Educationists have long argued that the Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted significant damage upon the education system. However, officials within the Secondary and Higher Education Division appeared to disregard this concern and became complacent, assuming that everything was in order. Consequently, as the quality of education continued to deteriorate, students were unable to make up for the losses incurred.
According to a survey report titled 'Post-Pandemic Education: Recovery and Renewal of School Education' conducted by the non-governmental organisation, Ganashakkharata Abhijan, 28.90 per cent of students in class-VIII and 26.2 per cent of students in class-IX have failed.
Additionally, 36.1 per cent of students in class-VIII and 33.5 per cent in class-IX attained an RD grade, which corresponds to earning marks ranging from 33 to 39 per cent. The report also sheds light on the subject-wise performance of students in class VIII and class IX.
It reveals that 82 per cent of the 8th graders passed with a minimum of 33 per cent marks in Bengali, while 65 per cent passed in English and 66 per cent in mathematics.
Notably, Ganashakkharata Abhijan did not assess learning skills through teacher-student feedback. Instead, they administered a 90-minute test in Bengali, English, and Mathematics. The study encompassed eight districts from eight divisions, 21 upazilas (including three upazilas from seven districts), and two city corporations.
Furthermore, the research has unveiled alarming information, revealing that 85 per cent of 8th and 9th-grade students are reliant on private tutors or coaching. According to parental data, approximately 64 per cent of Class-VIII and 50 per cent of Class-IX students spend between Tk 1,100 and Tk 3,000 per month on private tuition.
According to the report, 79 per cent of primary and 85.5 per cent of secondary students rely on commercial guidebooks for their study and exam preparation. Parents reported an average expenditure of Tk 669 for primary-level students and Tk 2,065 for secondary-level students in the first nine months of 2022.
These facts underscore the precarious condition of our primary and secondary education system. The decline in education quality has been an ongoing issue for many years. Officials within the Secondary and Higher Education Division (SHED) have placed a greater emphasis on raising the pass rates rather than enhancing the quality of education.
They have also engaged in various initiatives related to creative question papers and examinations for Class-V and Class-VIII. While these efforts may boost the coaching industry and guidebook sales, they often fail to benefit the students themselves. If students are certified as having passed without attaining a minimum level of learning, it threatens the integrity of the entire education system.
A prerequisite for the improvement of education is to ensure consistent teaching in every school, following the academic calendar, with competent teachers. Tutorial classes should be arranged for weaker students if necessary. Academics have also offered this advice as a means to mitigate the damage caused by the pandemic.
To make up for the educational losses, officials within the education department should identify areas where teachers and students are struggling and implement remedial measures. If students' dependence on coaching and private tutors cannot be reduced, the dream of improving the quality of education will remain an elusive goal.