Trials and tribulations of job seekers outside of BCS

A goveremnt job seeker takes the last-minute preparation sitting in front of the examination centre. The picture was taken from the Dhaka University area on 29 October 2021.Dipu Malakar

The 18th teacher registration preliminary exam was held on 15 March this year. Around 1.8 million candidates from all around the country took this exam. As in other exams, the candidates faced all sort of sufferings during thus exam too.

When the candidates were handed the exam papers at the Manipur School centre in Mirpur of the capital that morning, they were flabbergasted. The questions were all wrong. Chaos ensued and when things were finally sorted out, the exam scheduled for 9:00am, eventually began a 10:00am. The question papers from a different exam centre had been photocopied and brought to this centre.

There were allegations that incorrect question papers were handed out at a centre in Cumilla too. Even though the examinees pointed out the mistake to the invigilator, they had to simply go ahead and take the exam. The candidates were perturbed.

What will happen to the students who did not fare well in the exam due to the wrong questions papers? Will they be given a chance to take the exam again? If not, they will have to wait for the next registration exam. By then, many of them would have crossed the eligible age to enter the service

After the exam was over, the examinees went to the Teachers’ Training College and protested in front of the principal’s office. One of the examinees said that at first the exam hall authorities denied having given wrong exam papers, but at the end of the exam it was seen that instead of general school level questions, their questions have been changed with technical and ibtedai level questions.

The teacher registration exam is the biggest exam for job seekers in Bangladesh. It is much on the lines of BCS. In the preliminary test there are multiple choice questions (MCQ). Those who pass this go on to take a subject-based written exam. Then those who pass this are called to appear for an oral exam after which the final selections are made. Then those who are selected will be posted on priority basis to the vacant posts.

What will happen to the students who did not fare well in the exam due to the wrong questions papers? Will they be given a chance to take the exam again? If not, they will have to wait for the next registration exam. By then, many of them would have crossed the eligible age to enter the service. What answer is there for this slip-up?

The recruitment process for non-government schools is quite lengthy. It takes one to one and a half years to complete the BCS exam, but the recruitment process for non-government teachers takes three to three and a half years. Teachers for government secondary schools are appointed through the PSC. Sometimes there are separate exams, and sometimes they are recruited from the BCS non-cadre. Primary school teachers are recruited through the directorate of primary and mass education. There are written and oral exams there too.

The amount of corruption that takes place was apparent from the evidence found at the official residence of the former state minister for primary and mass education Zakir Hossain. A number of job seekers who had paid bribes but still did not get jobs, had gone there to protest. They were beaten up by the minister’s henchmen. Later the detective branch (DB) police intervened and steps were taken to return their money.

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Previously banks would have separate exams for recruitment. But there too exam questions were leaked out in advance. According to Prothom Alo reports, the court has formed charges against 16 persons, including Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) teacher Nikhil Ranjan Dhar, for leaking out the question papers.

The preliminary exam for the recruitment of officers (cash) to five state-owned banks was held on 6 November 2021 under the Bangladesh Bank’s Bankers Selection Committee. A total of 116,427 candidates took the exam against 1,511 posts.

If for any reason the exams are cancelled because of the question papers, the sufferings of the candidates mount. And if the exam is not cancelled, those proffering bribes have a much higher chance of clinching the jobs than the deserving examinees. There are allegations that those involved in the bank recruitment exam question paper leakage in 2021 had taken from Tk 500,000 to Tk 1,500,000 from each candidate.

Outside of that, it is alleged that the job seekers applying for employment in various offices and departments of the government, also have to face all sorts of hassles and delays, as well as having to pay bribes. How to bring an end to this?

On 21 March, the Daily Star ran an investigative report, ‘Desperate for a home away from home’, on Bangladeshi migrants going to Europe. Burgeoning numbers of youth are seeking to go overseas for the simple reason that there are no employment opportunities in the country. The report says, in 2022 the highest number of Bangladeshis, 33,731, sought refuge in countries of the European Union. They did not fix jobs there before they went. Many of them who fell prey to ‘agents’ carried false documents with them. As a result, they are stateless.

Another report in the same newspaper on 25 February said that over one-fourth of the 1.9 million (19 lakh) posts in government service lie vacant. This is reportedly because of the indifference of the authorities in starting the recruitment process.

Up till December 2022, the number of vacant posts in government offices was 503,333. What is the reason for so many vacancies? Do those in the senior positions in the administration not want any new ones to get jobs? There is extreme disorder in Bangladesh’s public administration. Even if there are no posts at the senior level, officers are being given promotions in large numbers. Yet at the lower levels, thousands or posts remain vacant. These posts should either be abolished or recruitments made rapidly.

A large section of the population in Bangladesh now comprises unemployed youth. But those in the leadership of the country hardly seem bothered about these unemployed youth. Before the election their election manifestos have the same old rhetoric about solving the unemployment problems. But once the election is over, all that is forgotten.

Sometime back I had written about the sufferings of the BCS job seekers. After that, the public administration ministry issued a circular after appointing 2,453 persons to the 41st BCS. The Public Service Commission had recommended the names of 2,520. Why were 67 dropped? It would be very unfortunate of they were not appointed simply because they did not get police clearance.

It is the month of Ramadan and so there are fewer job exams. Hopeful job exams in the government and non-government sectors will start in full swing after Ramadan. It is also hoped that the authorities take two justified demands of the job seekers into consideration. One is, that all exams should not be held in Dhaka. The second is, several exams should not be held on the same day. Why should these job exams only be held on Friday? These can be held on Saturday too, and even on weekdays. There is precedence of this in many countries.

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* Sohrab Hassan is joint editor at Prothom Alo and a poet. He can be contacted at [email protected]

* This column appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir

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