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 transmits 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 students’ 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 quality education.
Now is the time to think of quality education from very early schooling as 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 percent enrolments and reducing 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 since 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 percent. (Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics). As many as sixty percent 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 the 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 an 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.
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 percent 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 a rate eighteen percentage points lower than the national average. Dropout rates have made substantial progress where in 2006 the proportion of pupils starting grade one who reach grade 5 was 63.6 percent, in 2009 this has increased to 79.8 per cent. However, the room for progress is still required in this area. At least ten percent 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 Wiplo Ltd in India thinks of 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 text books that are to be followed. Learning grantee consists ‘of more serious and deeper issues such as understanding of the pedagogical processes in the class room, clearer understanding by the teachers of what competencies are to be developed among the students, the class-room 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 parents 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 into the education of our children. Equally, we have to start thinking in terms of enthusiastic, highly motivated and more importantly, highly competent teachers and head teachers in reality, not in words or in seminar papers only.
Writer: Program Manager, BRAC Education Program, PACE, BRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh.