Not quite a marker of quality education
THE education minister claimed on Thursday that Bangladesh had set a ‘record’ in free textbook distribution as the Awami League-led government celebrated ‘textbook festival’ by distributing primary and secondary school books across the country. He also claimed that 30 crore new textbooks had reached all the schools and madrassahs across the country for free distribution among 3.7 crore pre-primary, primary and secondary students.
I have been working for the development of primary and secondary education for about 20 years. I could not find English textbooks in the classes of rural schools; rather, students bring guide and notebooks. The scenario is the same at schools in many towns. Students as well as teachers are depending on the guide and note books for other subjects as well. Many schools have got multimedia projectors, costing a huge amount of public money. However, these are not used in classrooms because, costly as these are, the projectors are locked in vaults for safety at the behest of the head teachers. Meanwhile, many schools have to do without even a standard blackboard.
Almost all schools are very much busy with conducting of public examinations, model tests, terminal examinations, pre-tests, etc. We used to have only one pre-test before the secondary school certificate examinations and now primary and junior school certificate examinations have been added.
Moreover, classes are not held in January because students remain busy collecting books and because annual sports and other functions are held at this time of the year. Classes also remain suspended because of SSC examinations in February and March, with some schools designated as centres and others providing invigilators. Many more days are also lost on account of many other reasons and occasions.
However, the pass rate continues to increase significantly and the education minister keeps claiming that the quality of education has improved. Only recruiting quality and dedicated teachers can bring quality education but the incumbents do not seem concerned at all in this regard.
If the incumbents are really serious and sincere about improvement in the quality of education, they need to focus on recruitment of competent and qualified teachers at every tier of education. A separate Public Service Commission for recruitment and promotion of teachers, which the incumbents have promised, would certainly be a good start.
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