• Sunday, Sep 22, 2019
  • Last Update : 11:58 am

Male madrasa teachers barred from calling female students to office rooms

  • Published at 11:35 pm April 17th, 2019
Bangladesh Madrasa Education Board
File photo of Bangladesh Madrasa Education Board in Dhaka's Bakshibazar area

Madrasa board drafts guidelines to protect female students

Following the tragic death of Feni Madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi, Bangladesh Madrasa Education Board (BMEB) has decided to issue a set of guidelines to protect female madrasa students.

The draft guideline, in a format of emergency notice, will be issued on urgent basis to the managing committees, principals, and superintendents of madrasa, as well as teachers, staffs, students, and guardians. The draft aims to ensure security of the female students, their safe transportation to the institutions, and to prevent sexual harassment in educational institutions.

Dhaka Tribune has obtained a copy of the draft emergency notice that includes 12 point of instructions to madrasa authorities, eight point of directives to female students, two point of directives each to managing committees, and guardians.

“The most important point of the guideline is that a male teacher, under any circumstance, cannot call a female student alone to the room of the principal or any teacher.  For any official purpose, a teacher, guardian, or another female student shall accompany the subject student,” BMEB Chairman Prof AKM Saif Ullah told the Dhaka Tribune.

Also, a teacher cannot make personal contact with a female student at all costs, he added.

The notice will be sent to the all madrasas across Bangladesh, which are under government monitoring, by this week, to ensure cent percent safety and security for female students.

If there is a complaint of sexual harassment or abuse against any teacher, the madrasa authority shall inform the managing committee, local administration, and law enforcement agencies.

“Immediate action will be taken if allegations are made, and we will not show mercy to any crime or violence in madrasa premises,” said the chairman.

The chairman said, due to some untoward incidents, the image of madrasas are being tarnished.

“The notice has been issued to boost security of the female students and to set an example of punishment to any perpetrator,” he added.

Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), said: “There is a possibility that the draft may change but the steps they have taken is in the right direction. It’s important to strengthen the monitoring.

“It can be commented on after its finalization, especially, since it’s related to the security and safely of female students,” she said.

Biometric attendance, separate toilets, female councillors stressed

The draft guideline asked all teachers and students of madrasas to properly follow code of conduct of the institution, while highest importance will be given to the security of the female students.

All madrasas shall maintain biometric attendance system for both teachers and students, and information on attendance will be sent to the guardians on a regular basis, it said.

The guideline recommends separate toilet and common room facilities for female students and female teachers as well as having dedicated female councillors to deal with problems of female students.

Also, the authorities will have to issue specific instructions to female students during assembly on what to do for their own safety. The authorities will have to organize a monthly meeting with students, where female students can voice their problems, and action will have to be taken based on those concerns.

To students: Call 999 

A female student must immediately call emergency helpline 999 if attacked or fears an attack, or sees anyone being attacked.

The guideline requested female students to notify the authority or guardians if they face any sexual harassment or unusual behaviour from male teachers or face sexual harassment outside the institution.

If a teacher lures a student with proposals of aiding in passing any exam or any other benefit, it should immediately be notified to the other students, teachers, madrasa head, and guardians. Chairman of the madrasa board is also to be notified so actions could be taken.

<Punitive action by admin, law enforcement, management stressed for any sexual harassment case>

The guideline requests guardians to immediately communicate with madrasa committee, head of the institution, local administration, and law enforcement agencies if a female student faces any sexual abuse inside or on their way to the institution.

If required, inform the madrasa board too, it said.

The guideline also urged the guardians to keep an eye on whether students have reached the madrasa and home safely.

The managing committee will have to circulate the notice to all students, teachers, and parents, and if the managing committee fails to take action on complaints, the board will take action against the committee concerned, it added.

Guidelines: 

•    a male teacher, under any circumstance, cannot call a female student alone to the room of the principal or any teacher

•    the authorities will have to issue specific instructions to female students during assembly on what to do for their own safety

•    authorities will have to organize a monthly meeting with students, where female students can voice their problems

•    female students should notify the authority or guardians if they face any sexual harassment or unusual behaviour from male teachers or face sexual harassment outside the institution