Management committees must be free of political influence

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Prothom Alo has reported that the government is going to amend the regulations of the governing body and management committee of secondary and higher secondary private educational institutions.

The amendment proposal is that those who will assume the post of the management committee president must have minimum higher secondary educational qualifications. Currently there’s no standard for their educational qualification.

Whether this too will remain just a plan, concerns have arisen regarding that. There has been talk of bringing actual education enthusiasts into the management committees of private educational institutions for years. Even after many amendments, it cannot be said that the objective has been fulfilled.

There are more than 35,000 secondary and college level private educational institutions in the country now. Including 2,716 new ones the number of MPO-listed institutions among them is 29,164.

The management committee of the secondary schools consists of 11 to 14 members including one chairman or president.

The committee also includes two elected members and one reserved woman member from among the teachers, four elected members and one woman member from among the parents of the students, one elected founder member, one donor member and the head of the institution as the member secretary. Committees on the higher secondary level institutes are also of the similar sort.

If the management committee performs its duties properly, academic activities of any educational institution are supposed to be running smoothly. But in most cases those who become the head of these committees are accused of using the educational institutions for their personal and collective gain.

According to the regulations of 2009, a member of parliament could be president of maximum four educational institutions in his constituency.

The High Court had declared some parts of that regulation illegal back in 2016. As a result, members of parliament cannot become chairmen of educational institutions within their constituencies even if they want to.

Even though they cannot be chairmen, they try to have an influence on the educational institutions by including their relatives, wives, sons, daughters and followers in the committees. Not only members of the parliament, local public representatives also do the same.

For there being no hard and fast rules regarding the educational qualification for becoming the chairman of the management committee of secondary schools and colleges, people having no ties with education reins over the teachers sitting in that post.

A year ago, Swapan Kumar Biswas, acting principal of Mirzapur United College in Narail Sadar upazila had been harassed. The president of the college governing body is the president of Narail Sadar Upazila Awami League. He did not stand by the victim teacher after the incident.

With the intention with which the members of the parliament were excluded from the management committees of non-government educational institutions, has not been fulfilled. Teachers also cannot work freely due to political influence and pressure.

What is astonishing is that a large section of those who are on the management committee of non-government educational institutions are 'outsiders'. Since they don't live in the area, they don't really bother about how the educational institutions are running.

Whichever party comes to power, its leaders and workers and their confidantes become regulators of the non-government educational institutions and they will prioritise their individual and collective interests more than the welfare of education and educational institutions; this cannot be allowed to continue.

If the government actually wants to improve the quality of education in these private educational institutions, alongside determining the minimum educational qualification of the chairman, the management committee has to be kept free of political influence.