Education policy only in name

Mustak Ahmed . Dhaka | Update: | Print Edition

A number of recommendations of the National Education Policy, including extending primary education to class eight, have not been implemented in eight years.

The government has not allotted any funds in these eight years to implement the policy either. In reality, the education sector is running on a makeshift system and on executive orders.

An education act is a must to implement the National Education Policy. It has been seven and half years that the authorities have been working on the act, meaning it is very unlikely that the policy will be implemented during the tenure of this government. Educationists think coaching centre owners are behind this delay. Till date, there have been eight education commissions or committees, but with no results either because of a change in  government or because of protests from different entities.

This government had the best chance to make it work, but unfortunately it did not avail this opportunity.

Teachers and members of the policy formulation committee say lack of political will, lack of coordination between the officials of the education ministry and the primary and mass education ministry and bureaucratic tangles are the main obstacles to the law being enacted.

Education minister Nurul Islam Nahid recently told Prothom Alo that the implementation of the National Education Policy is a continuous process, very much like enacting the education act.

The education policy formulation committee was formed on 8 April in 2009 with late national professor Kabir Chowdhury in the chair. The recommendations made by them were okayed by the cabinet in May 2010. In January 2011, 24 sub-committees were formed to facilitate the implementation of the policy. However, most of the committees did not function as planned. Only a few targets, including pre-primary education for all and books for all, have been achieved.

As per the education policy, primary education was to be extended to class eight from class five by 2018. The government extended 600 primary schools to class eight on pilot basis but it did not go further. There are 63,601 government primary schools in the country.

In 2016, the education ministry and the primary and mass education ministry jointly announced that primary education was extended up to class eight. It was suggested that the Primary Education Completion examinations be abolished and an exam taken at the end of class eight, but it was turned down. Secondary education was not extended to class twelve either.

As per the education policy, in the primary schools there will be quarterly, half-yearly and annual examinations from class three while in class five there will be a unified examination at upazila or municipality level. But now Primary Education Completion examinations are being held centrally. Teachers and guardians say this is a burden on the children as dependency on coaching and private tuition are on the rise.

Former adviser to a caretaker government Rasheda K Chowdhury said, “This Primary Education Completion examination makes no sense. And in truth, it does not do the students any good. Rather research shows that it has only increased dependency on coaching and private tuition. If primary education was extended up to class eight, it would have a positive impact on the standard of education.”

The education policy also suggested splitting the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education into Directorate of Secondary Education and Directorate of Higher Education and Research, but the education ministry was split in two. However, the Directorate of Madrasa Education came into being.

A separate education policy was to be introduced for the teachers while a permanent national education commission and another commission to recruit teachers (in the model of PSC) were to be set up, yet none of these took place.

Although the draft of the education policy was formulated in January 2011, there has not been any development in the last seven and half hours. It also imposed a ban on private tuition and guide and note books, but owners of different coaching centres have been successful in preventing enaction of the law.

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