Education system in disarray
Md. Shamsul Islam, Executive Editor, Our Time : A private channel has created quite a sensation in the country lately through exposing the state of affairs in our education system by telecasting a few high-quality investigative reports. First, it showed the financial corruption and economic mismanagement of a couple of our elite and leading private universities. Afterwards, it telecast how top grades are sold in exchange of money at the higher secondary level.
This came as a huge shock to our already fragile education system – struggling badly while trying to develop a state-of-the-art curricula or tackling the question paper leak. The education minister looked pale when he was, somewhat unjustifiably, quizzed by the TV channel. Our media always try to use him as a scapegoat, but, to my mind, he cannot be the sole bearer of our entire nation’s moral turpitude!
The quality of our education system – from secondary to tertiary level, has been subjected to national debate for quite sometime. Luckily, government bodies at times accept the allegations and sporadic attempts are visible from time to time to tackle such issues. For example, we see University Grants Commission (UGC) is posting the list of universities that do not follow its requirements and ask the guardians and students to stay away from the universities.
Sadly, while a good number of universities is failing to comply with the government regulation, it is the UGC which is approving new universities every now and then. With the latest two approved last week, the total number of private universities now stands at 103. However, in April last, newspapers reported that 33 private universities have failed to meet the criteria of establishing permanent campuses though frequent reminders by the UGC. Many universities also were charged with substandard education.
So, the logic behind approving newer universities may be questioned when the older ones are failing to ensure quality education by complying with the government regulations. On what grounds were the approvals given to those universities then? The UGC is now blaming them. But who would take care of the students either enrolled now or already graduated from the universities?
All these reflect the absence of a comprehensive education policy by the government which would morally and intellectually guide our children in the 21st Century. Our education policies are disjointed, lack coherence and are creating fragmentation in the society instead of building national cohesion. Several types of parallel education systems like Bangla medium, English version (national curricula), English medium (O level, A level of UK and GED of USA), madrasa education (Alia and Qawmi) etc. are compounding the system, creating different people with various societal outlook. One of my bureaucrat friends even told me that he found five types of madrasa education system in Chattogram while he was posted there!
But the philosophy of education is changing dramatically at the global level to ensure transparency and build unity among the different segments of people in the society. For instance, reconstructionism as an educational philosophy aims at developing a better society through creating a democratic and tolerant environment. In pursuant to this kind of philosophy, even our neighboring ASEAN member countries are transforming their educational curricula – from primary to tertiary levels, with the purpose of developing cross-country bondage across the entire region.
We need such coherent policies as far as our educational sector is concerned. In addition to selecting particular philosophical approach for our education, we would like to emphasize that the education sector should be only in the hands of the genuine educationalists of the country. When it goes to the non-educationalist ones, as the television reports are now showing, not only the country’s educational quality, but the quality of the entire generation would be affected. It’s high time we salvaged this most valuable sector from unscrupulous persons as well as from wrong policies.