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‘Sharifa’s Tale’ Removed from Class 7 Textbook

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Sharifa's Tale

The Ministry of Education has decided to remove “Sharifa’s Tale” from the History and Social Science textbook for class 7, following recommendations from a probe committee, according to media reports.

The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) has been instructed by the ministry to take the necessary steps to implement this change.

An official from the NCTB stated, “The story will be replaced with another on the same topic but with a different narrative.”

“Sharifa’s Tale” addresses the experiences and challenges faced by a third gender or “Hijra” individual. However, it attracted controversy after Asif Mahtab, a part-time lecturer at Brac University, objected to its inclusion, claiming that “students were being introduced to transgender and homosexual concepts through the story.”

A video of Asif Mahtab tearing out the pages of the textbook containing the story went viral on social media.

On 23 January, Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury told reporters at the Secretariat that any inconsistencies in the story would be addressed and amended.

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Primary Schools in Divisional Cities Closed for Safety

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Primary Schools

The Primary and Mass Education Ministry has declared the closure of all primary schools within the city corporation areas of eight divisional cities, citing concerns for children’s safety.

Senior Information Officer Mahbubur Rahman stated, “The class programs of these institutes will remain closed until further instruction. The decision has been taken considering the safety of the children.”

Additionally, the ministry has suspended classes at primary schools managed by the Shishu Kalyan Trust and learning centers operated by the Bangladesh Bureau of Education Information and Statistics.

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Uni Teachers Halt Classes Over Pension Scheme

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Pension teacher

Demanding the withdrawal of the “Prottoy” universal pension scheme, teachers at public universities across the country, including Dhaka University, have suspended all academic and administrative activities indefinitely starting today (1 July).

No classes or exams have taken place on campus since this morning.

“The protest against the new pension scheme has commenced with the suspension of academic activities. It will persist until the government withdraws the scheme,” stated Dr. Akhtarul Islam, president of the Bangladesh University Teachers Samity Federation.

However, a visit to the geography department of Dhaka University revealed that administrative activities not involving teachers remained operational.

“The administrative offices are open, but all classrooms are locked,” said Fariha, a geography department student.

Nizam Haq Bhuiyan, general secretary of the Dhaka University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), announced a two-day protest with teachers’ demands.

“Our program will begin at 12pm in front of the Faculty of Arts today and continue until 1pm,” he said.

Today also marks the 104th founding anniversary of Dhaka University. Students were seen attending the program at TSC despite light rain.

On 13 March, the government introduced the Prottoy scheme for employees joining public universities and other organisations under the scheme from 1 July 2024 onwards.

However, those who joined these institutions before 1 July 2024 will continue to receive their previous pension benefits.

In addition to public universities, employees in autonomous, state-owned, and other statutory organisations, along with their subordinates, will also be included in the pension scheme, set to be implemented from Monday.

Public university teachers have been protesting their inclusion in the Prottoy scheme since its announcement and have vowed to continue their protest until it is withdrawn.

Meanwhile, the National Pension Authority has stated that they are ready to implement the scheme from Monday as per the government’s decision.

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HSC, Equivalent Exams Underway Across Bangladesh

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HSC

The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent exams commenced across Bangladesh this morning, excluding the Sylhet division.

In Sylhet, the exams will begin on July 9 due to flooding, according to a Ministry of Education directive. The Sylhet Education Board Chairman, Rama Bijoy Sarkar, stated that new dates for the Bangla-I, II, and English-I and II papers will be announced later.

Nationwide, a total of 14,50,790 students from nine general education boards, the Madrasha Board, and the Technical Board are expected to take the exams at 2,275 centers from 9,463 educational institutions.

Among the candidates, 11,28,281 are from general boards, 88,076 from the Madrasha Board, and 2,34,433 from the Technical Board. Additionally, 281 students will take the exams from eight overseas centers.

Following tradition, all coaching centers are required to remain closed from June 29 to August 11.

Last year, 13,59,342 students participated in the examinations from all boards.

The HSC written exams will continue until August 11, followed by practical exams from August 12 to August 21. Exams under the Technical Board will end on July 18, with practical exams scheduled from July 19 to August 4.

Students must enter exam centers 30 minutes before the exams start. The question paper codes will be sent via SMS 25 minutes before the exams begin. Only exam center in-charges are allowed to carry mobile phones inside the centers.

Only examinees, center invigilators, ministry teams, board teams, local administration, upazila administration teams, and security personnel are permitted inside the exam centers.

In Dhaka, the Quick Response Team (QRT) of the Metropolitan Police will assist examinees during the exams, as previously announced.

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