A sadly familiar tale
Regardless of the claim made often by the government high-ups, especially the education minister, that steps have been taken to bridge urban-rural gap in education, educational institutions located in rural areas continue to fare worse than their counterparts in urban areas in public examinations. The latest example in this regard is the result of the Higher Secondary Certificate examinations, made public on Saturday. According to a New Age report, no government colleges in rural areas have been ranked in the lists of top 10 institutions under four general education boards, Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Dinajpur, while only one rural college each in Rajshahi and Jessore boards and two such institutions in Comilla and four in Barisal could manage to earn place in such lists. Meanwhile, most rural colleges that have places in the best 10 lists are reportedly located in upazila headquarters. According to media reports quoting board sources, most of the unsuccessful students also belong to rural institutions. Results of the latest Secondary School Certificate exams have also shown a similar trend.
The scenario mentioned above is a clear manifestation of the yawning gap between the rich and the poor or, in other words, the privileged and the underprivileged. It is all the more so as the former predominantly live in urban areas, while the latter mostly in rural areas. It is also an established fact that being subjected to flawed policies, successive governments since independence have carried coal to Newcastle when it concerned development—social, economic and otherwise. Unfortunately, the sectors connected to basic rights such as education, healthcare etc are no exceptions in this regard. Overall, in terms of infrastructural development, educational institutions in different cities received the most attention of the ruling quarters. On the other hand, teachers having skills have also shown an increasing tendency to work in urban areas for understandable reasons. It is then little wonder that, with rundown infrastructure and teachers lacking adequate training, most rural educational institutions continue to fail to deliver in an expected manner. What is worse, rampant commercialisation in the sector resulting in students increasingly dependent on commercial private tuition or coaching in recent times has aggravated the situation further.
It is indeed high time that the government came out of its policies that discriminate against rural people, particularly when it comes to ensuring their education and other basic rights. After all, the constitution has mandated the state to address any sort of discrimination regardless of its basis.
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