The government secondary schools will see Senior Teacher position with the status of first-class gazetted officer that must be a welcome move. The number of government secondary schools had been only 317 for many years in a country of sixteen crore people that expresses stately importance towards this tier of education. However, the non-government teacher associations have been struggling to nationalize secondary education. On the other hand, primary education receives quite a good importance from the state that manages 65 thousand 650 government primary schools in the country. The current government secondary schools stand at 683, including the newly announced government schools in the upazila levels where government schools were not available. Still, it proves less than 3 per cent of schools in the government sector sounds not good enough to educate the student population of this tier. Though the number of government secondary schools register quite a few compared to our vast population, government teachers’ job does not seem lucrative enough. If we want to make it attractive for the meritorious candidate’s, we need to give more attention to this area. Responding to the prevailing situation of government secondary schools, the current government is going to create ‘senior teacher’ position, which will be equivalent to the first-class gazetted officers.
Half of the currently working assistant teachers will be promoted to ‘senior teacher’, and their salary scale will be of ninth grade. Five thousand 406 teachers are going to embrace this promotion. The prevailing practice shows that the teachers enter the service on the national salary scale of tenth grade. Their promotion is so slow that only 4-5 per cent of teachers get the promotion. The rest 95-96 per cent of teachers go on retirement without having any promotion in their 30-35 years of service that definitely shows a discouraging picture of education. It is in no way a reasonable step. They want this position as first-class officer status for a long. There are ten thousand 812 positions for assistant teachers in 683 government secondary schools. Beyond this, 683 headteachers and the same number of assistant headteacher positions lie in these schools. However, many of these positions lie vacant now. Teacher recruitment had been off from 2012 till 2019 that created a big vacuum. Due to the changed syllabus and curriculum since 2012, four new subjects have been introduced at the secondary level. These new subjects are ICT, Physical Education, Life Skills Education, Arts and Crafts. No subject teachers to teach these subject are available in secondary schools. The teachers of other subjects conduct classes of these subjects.
There lies no position between assistant teacher and assistant headteacher at the secondary level. So, creating a new position titled ‘senior teacher’ between these two positions deserves appreciation. This position will be fulfilled through promotion, not by entry-level teachers, that encourages the working teachers to encourage news. The assistant teachers served for eight years and have fulfilled three conditions, such as eight years of satisfactory service and BEd degree within the five years of joining and having not more than one-third class in their academic life. The assistant teachers received the honour of second class gazetted officer in 2012, which had been long overdue. Now, another good news has been added to their career. This position should literally be made ‘cadre service’ to bring novelty in the service and make it more attractive for the meritorious candidates.
The gradation list-1 for prospective senior teachers was uploaded on the DSHE website in December 2020 for inviting opinions from the teachers to get it rectified in case of its having any wrong information. A considerable number of teachers detected many irregularities and problems on that website, and they laid complaints with DG-DSHE. Many teachers raised the issue that many of them could not complete BEd even though they applied to the respective headteachers in 2012 and the DG in 2015, and some to the National University. But the respective headteachers did not allow them to go for BEd training as the set class activities would be hampered. To speak the truth, the headteachers cannot be blamed for that as ten to fifteen teachers join at a time in a school and all of them or even if half of them go to receive BEd training, it would really become difficult to continue classes as usual. So, I advocate for introducing a group of ‘visiting teachers’ who will conduct classes of the teachers receiving BEd training. These visiting teachers may work directly under the district education officer, who will deploy them as per the demand of schools that need them.
Teachers who were recruited in 1991 and afterwards have been dropped out of the list prepared by DHSE according to the 2018 recruitment principles that go conflicting with their recruitment principle. The case regarding BEd has been applied for all instead of nine petitioners who submitted petitions to the court that is likely to create irregularities or indiscipline among the teachers. Recruitment rules 2011 have not been applied to the wards of freedom fighters; finally, without considering the publication of result time of BEd, Those who just enrolled for BEd have been placed in the gradation list. Even many teachers who did not have BEd are kept on the list. These are the complaints the teachers made against DHSE prepared list.
Though the post of assistant teachers was made second class gazetted in 2012, they are still in the tenth grade. However, the Upazila education officer, assistant instructor, upazila women affairs officer, and other officers of the Upazila level have been considering upgrading their position in the ninth grade. On the other hand, the post of nurse, family planning inspector, and food inspector has already been made second class from their 13, 12 and 11th grades. But teachers’ up-gradation is taking place slowly. A group of young teachers have joined the government secondary schools as non-cadre BCS officers through the 34th, 35th BCS examination. These deserving young will definitely enrich the secondary level education. Usually, the promotion in the secondary level teaching is very slow, and because of its not being the first class job, many young and meritorious candidates show reluctance to embrace it and those who join leave the job.
The current initiative to change the grade of teachers will give them honour, but financially, they will not be benefitted as many teachers already enjoy the salary of 9th grade and even some in the seventh grade by getting time scale. Because of this grade change, they can be transferred to other education administrative positions such as Upazila education officer, some positions in the DSHE. The government will not have to spend any extra money for upgrading this status. However, teachers will gain some honour that is their due. To bring novelty to the service, teachers should have such opportunities to travel to different academic and administrative positions. We know one headteacher of Sylhet government school used to work as a district education officer in five districts. The teachers of that institution comment that ‘he was the best headteacher we have even seen’. It should definitely be as he got the opportunity to gather huge experience both in the academic and education administration. Teachers’ movement should be such type that will make them much more motivated. The headteachers of government secondary schools are 6th grade, but many headteachers enjoy 4th grade because of getting selection grade salary. This is good.
Teaching is the largest employment market in our country, and its most part is managed in the private sector particularly secondary education. But the non-government secondary teachers have been deprived of this ‘senior teacher’ position that will make them doubly deprived. So, the position of ‘senior teacher’ should be created in the non-government secondary schools, particularly for the MPO enlisted schools. Maybe the non-government teachers will sit for an assessment test satisfying the other three criteria for government teachers after completing eight years’ service. If it is not done, the gap between the government and non-government teachers will continue widening, that we must not expect to witness the more significant benefit of disseminating quality education at the secondary level.