than Islam. Suddenly, various discussions and criticisms are going on regarding the admission of students of other religions in the admission of 2024. Apart from former students of the school, people from different classes of Chittagong are expressing their opinions for and against it.
In the meantime, six Hindu students have been admitted for the first time in the fifth, sixth and ninth classes in the current academic year, breaking the tradition of 114 years. According to school administration sources, this number may increase till the end of admission on December 14.
Mumtaz Akhtar, headmistress of the Government Muslim High School, confirmed the matter on Monday (December 11).
He said, “According to the government guidelines, if any student of any religion gets a chance in our school through lottery, we will admit that student.” We have already admitted six students. School admission will continue till 14th. Religion is not an issue for me. My point is that those who have passed the lottery should be admitted, those who have merit will be admitted.
The social media has been abuzz with this issue. Some of them are against the admission of students of different religions in Muslim high schools, while others are in favor. However, a large section of former students of the school criticized the decision. They consider such a decision to be a ‘cunning’ to gain political advantage by confusing the situation around the election. The arrow of their complaint is towards a top political leader of Chittagong associated with the education sector.
In taking such a decision before the polls, many see a ‘trick’ to woo Hindu voters.
Meanwhile, recently drawing the attention of the Ministry of Education, a banner has been pasted in front of the main gate of the Muslim High School by the ‘Combined Parents and Students Struggle Council’ asking ‘not to include non-Muslim students in the admission lottery’. Later, however, that banner was no longer seen.
Government Muslim High School is a government secondary school adjacent to Kotwali police station in Chittagong. The school was established in 1909 AD as the Anglo-Persian department of the Chittagong Government Madrasa established with the financial contribution of Danbir Haji Muhammad Mohsin. The school has 10 buildings and provides classes from Class V to Class X. Currently, its student population is more than two and a half thousand.
Meanwhile, a community welcomed the admission of students of different religions in Muslim high schools, breaking the tradition of 114 years, saying that religious discrimination in educational institutions is not desirable in any way. Everyone should have equal opportunity to participate in government institutions.
But most are criticizing it. They say, in the history of 114 years, teaching is going on in Muslim high schools according to various customs of Islam. Why should students of other religions come to the institution which was born for Muslim students? Muslim high school children wear hats, meaning that each student or students is within a religious discipline. How to adjust if children of other religions are admitted there?
In this regard, Chittagong Deputy Commissioner Abul Basar Mohammad Fakhruzzaman said, “It is the Ministry of Education’s decision on the admission process through lottery.” The Ministry of Education has said that those who will pass the lottery, there is no issue of sectarianism or religious discrimination. Those who pass the lottery and qualify the merit list will be admitted there. I cannot speak against the decision of the ministry.
In the first decade of the 20th century, the then Danbir Haji Muhammad Mohsin took the initiative to form the Mohsin Fund from his wealth. Initially he established a charity fund and later a fund named Mohsin Fund. He directed that the money of this fund should be spent on children’s education.He established a madrasa named Chittagong Mohsinia Madrasa to promote Muslim education in the subcontinent. Later Mohsinia Madrasah was transformed into two institutions namely Mohsin High School and Government Mohsin College. Meanwhile, as the number of Muslim students increased, an English-Persian department was introduced under Muslim leaders and under the supervision of Mohsin Madrasah. In 1909, the school was transferred from that madrasa division.
Former students of the school include the then Minister of Education and Planning of Burma Sultan Mahmud, current Minister of Information Hasan Mahmud, recently resigned Minister of Science and Technology Yafes Osman, Chittagong City Corporation Mayor Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, former Mayor AJM Nashir Uddin, former Deputy Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad Sultan Ahmed Chowdhury, music artist Ayub Bachchu, journalist Nazrul Azad and others.