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Bangladesh: Role of English and Arabic in Education
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Education > Role of English and Arabic in Education


Following the birth of Bangladesh, Bangla came to replace English as the medium of instruction. Bangla also became the sole national language and the standard language of communications. The initial shortage of Bangla textbooks and other instructional materials was alleviated by the accelerated production of textbooks in the vernacular under the patronage of government education departments. The Bangla Academy also played a pioneering role in this area. In the 1980s, British education was maintained marginally through private English-language institutions attended by upper class children. English continued to be offered as an elective subject in most institutions of higher education and was offered as a subject for bachelor's and master's degrees.

Initially, Arabic also lost ground in independent Bangladesh. This trend ended in the late 1970s, however, after Bangladesh strengthened its ties with Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich, Arabicspeaking countries. An unsuccessful attempt was made in 1983 to introduce Arabic as a required language in primary and secondary levels. In the late 1980s, Arabic was studied in many Muslim homes in Bangladesh as an integral part of religious instruction. Aside from courses in religious schools, however, Arabic was not a popular subject at the college and university level.

Data as of September 1988

Last Updated: September 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bangladesh was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 60 of 193


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