It looks strange that two contrasting phenomena exist side by side in our education system. One shows a competition to make the students pass whatever they write in the examination scripts. It is an obsession to increase the pass percentage without properly assessing the scripts of the students in the terminal, junior school certificate, secondary school certificate and higher secondary school certificate examinations. The introduction of creative questions on the other hand tends to convince us of imparting quality education by the authority. A Chinese proverb regarding education goes thus “If you want to think one year ahead, plant rice. If you want to think ten years ahead, plant trees. But if you want to think hundred years ahead give education to people.” But education should be qualitative.
Quality education means that the majority of the students, if not all, are able to meet the expectation of the Minimum Level of Learning.” It means stimulating creative thinking, developing problem-solving skills and life skills and laying emphasis on the application of knowledge.
Alison King a researcher and educator in the College of Education at California State University in San Marcos back in 1993 said, “In most classrooms, the teacher lectures and the students listen and take notes. The teacher is the central figure, the ‘sage of the sage’. The teacher thinks that he has the knowledge which he will transmit to the students who simply memorize the information and later reproduce it in an examination, often without even thinking about it. This, Allision says is akin to the assumption that the student’s brain is like an empty container into which the teacher pours knowledge. The students are perceived to be passive learners rather than active ones and the individuals are never expected to think for themselves. This situation actually prevails in our educational institutions which we cannot definitely term as to quality education.
Now is the time to think of quality education from very early schooling to ensure the full cycle of schooling of the students. It’s good news for us that pre-schooling for students above five years in all government schools has come into effect from this academic session. This initiative, taken under the national education policy, is aimed at achieving hundred per cent enrolments and reducing the dropout rate. Apart from 37 672 government schools, nearly 10, 000 registered non-government pre-schools have also introduced pre-primary education.
Most of the schools got encouraging response from parents- “Symal Kanti Ghosh, Director General – Directorate of Primary Education has said. In 2011 pre-primary schooling was introduced as a pilot project in 12000 schools although some private schools have been offering the facility for the past few years. BRAC stands champion in this line. It introduced pre-schooling in 2002. Guardians and parents in some remote rural areas and slums don’t send their kids to schools due to poverty and lack of knowledge. BRAC Education has extended education facilities to the un-reach. The present rate of enrolment is 99.43 per cent. (Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics). As many as sixty per cent of students have been enrolled in the pre-primary class.
Those who have got admitted come to schools every day play with their peers and are receiving basic education. Classes under pre-primary schooling are quite different from the usual ones. The National Education Policy 2010 says, “As a first step, pre-primary education will be introduced for children older than five years and later it would be introduced for children aged more than four years. This preparatory education will kindle interest among children in education. Such schooling would make students disciplined and tolerant to others at a very early stage.” Definitely, students start learning socialization through pre-schooling and it belongs to quality education. Real learning can occur at any given time or place as long as the environment provokes the person’s curiosity and drives him or her to find the truth under the surface.
The truth goes that the government of Bangladesh has made significant progress in recent years to increase primary-school-age enrolment rates to cover eighty- nine per cent of boys and 94 per cent of girls. However, access to education remains a challenge for vulnerable groups, particularly working children, disabled children, indigenous children and those in remote areas or living in extreme poverty. Only half of all children living in slums attend school at a rate eighteen percentage points lower than the national average.
Dropout rates have made substantial progress wherein 2006 the proportion of pupils starting grade one who reaches grade 5 was 63.6 per cent, in 2009 this has increased to 79.8 per cent. However, room for progress is still required in this area. At least ten per cent of primary school teaching posts are vacant. One-third of staff at government schools teach without a certificate in Education. Promoting interactive and inclusive learning is difficult in the face of traditional teaching methods that require students to memorize facts. Students regularly fail to meet required curriculum competencies, so repetition rates are high. it currently takes an average of 8.5 years for a child to complete grades one through five. Ten per cent of primary school students are above primary school age eleven plus.
Mr Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd in India thinks of a critical component of the way of learning which he calls ‘ learning guarantee’. The concept of learning guarantee lies beyond the fragmented view of the education system as is generally understood. It is not just about the number and quality of teachers. It is not just about how the government is playing its role effectively or not. It is beyond the issues of a mid-day meal program or training of teachers or the kind of textbooks that are to be followed.
Learning grantee consists ‘of more serious and deeper issues such as understanding of the pedagogical processes in the classroom, clearer understanding by the teachers of what competencies are to be developed among the students, the classroom practices that bring out the best among the children in the most non-threatening and exciting manner, the competitive spirit that the school is able to create, the parent’s untiring interest in their children’s learning, the pressure created by an active and lively parent-teacher interaction for better delivery of learning in the school. It is a social process as well as a high-quality management process.’ (Source: Internet)
Finally, we can say to ensure quality education we cannot leave everything to the government as we have been doing for so long. If we have to make major headways, we have to start involving ourselves more deeply in the education of our children. Equally, we have to start thinking in terms of enthusiastic, highly motivated and more importantly, highly competent teachers and headteachers in reality, not in words or in seminar papers only.