With the national elections likely this December, the government has taken up a Tk 5,918.63 crore project to construct buildings of 2,000 madrasas chosen by the MPs.
Under the three-year project, infrastructure of 1,800 madrasas would be developed while 200 madrasas would be built under “special consideration”, said Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal.
Each of the 300 lawmakers has provided the planning ministry with a list of six madrasas -- to have new buildings -- from his or her electoral area.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the "Selected Madrasa Development Project" at a meeting at the National Economic Council yesterday, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
"The work would begin soon," Kamal told a press briefing after the meeting.
Asked whether the project would influence the parliamentary polls, he said, "Of course, it will influence [the election]. We want it to influence [the polls] effectively. So we are passing it [the project]."
The Directorate of Madrasa Education and Education Engineering Department would implement the project by June 2021, he said.
Kamal said the MPs gave his ministry the list of the madrasas long ago."I also gave mine."
"We have taken the list from the existing MPs. We did not consider who belongs to which party ...,” he said.
He also said there would be polls and all the development work would continue as usual.
The project operations include construction of new four- to six-storey madrasa buildings in rural, divisional, metropolitan, hilly, coastal, haor, baor, beel, river and salinity prone areas; building classrooms; upward extension of madrasa buildings; and procurement of necessary furniture.
Currently, the country has 9,311 madrasas offering Dakhil, Alim, Fazil and Kamil degrees, according to the Education Statistics-2016 of Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics.
Of the madrasas, only three are state-run while the rest are being privately operated.
The project documents said most of the private madrasas are either makeshift or semi-concrete structures. The number of madrasas with concrete structures is very limited while the infrastructure of most of the madrasas is weak and risky.
The government has already constructed one-storey buildings with two-three classrooms at 4,559 madrasas. The infrastructure of the rest 4,752 madrasas is yet to be developed, according to the documents.
"Therefore, students are being compelled to attend classes in inappropriate conditions at those madrasas, which lack infrastructural facilities."
Apart from constructing new buildings, furniture would be procured and teachers would be trained up under the project to be financed with the government's own fund.
Of the total amount, Tk 5,355 crore would be spent for constructing academic buildings, classrooms and toilets.
In the fiscal 2018-19, the government would spend Tk 1,442 crore while Tk 2879.65 crore would be spent in the next fiscal year. In 2020-21, the expenditure would be Tk 1,596.98 crore, added the documents.
Asked whether the project would benefit the MPs in the upcoming polls, the planning minister said he did not know how much the impact would be.
"Election is a complex issue. A voter considers many issues, including the honesty of the candidate, before casting his vote,” he said. Earlier, a similar project was taken in the election year.
In January, each of the MPs, under a Tk 10,649 crore project, received funds for the construction and extension of 10 school buildings in their constituencies.
Two similar projects, involving the lawmakers, were pending with the Planning Commission.
One of them is "Water and Sanitation Scheme" under which deep tube-wells and public toilets would be constructed. The project cost is estimated at Tk 903 crore. Each of the MPs would get Tk 3 crore as allocation.
The other one is a Tk 1,785 crore infrastructure project for constructing village markets. The lawmakers would get funds for the work.