A number of fatal mistakes have raised the question about qualification of writers of textbooks as well as the callousness and fallacy of the textbook authorities of Bangladesh.
Two serious errors in the fourth grade textbook titled ‘Bangladesh O Bishwaporichoy’ (Bangladesh and Introduction of the World) have survived for year after year.
The book concerned was first published in September 2012. The revised version was released in September 2015 which was reprinted in August 2019. The book was, however, written and edited by four ‘famous’ educationists, all having their Doctorate degrees. They are Dr Mahbuba Nasreen, Dr Abdul Malek, Dr Ishani Chakrabarty and Dr Selina Akhter.
Moreover, an innumerous number of highly educated bureaucrats of the ministry concerned and millions of teachers of the country are also involved with the book.
Yet, these two major mistakes survive unnoticed to those people not only for one or two-year, but for long last eight years. And, it is only pitying that our tender-hearted, juvenile students are getting older by learning the mistakes from their heart.
It is just proof that how the senior officials of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) are assigning their duties. How indifferent and irresponsible they are!
There might be hundreds of such mistakes and misinformation, only two of which have been detected in ‘Bangladesh O Bishwaporichoy’ book prescribed for students of class four. This book has been included as a mandatory subject in the syllabus of students of class four of the country from 2013. Millions of teachers and students of the country are teaching and learning the contents of the book for years.
On page 58 of the book, one of the major tourist destinations of the country, Jaflong in Gowainghat upazila of Sylhet is introduced as, “Jaflong is located at the foot of the Himalayan mountains to the north of Sylhet. ‘Khasi’ is a small ethnic group living there. A lot of mountain rocks flow from the ‘Mari’ river here.”
But it is known to all, that the name of the country located at the foothills of the Himalayan is Nepal, not Jaflong or Bangladesh. Nepal is also called as the ‘Daughter of the Himalayans’. In fact, the hill on which foothills, Jaflong actually is located is called Khasia-Jaintia Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is also called as the Meghalaya Hills.
Just alike the phrase ‘mountain rocks flow from the ‘Mari' river here’ is also incorrect, as there is no river in the Sylhet division called ‘Mari’. The actual name of the river which crisscrossing Jaflong is ‘Piyain’.
However, after running several miles downstream, the river took the name ‘Sari’, not ‘Mari’ as mentioned in the textbook.
Even the sentence structure of the phrase is quite erroneous, according to the opinion of several teachers and journalists who have a good knowledge about Bengali literature.
Many conscious, elite class of people of the country, however, can’t accept such grave mistakes of turning Jaflong as a tourism centre situated below the Himalayan mountains and naming ‘Sari’ river as ‘Mari’ river.
Some primary school teachers said, such grave mistakes in textbooks for children can’t be accepted. “We can’t teach any mistake to our students. We can’t teach them these misinformation, but the students are being misinformed through this book,” said Numan Ahmed, a teacher at Ramprosad Govt Primary School at Jaintiapur in Sylhet.
However, many teachers of the country don’t know whether these are misinformation or not due to their ignorance, and that is why they are teaching children these misinformation.
Talking on the issue, Shakhawat Hossain, Sylhet Divisional Deputy Director of Directorate of Primary Education, said, “Everyone knows that the Himalayan Mountains are in Nepal. It is a big mistake! I will look into the matter seriously.”
However, referring to matter of ‘Sari’ river becoming ‘Mari’ River, he said, “Locals may call it ‘Sari’ river, but The National Curriculum and Textbook Board may have found it as ‘Mari’ in an old record. I don’t know what actually happened.”
“I will see the matter, then confirm the name of the river with the help of the Water Development Board and inform the National Curriculum and Textbook Board, as they are the one that publish the books. So, I will let them know and do as much as I can,” he added.
Talking to this reporter, Abdul Hye Al-Hadi, a researcher and president of Sari Nodi Bachao Andolon (Movement for Saving Sari River), said that there is no river named ‘Mari’. No document or old record will be found in this regard.
He further said that the errors prove that the senior officials of the NCTB are not paying any heed to it. The children of Bangladesh were growing up learning these two misinformation for eight years in a row!
Prof Narayan Chandra Saha, chairman of the NCTB, said that he will look at the book and then will take necessary step in this regard.
Contacted, Dr. Mahbuba Nasreen, a professor of Dhaka University and one of the writers of the book, said that they would revise the textbook if any mistake is found.