Education system needs intensive review

Top: (L to R) Manzoor Ahmed and Rasheda K Choudhury; Bottom: (L to R) Quazi Faruque Ahmed and Binayak Sen

All sorts of experiments are being carried out regarding education. Sometimes a certain examination is introduced, and then dropped after some time. Different methods are adopted at different times. That is why an intensive review of the education system is essential. Education must be kept outside of everyday politics and the problems resolved.

These observations were made by writers and researchers related to education at a discussion on the book 'Ekush Shotokey Bangladesh: Shikkhar Rupantor' ('Bangladesh in the 21st Century: Transformations in Education) written by BRAC University's emeritus professor and educationist Manzoor Ahmed, and published by Prothoma Prokashon. The discussion took place yesterday, Thursday, at the Prothom Alo office.

Nationalisation of the education system and 'government-isation' is not the same. It cannot be called nationalisation where there is no autonomy, where teachers do not have the right to express themselves freely
Quazi Faruque Ahmed, veteran educationist

The book extensively reviews Bangladesh's education system from the independence of the country down till the present, and also discusses aspired transformations of the system. Despite news education commissions being formed during the rule of various governments, the transformation of education did not take place as hoped. In this book, Dr Manzoor Ahmed discusses in detail these transformations and how to achieve this goal. In the 14 chapters of this nearly 400-page book, arranged in four parts, the writer highlights various progressions and predicaments of the education system in Bangladesh. The book costs Tk 850.

Speaking at the discussion, the writer Manzoor Ahmed said that education is a multidimensional complex matter. There are over 40 million students, thousands and thousands of teachers, educational institutions, parents and guardians in the country. Most of the population is involved in education in one way or the other. Education influences their lives in various ways. Everyone's views and opinions must be taken into cognizance in determining the objectives and strategies. But there is a lack of leadership in this area. Only the symptoms of the disease have been addressed instead of going to the root cause. That is why there are so many different decisions and experimentations with education. It is essential to go the root of the problem and find a solution.

Manzoor Ahmed said, the country's future generation, aims and objectives cannot advance without education. That is why there needs to be an effort to free education from the influence of conventional maleficent politics and work towards a solution.

Taking part in the discussion, former caretaker government advisor and executive director of CAMPE Rasheda K Choudhury said there is need to review the system in detail. Academic discussions will amount to nothing if the existing reality on ground is sidestepped. Research is required to understand the reality. People's voices must be heard.

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Bangladesh Institute of Development Research (BIDS) Binayak Sen said, we have managed to come to a certain level with low level education and discrepancies. But till the year 2041, there needs to be radical changes in the coming years in all sectors of the society.

Veteran educationist and member of the National Education Policy -2010 formulation committee, Quazi Faruque Ahmed, said nationalisation of the education system and 'government-isation' is not the same. He said it cannot be called nationalisation where there is no autonomy, where teachers do not have the right to express themselves freely.

BIDS researcher Zulfiqar Ali said, education is going through all sorts of experimentations. There existed one method of education, then the creative method came along. Now it is being said that the creative method isn't working. A new curriculum has been introduced. Before, there were the SSC and HSC public exams. Then public exams were introduced at Class Five and Class Eight. Now they are saying this is not right. So there is need for an intensive review of the education system.

BIDS researcher Siban Shahana took part in the discussion on the book, saying around 23 per cent of the youth are coming forward for higher education, but when their complete their higher education, around 28 per cent of them do not find jobs. Some studies put this figure at 66 per cent.

Human rights activist Sheepa Hafiza said, gender equality, responsibility and other such issues are not being included properly in education. Schools do not teach basic rights and wrongs and so these youth do not learn to speak out against wrongdoings.

Institute of Informatics and Development (IID) founder Syeed Ahamed said that the book under discussion had several guidelines about tackling the challenges ahead.

BRAC University teacher Manjuma Akhter said that is book was a significant record of the growth of education in the country over the past 50 years.

In his introductory speech, Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman said, Prothom Prokashi, brings out books on various subjects from the independence of Bangladesh to books on health, economy, disaster management and so on. This book is a part of that continuity. It is an extremely important book.

Conducted by coordinator of Prothoma Prokashon, Javed Hussain, the event was also addressed by East West University's treasurer Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, British High Commission official Golam Kibria, advisor to the NGO ASPBAE, M Enamul Huq, teacher Ranajit Poddar and BRAC official Dilruba Sultana. They posed various questions to the writer.

Professor Manzoor Ahmed replied to the questions and comments and suggested that Prothom Alo hold a series of roundtables on various sub-sectors of education.

Prothoma Prokashon's coordinator Marina Yeasmin delivered the closing address.

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