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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 11:55 GMT
Goat debate in Bangladesh schools
A white goat
Goats are important in the Bangladeshi economy

Academics in Bangladesh have strongly criticised a decision by the education authorities to include a chapter on goat rearing in the national curriculum.


Goats are found everywhere in Bangladesh and play a vital role in the agricultural sector

They argue that children in city areas have no need to learn about goat husbandry and that its inclusion in the curriculum for 10-15-year-olds is a waste of time, energy and money.

But the government argues that goats play an essential part in its poverty alleviation programme and that all children in the country should have knowledge about the animals.

The goat debate is one element of a wider ranging dispute between the goverment and opposition over the content of school text books.

Prize animal

Goats are found everywhere in Bangladesh and play a vital role in the agricultural sector.

They are prized for their meat and for their milk.

The government argues that they are so important that a chapter on goat rearing will be included in two text books that form part of the curriculum.

The aim of the scheme is to encourage pupils to be more aware of environmental and poverty reduction issues.

It's strongly backed by Bangladeshi Finance Minister Saifier Rahman, who used to be a goat rearer.

He argues that if goats are properly cared for they can significantly reduce the impact of poverty and improve the overall economy.

Writing history

The government has provided nearly 100,000 entrepreneurs with small loans to start goat farming over the next five years - but teachers in Dhaka accuse the government of being obsessed with the animals.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
Family honour is feeding the textbook row
They argue that it's foolish to include a chapter on goat rearing in text books used by urban children who will find the subject irrelevant.

The arguments about goat rearing are part of a wider and more acrimonious debate between the government and opposition over the content of school text books.

The prime minister and main opposition leader are bitterly divided over which of their family members first proclaimed Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan.

Since the government came to power school text books have started to say that the prime minister's deceased husband, Ziaur Rahman, was first accorded this honour.

See also:

16 Oct 02 | Wales
07 Jan 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
01 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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