Ranking secondary schools has been done for the first time in Bangladesh by the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education at the behest of the Ministry of Education. The Planning Wing of DSHE has done this commendable job. Hats off the initiators. Schools will receive appreciation and admonition according to the ranking, they said. It has, no doubt, added a new dimension in the way of evaluating a school which so long has been ranked only on the basis of public examination results. In the ranking ‘A’ category schools obtained 90-100 percent marks, B-80-89.9, C-70-79.9. ‘ D’ category schools are considered weak which have got 50-69.9 percent marks. ‘E’ category obtained 20 p-49.9 percent marks and they are identified as non-functional or extremely poor performing schools. According to this ranking the number of ‘A’ category schools in the country is two thousand 455 and 14 percent of the total school, B category eight thousand 897( 50 percent), C category four thousand 789( 27 percent), one thousand 619 and 8 percent are D category schools. One thousand 53 schools showing one percent are E category i.e. non-functional or extremely poor performing schools.
In the city of Dhaka – Motijheel Ideal School, Holy Cross, Saint Joseph Higher Secondary School, Samsul Haque Khan High School, BAF Shaheen School, Rajuk Uttara Model School, Shaheed Bir Uttaam Lt. Anwar Girls’ School, Adamjee Cantonment Public School, WYCA School , Kakoli High School, Dhanmondi and Motijheel Model (Day) are ranked as ‘A’ category schools. Viqarunnessa-noon School, Saint Gregori, Government Laboratory High School, Gono-Bhaban High School, Dhanmondi Government Girls’ High School, Motijheel Government Girls’ High School and National Bank Public School fall in the ‘B’ category and the schools belonging to ‘C’ category in the Dhaka city are Mohammadpur Governemnt High School, Motijheel Government Boys’ High School and Dhanmondi Quamrunnessa Girls’ School.
For ranking the schools prescribed forms were sent to all the secondary school heads which stand 19 thousand 83 schools in total. Out of them 17 thousand 873 schools sent the form after filling them up. Secondary Education Sector Development Project (SESDP) shouldered the expenditure of this ranking. Madarasa has not been included in the first year, only schools were considered. Seven criteria were set to rank the schools. They are:
(i) Teachers’ teaching and students’ learning environment of the school
(ii) The leadership quality of the institutional heads
(iii) Activities and role of SMC in the school affairs
(iv) Professionalism of teaches
(v) Students’ success in the public examinations
(vi) Co-curricular activities of the school
(vii) Relation of schools with community and guardians
The information was collected on 45 issues and then was analyzed. Through this ranking the activities of the school will be pictured and the poor performing schools will directly receive appreciation or warning, if necessary.
We do believe that this ranking will create competition among the school which will help lead them to better performing schools. Now no such competition goes on among the schools to develop the overall standard of the institutions and give quality education. It will definitely motivate the teachers, students, committee members and guardians including other stakeholders of secondary education sector.
As such kind of initiative has surfaced for the first time, it has seen some loopholes. Collecting information through the institutional heads may not give the real picture. To give vote against the institutional heads’ leadership quality may not be expected genuinely. It is a crucial task indeed. Engaging all the secondary education partners might have brought some unquestionable results. The schools should have been distributed among other government projects working for capacity and management development such as TQI, SEQAEP and NGOs such as BRAC. When the ranking will be done next year, the inclusion of the government projects and NGOs will definitely accrue a reasonable outcome. The ELTIP (English Language Teaching Improvement Project) staffs are remaining idle. They could have been engaged along with a trained group of people to collect the exact information of the schools.
Private coaching by the school and teachers, its intensity and institutional encouragement and arrangement must be included in ranking. If it is done, the institution and its committee will be active enough to stop or bring it down on a tolerable level. Otherwise, this chronic and contagious disease will further harm our total educational field. It has already damaged almost all the organs of education.
Only passing rate and obtaining marks become the prime concern of coaching centers. No extra-curricular and co-curricular activities are practiced there. The same kind of tradition has developed in the formal educational institutions I mean schools. Only making the students swallow some prepared notes without engaging their own thinking power has become the order of the day. By using those prepared notes they obtain marks to pass and manage good grade in the examinations. It remains almost no difference between a formal school and a coaching centre. To rank a school, this point must be given serious consideration. Teachers’ receiving training and its implementation in the classroom must also be seen with critical eyes to really bring a positive change in the secondary education.
A health completion will develop in the secondary education sector through this kind of ranking. In Cadet College all the dormitories and rooms are regularly inspected by a team. I remember the head of the team (House Master) used to give first warning to all the cadets ( three or four cadet live in one room) after entering into each room saying, “ Your result in this term is good at all.” When the first boys answered that they stood first, he asked them the percent of marks they obtained. Somebody said 88 percent sir, he again showed dissatisfaction saying ‘for a cadet it is very poor marks’ try to improve it further.’ Thus the house stood champion six years at a stretch. It clearly shows that healthy competition is a must to go ahead.
Ranking the secondary schools has gone for the first time in our country which has been long overdue. Evaluation on the basis of some set criteria closely related to disseminating quality education stands as an integral part of education which has remained unfelt so far. So, the ministry of education, the initiator and related all deserve real appreciation for the task they have just started.
Writer: Program Manager, BRAC Education Program and Vice-President, Bangladesh English Language Teachers’ Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.