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Indicative of ruling class’s apathy to public education

THE pedestrian performance of government primary and secondary schools in the capital Dhaka, compared with their non-government and private counterparts, in last year’s primary education completion and junior school certificate examinations seems to be directly correlated with the general indifference that successive governments, including the incumbent Awami League-led one, have displayed towards public education over the years. As New Age reported on Thursday, only one government school in the capital made it to the top 20 under the Dhaka education board, which features 14 non-government schools. Moreover, none of the government schools in the city features in the divisional top 10. Similarly, the top ten performers in the junior certificate examinations feature only one government school from the city.
As mentioned in these columns on several occasions, education has fallen prey to wholesale commercialisation over the past few decades, thanks to flawed policies of the successive governments. Such commercialisation of education has resulted in not only inadequate government allocation but also lax monitoring of schools and colleges by the relevant government agencies. Reports have it that most public schools across the country have been in a chronic manpower and logistic crunch for many years now. Little wonder then that there has been a marked decline in the standard of education in these institutions, prompting those who can afford it to send their children to non-government and private schools equipped with competent teachers and adequate infrastructure and facilities.
It is also important to note that commercialisation has also made education at least in the primary and secondary levels increasingly dependent on private tuition and coaching, which may have further caused public school students to get outperformed by their peers in non-government and private schools in different public exams.
The incumbents, who hardly miss any opportunity to talk about their self-professed achievements in the education sector, need to realise that their apathy to public education is bound to prove self-defeating at the end of the day. Most importantly, it makes a mockery of the state’s constitutional obligation to ensure uniform education for all. Above all, if allowed to continue, it may further widen the rich-poor divide, which, it goes without saying, is detrimental to social harmony in particular. It is imperative thus that they should invest more in public schools.

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