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Educationists raise question about quality despite high pass rate

Mohiuddin Alamgir

Results of Junior School Certificate and Primary Education Completion Examinations has demonstrated high pass rate, but competence as well as quality of education of the successful students can be questioned, educationists have said.
A report of World Bank in December 2013 says although Bangladesh has succeeded in providing greater educational access to its populace, ‘learning is low and unequal’.
Primary exam results published on Monday shows that 98.58 per cent students of grade V passed the exam and Junior School Certificate results published on Sunday shows that 89.71 student of grade VIII passed the examinations.
In primary exam 2,40,961 and in JSC exam 1,52,987 students scored highest Grade Point Average 5.
A Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education learning assessment of students at the secondary education level for grade VIII, carried out in July 2012, has revealed that the proportion of grade IX students who have mastered grade VIII-level competencies in Bangla, English, and mathematics are respectively 44, 44, and 35 per cent. 
Directorate of Primary Education’s National Students Assessment of 2011, carried out in November, said only 25 per cent of grade V students mastered Bangla and only 33 per cent of the students mastered mathematics competencies.
While the national average competency in Bangla among grade V students is 25 per cent, it ranges from 21 to 28 per cent, depending on the division.
The Dhaka and Chittagong divisions are performing better than the national average, but performance in Rajshahi and Sylhet is lagging significantly behind the national average.
The World Bank study said some major projects are now being implemented to address the quality question at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
However, the challenges for improving the quality of education system are daunting and multi-faceted.
They include low learning levels, inadequate acquisition of non-cognitive skills, inequitable learning among students and others.
Campaign for Popular Education executive director Rasheda K Choudhury said according to the National Curriculum and Textbook Board directive, a student must achieve ‘50 skills’ before passing Grade V but in reality there were only 25 per cent question which can test skill and the rest cannot assess the competence. 
Teachers had evaluated scripts leniently to raise the pass rate, said Rasheda K Choudhury, also a former caretaker government adviser.
Manzoor Ahmed, adviser to the Institute of Educational Development in BRAC University, said, ‘High pass rate in primary and junior secondary level do not ensure competence and quality education. I do not see any improvement in this regard.’
He said students’ learning was based on memorising only; they do not acquire competence in many skills.
Primary and mass education minister Nurul Islam Nahid said, ‘Quality of education in the country is improving day by day but it is true that we are yet to reach the global standard.’
‘We are working hard to reach the global standard using whatever best methods we have,’ he said.

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