The Education Ministry on Friday issued an order to the relevant authorities to give salaries from the state exchequer to the teachers and employees of only 1022 non-government educational institutions out of nearly 6000 such institutions which had been in the queue for several years. Immediately after the announcement of the MPO list, many deprived teachers, accompanied by political activists, staged protest and blocked roads in different places of the country. A section of AL leaders including a lawmaker, on May 10 came to the education ministry where they told newsmen that new educational institutions get the government’s financial assistance in the form of monthly pay order only in exchange for bribes. But we like to place the questions ‘who took the bribes? It is an established fact that our Education Minister does not take any bribe. He has proved himself far above this illegal practice. Then who took the bribes and why? They made a noisy scene at the office of the education minister in the secretariat and shouted slogans against three officials close to Nahid for allegedly giving the MPO facilities for kickbacks.
Education minister Nurul Islam Nahid on May 11 came under fire from his colleagues apparently for not favouring the non-government educational institutions established by Awami League leaders or the party sympathizers in granting ‘monthly pay orders.’ They alleged that many non-government intuitions named after the country’s founding president, Sheikth Mujibur Rahman and also after freedom fighters had not been enlisted for the facility in the form of ‘monthly pay order’ while some schools, colleges and madrassas named after ‘ notorious people, including criminals,’ were on the list , said a state minster after the meeting.Most of the ministers demanded a review of the recently announced MPO list to accommodate more schools, colleges and madeassas established or patronized by leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamat-e-Islami from the list. Political consideration and name must not be given priority if the government really wants to a neutral and reasonable education policy. A set of criteria was fixed and announced for including educational institutions on the MPO list and the Education minister followed the criteria. The criteria go thus: the number of students in non-MPO institutions, numbers of students taking public examination every year, and the pass rate and the dates of government approval for the institutions. Sticking to the set rules and doing work accordingly not only helps establish transparency but also discourages the lobbying groups who disturb the ongoing honest activities of the state. The government must realize the fact. Earlier, a number of lawmakers from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party alleged that the government had been biased in preparing the list as the institutions in their areas were left out on political consideration. The opposition could not set so many good examples in this regard though their success in eradicating ‘copying ‘ in the public examination commands respect. The policy adopted by the ministry of education under the leadership of Nurul Islam Nahid hardly makes any room to look with frowned eye. We are proud of him.
Responding to the pressure of the ministers the Prime Minister asked her adviser on education, social development ad political affairs Dr. Alaudding Ahmed to find out how to review the MPO list in keeping with the guidelines set by the government. Beleaguered Nahid tried to defend his action saying that the financial facility had been given to the institutions which had fluffed the criteria as per the guileles . even then, the duty of was shifted to another one. We do afraid whether it will see any reasonable step or just purely politically biased decision emerges.
Some sources commented that Nahid does not understand the pulse of AL politics as he came from a different party. When the premier gave the responsibility of reviewing the list to Niahid, those minister vehemently opposed it. So the primer directed her Education Advisor to prepare a flesh list after reviewing the announced one in consultation with the members of the committee that prepared it. At the same time she directed the education ministry to refrain from issuing any gazette notification regarding the announced list. The suspension came just after three days into the list’s announcement as some ministers and state ministers expressed serious resentment against Education Minister Nurul Ialam Nahid at a regular cabinet meeting because institutions of their chose are not included in the list. Terming the recent MPO-list of educational institutions as the bureaucracy –dependent one, most the ministers alleged that there was a subtle manipulation in the preparation of the list. Some ministers also demanded resignation of the education minster for manipulation of the list. Some 16 aggrieved ministers regretted that their recommendations regarding the preparing of the list were also rejected not to speak of the suggestion of the lawmakers of many constituencies. These comments , utterances and resentments clandestinely say that the process went through a transparent way where poltical and dishonest people’s influences could not touch it. It deserves appreciation. An example could have been set but once again we have shown the signs of bow down to the evil. God knows what will happen to our education.
The National Professro Prof. Kabir Chowdhury said , “Under governments formed by political parties, there will always be political pressure but the education minster and the ministry must rise above that with courage. And I believe Nahid has been doing that. “ we also are at one with him and we salute Nahid for his honest and strict endevour. The head of the government also think of the matter very seriously without gaining some cheap popularity or getting some temporary gains. The teachers of non-MPO high schools, colleges and madrassas of Khluna district under the banner of ‘ ‘Non-MPO Shikhkha Protishatn Shikhtakh Karmachari Oikkya Parshead’ declared the indefinite huNger strike to be stated at Sheed Hadis Part in the city on May 13 afte staging an hour long human chain at the Picture Palace Crossing to press home their demand . The parishad leaders said around 25 thousand educational institutions are recognized by the government but of them around 7500 were yet to get MPO. Around one lakh teachers and employees work for the non-MPO educational institutions and they have been passing days in dire distress. A good number of non-MPO institutions were more than 10 years old. They demanded MPO for all government recognizedD non-MPO educational institutions and asked the government to declare a new list immediately. We also support the idea that all the government recognized institutions should be under MPO at a time or strict criteria to be maintained to get them included in phases. In that case , we must show patience and honour the honest decision. To ensure quality education, quality decision must be honoured.
Writer: Senior Manager, BRAC Education Programme, PACE, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Email: [email protected]