Education Policy

Education Policy must Give Importance to These Points

Current education policy of Bangladesh
Current education policy of Bangladesh
Masum Billah
Written by Masum Billah

The present government is going to formulate a standard education policy as they said. Education is actually in shamble whatever complacency we show. You look at the education scene in the city of Dhaka. Those who have money can buy education; the middle class sees a fish out of the situation, lower middle class find no place to send their wards. Actually, there is no place for sending the children to get an education. At the government level no effort, no suitable institutions is available for the children. The place has been occupied by the private sector which imparts far lesser and not unified or uniform education.

At the secondary level, there stand some so-called reputed institutions that prove far below the number needed for ten million people of the city of Dhaka. To get admission into these institutions is a matter of luck only. Students have to undergo a tough test which is very unreasonable. The questions sometimes equal to BCS type questions or some bizarre questions which are absolutely irrelevant for those level of learners. At the cost of your luck, a huge amount of money for admission coaching and a nightmare experience of admission test when you send your wards to these institutions you become the subject of another series of ordeals perpetrated by schools administration and subject teachers.

You must send your wards to the teachers for private coaching otherwise your children will fall a victim to various tortures of the teachers ranging from psychological to financial. After spending most of the time in the school the young kids have to start visiting the teacher’s house or their coaching centres for private coaching which continue up to the night. Then again, a huge amount of homework the learners have to prepare.  Education is supposed to be imparted in a friendly and enjoyable environment but these phenomena make the learning very bitter for the students. Many education policies have been recommended and formed but the grim and unpalatable situation never received any importance.

This private coaching makes the life of middle-class people very miserable as they have to spend the lion’s share of their income for this purpose. Then again, the guardians cannot give attention to their household works. They are to move from one teacher’s door to another. Teachers also have stopped giving quality teaching in the classroom. Halimur R. Khan gives some interesting statistics in the Daily Star on April 21, 2009, in his article ‘ Education keeping up with population growth’.

In terms of investment in the education sector is financially challenged. In Bangladesh, this figure stands as 2.7% GDP, in India, it is 3.2%, in Pakistan 2.6%, in Thailand 4.2%, Malaysia 6.2%, UK 5.6%. From 148million in 2005, the population growth will grow 192.9million in 20 years. This population growth will impact all aspects of life, most importantly in the education system. In 2005 18.2 million children were age-appropriate for primary school. 90% (16.2million) attended, 80,397 schools and 344789 teachers served the education needs of this population 17 million students between ages 10-14, 44% (7.4 million) attended there were 18,500 schools and 232929 teachers taught them.  Approximately 1.3 million students (10% of 13 million) attended college at 3150 colleges where 90, 401 teachers taught.

A very small percentage (1.6% of 13 million) university going age students attended 74 higher educational institutions where 10, 339 professors served. Because of the falling birth rate, 7445 primary and 500 secondary schools will not be needed in 2005. Most population growth will take place at college and university levels. Our education policy must give special focus on this point. Almost 300000 more students will get admission into colleges in 2025 which will require 733 additional colleges and 21353 teachers. Nearly more 68000 more students will want to attend university in 2025 which will require 24 more universities and 3353 university teachers. Our poor budget cannot accommodate establishing fully-fledged universities under state sponsorship, the sprung up of universities in the private sector can appear as a potential source of higher education. What the government controls are quality. In no way quality must be allowed to fall in these universities.  So, private universities are going to occupy a significant part of our educational arena.

The present education system makes the students just examinee, not learners. All the educational institutions, teachers and coaching centres are busy enough to prepare the students just to make them pass well with a good GPA. Real learning and analyzing capacity hardly develop through this kind of education system. The ongoing education policy needs to give serious thought to this issue. It would have been better if we could make a uniform education in the elementary and secondary levels. Pragmatically it may not be possible to merge general, madrasa and English medium education. When they would have to keep separate, there should be some common syllabus for all keeping their own and distinctive syllabuses untouched.

Students must know some practical skills so that they can earn their livelihood without depending on their parents or just wait for clerical jobs. University education must be only for the brilliants and facilities in universities must be made available of the world standard. The university students would go to drive the nation. So, they should be prepared accordingly. When they grow through the chaotic situation, they will not be able to contribute anything positive to the nation. Education policy must be formulated in such a way as no student can engage himself or herself in nasty student politics; teachers need to give more emphasis on academic affairs rather than political affiliation. Government interference in the university should be ceased totally.

No party leanings should be given any consideration for the Vice-Chancellor appointment. Only academic and administrative excellence should be considered. This is good for all and for the nation. Petty party interest kills the backbone of higher education in the country. It is better to nationalize education. If it is done, the government controls get stronger and a uniform policy can be formulated. Financially it may be a threat to the government but the student fee can be raised to meet the expenditure. But guardians should be assured that they need not take extra coaching for their kids at the cost of extra money from the teachers. This situation has seriously deteriorated the standard of education. Weak students would be given extra coaching in the school for extra but not to a particular teacher. All the questions of the internal examinations must be prepared by the teachers of other schools and colleges. When the teachers of a particular school or college prepare questions, they try to take illegal means.

The teacher who is favoured by the institutional heads is preferred to prepare questions and students also run after him/her for getting so-called suggestions and questions. Hence, the coaching business arises and students become dependent on a particular type of questions burying the idea of creativity. For presenting quality education, the quality teacher is a must. The quality teacher cannot be produced overnight. In order to do that, continuous training is a must for the teachers to keep them updated with the latest findings of education. When the government finds it difficult to bring all the teachers under training, it should take help from other organizations. To give training once and then no refreshers and no follow up hardly gives benefit to the teachers.

Continuous professional development comes through training. The coming education policy must focus on this point with serious importance. Many policies are formulated which sound very grave and magnanimous but the simple and some technical points need to be changed seriously to bring quality in imparting education. Petty interest must be sacrificed in the greater interest of the nation. Keeping this point in mind, education policy must be formulated.

About the author

Masum Billah

Masum Billah

Masum Billah works as a Program Manager in BRAC Education Program, BRAC, and Vice-President of Bangladesh English Language Teachers’ Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Leave a Comment