Teachers interested in private tutoring, no time to take care of weak students

Thirty per cent of secondary schools have no arrangement of extra care for weak or less meritorious students despite the government’s instruction on ensuring extra care for weak students separately by school authorities and teachers.

Rate of students being unsuccessful in exams as well as dropout decreases if weak students are taken care of separately.

But a big portion of teachers are allegedly more interested in tutoring and coaching instead of focusing on students at classrooms. These teachers do not want to give extra time at schools while school authorities claim they often face a teacher shortage.

The academic supervision report of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) highlighted the negligence to less meritorious students.

The DSHE’s Access and Quality Assurance Unit prepared this report after several months. The DSHE prepared the report after collecting data from 6,872 secondary schools across the country in September 2021.

There are 18,874 secondary schools in the country.

According to the report findings, 22 per cent (1,507) of schools take no measure despite identifying the less meritorious students while 8 per cent (527) of schools do not even identify less meritorious students.

The DSHE report released in May also found more or less similar scenario. Previously, the rate was 41 per cent in another report released in January 2020. The DSHE inspects schools separately. In every case, one in three schools has no separate arrangement for taking care of less meritorious students in the country. There are allegations reports are merely being prepared and no measure is being taken as per recommendation.

The DSHE prepares this report in light with the National Education Policy 2010 under the Secondary Education Sector Investment Programme (SESIP).

Speaking to Prothom Alo, SESIP joint programme director (additional responsibility) professor Shamsun Nahar hinted at a lack of initiative in accordance with the recommendations. She said once they receive the report they then send letter to regional director of DSHE to take necessary measures in light with the report, but, problem arises in inspection many times due to lack of coordination.

Currently, academic supervisors of the SESIP programme are not appointed at upazila level under the revenue sector, she said adding, as a result, there has been a lack of coordination between upazila secondary education officer and the project officials.

When this correspondent visited the office of the DSHE director general Nehal Ahmed for a comment on Monday, he said measures had hardly been taken in the past, but it is being done regularly now. A crisis of teachers also intensifies this problem, he mentioned.

Less meritorious student

A student who obtains less than 30 per cent of marks in one or more subjects and does not perform better in continuous assessment (CA) is considered less meritorious. According to the DSHE, class and subject teachers will prepare the list of these students and keep a record on students’ name, roll number, reasons of weakness, type of assistance and outcome of assistance on a dairy.

The latest report of DSHE recommenced for identifying less meritorious students and taking effective measures for them while regional director and district, upazila and thana education officers have been instructed to implement these recommendations.

The DSHE monitored and inspected the secondary schools of the country after dividing those in five categories. Upazila and thana education officers along with other officials of the DSHE are tasked with monitoring and inspecting a school of A category (good) in every three months, a school of B category in two months, a school of C category (good) in one-and-a-half month, and a school of D category (weak) in every month, but sources said schools are not monitored closely.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Dhaka’s Ramna thana education officer Abdullah Al Faruk said there are 39 schools under his jurisdiction and most of the schools take steps for week students, but a few schools do not take it at all.

According to education officials, students performing badly on a subject will be taught separately outside the regular classes.

Former principal of Government Laboratory High School, Dhaka Md Abu Sayed Bhuiyan said this is not a very difficult. But, the reality is most of the schools do not have adequate teachers and many schools do not even have teachers as per their organogram, that is why it is really a difficult to work on it.

There are, for example, 70-80 students in every class at the Government Laboratory High School, he said adding, the school do not have adequate number of teachers to identify the students performing poorly and take classes separately.

Holidays are underway in the secondary schools across the country. However, this correspondent saw AKM Obaidullah, principal of Segun Bagicha High School in the capital, at the latter office on Monday.

Replying to a query on measures taken for the care of less meritorious students separately, he told Prothom Alo his school has arrangements to identify weak students, but it has not possible to provide those student with assistance as much as they need.

Teachers are reluctant to stay after fixed time and had there been a government instruction on this matter it would have been better, he added.

Focus on coaching, not in class

Teachers don’t often have time for extra care for weak students, yet they continue tutoring and teaching at coaching centers. It is no longer a secret now that students attend tuitions and coaching, which have become an alternative to classroom with guardians being forced to spend more on their children’s education.

According to a report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in January 2023 that family bears 71 per cent of education expenditure in Bangladesh while the state of private tutoring increased to 54 per cent in 2010 from 28 per cent in 2000 in rural areas while 67 per cent in 2010 from 48 per cent in cities. The report, however, mentioned nothing about the latest situation.

People concerned said situation has deteriorated in the recent time. Obivabok Okya Froum (Guardian Unity Forum) president Ziaul Kabir told Prothom Alo recently that nowadays, students are not taught at institutions properly and there is no way without tutoring and coaching with guardians becoming a kind of hostage to the teachers.

Mostly weak students

As there is no arrangement for extra care at schools, most students cannot learn various subjects properly. According to a recent report of the DSHE’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, 61 per cent of students are weak in English and 43 per cent perform either badly or on an average at class six.

Affluent people can bear additional expenditure on coaching and tutoring, which people with low income bracket can’t, and that creates a huge discrimination and some families are even forced to send their children to tutoring or coaching despite they cannot afford it.

Wishing anonymity, a father of a student studying at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College said one of his children studies at this institution. Another child also passed the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations from this institution recently and he had to spend Tk 30,000 a month for her on tutoring and coaching purposes, he added.

The education ministry formulated guidelines for schools and colleges operated under this ministry to stop coaching business, but nobody abided by it.

More shortcomings

The latest DSHE report also highlighted various shortcomings that include teachers' training and lack of congenial atmosphere. According to the report, 52 per cent of 86,471 teachers from 6,872 schools surveyed received no training on creative question method.

Besides, 1,856 schools have no scientific laboratories, 1,170 schools have no libraries, 3,844 schools have no computer labs and 3,051 have no multimedia classrooms while toilets are not usable at 207 and there are no toilets at nine schools at all.

Asked on the overall situation, Dhaka University’s Institute of Education and Research professor SM Hafizur Rahma told Prothom Alo most of the schools are non-government schools, where there is a lack of quality teachers, so, it is not possible to identify weak students and take necessary measures by these teachers.

Another problem is a major portion of teachers are interested more in tuition than teaching at classrooms, Hafizur rahman said adding, the monitoring system is weak at secondary level and that must be strengthened as well as arraignment must be taken to recruit meritorious teachers at schools.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna