Through history, Bangladesh has gone through various phases of education systems. From the time of the English rule to Pakistani regime and finally Bangladeshi system, education has evolved not only in methods but also in fundamental aspects like language and governance.
During the British rule, education was mainly reserved for the wealthy class. The language of pedagogy was English as schools were run by religious nuns and other British people. The few natives who were fortunate to receive education were either from wealthy families or whose family had ties with the British governing body. For one to receive higher education, such as a university degree, to become a professional, one had to attend schools in England. Such was the case of the famous Indian Mahatma Gandhi who traveled to London to study law. As native people were treated as second-class citizens, education was largely deprived from the general population.
After the British had left the Indian Subcontinent, the territory presently known as Bangladesh came under Pakistani regime as the state of East Pakistan. Education during this period was still very scarce but those who had the means of acquiring it were no longer considered second-class citizens. The state language, however, was Urdu: the mother tongue of Pakistan. In the region of East Pakistan, the native language was Bengali and not Urdu. Hence, a conflict over language was eminent.
School systems were still largely functioned in the English language as few schools, such as the Holy Cross and numerous Cadet Colleges, were still taught by the British and the nuns. However, in order to obtain government jobs, one had to know Urdu as it was the state language. Bengalis did not want to learn Urdu as the felt obliged to submit their rights to the Pakistanis. As such, after a long and bloody language movement, Bengalis were given the practice the language Bengali in their own homeland. So, to recap, during the Pakistani era, the educational system was mainly to indoctrinate students to the Urdu language.
After the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, the People's Republic of Bangladesh became an independent nation free to choose its own educational destiny. As Bangladesh was, and still is, a secular state, many forms of education were permitted to co-exist. The formidable British system was, and still is, largely practiced. In fact, presently, the Bangladeshi system of education is divided into three different branches. Students are free to choose anyone of them provided that they have the means. These branches are: a) The English Medium, b) The Bengali Medium, and c) The Religious Branch.