POST TIME: 30 August, 2018 10:21:16 AM
Ensuring congenial atmosphere in primary education
Crisis of classroom still stands as a great and constant barrier to ensuring congenial atmosphere in our state run primary schools in many urban areas let alone remote rural areas
Masum Billah

Ensuring congenial atmosphere in primary education

With a view to bringing about qualitative change in our primary education, the fourth stage of its development plan popularly known as PEDP-4 has just set in from July 2018. Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) will implement the project in five years, i.e. it will come to end in June 2023. It is known to us that  IDEAL (the Intensive District Approach to Education for All)  Project supported by UNICEF, ESTEEM Project supported by DFID and NORAD supported primary Education Development Project jointly  started PEDP in 1997 that was well known as PEDP-1 and it came to an end in 2003. This phase focused on ten objectives including raising the number of students, their education completion, quality of education and monitoring. Our primary education, probably the largest one in the world, saw its PEDP-2 phase from 2004 to 2011 and then the government gave approval of PEDP-3. However, we still stand far apart from our expectation that has impelled us to start another development phase of this important tier of education.
PEDP-3 gave its principal focus on infra-structure building as it planned to build 3 thousand 685 classrooms, to reconstruct two thousand 709 schools, establish 28 thousand 955 toilets, to install 49 thousand 300 tube wells and to mend 600 classrooms. It also focused on bringing down the teacher and student ratio to 1:40 and establish resource centers in Upazilla and district levels.  There lies no denying the fact that good infrastructure invites children’s attention and interest to come to the classroom that we miserably failed to ensure for our future generation. However, PEDP-3 gave much importance to the fact but how much progress and development has been made through this phase is not clear to the nation.  Still  we witness  those who can afford to send their children to privately run primary schools most parents send their children there. One example can be cited here.  Last year in the primary completion examination 25000 students sat for in Savar Upazial. Out of them only five thousands were from government primary schools and the rest from private kindergartens. What does it signify? We could not have attracted the guardians and children to come to government primary schools even though we spent 22 thousand 196 crore taka only for PEDP-3 Project.

To implement the PEDP-4 Project, 38 thousand 397crore taka will be spent.  Out of which the government will bear 25 thousand 591 crore 57 lakh taka. The rest 12 thousand 805 and 59 lakh taka will be come from  the World Bank, ADB, JAICA, EU, DFID, Australian Aid, Canadian CIDA, Swedish CIDA , UNICEF AND USH. It has been learnt that a Primary Education Board would be created for holding the Primary Education Completion Exam. How come? The whole conscious education community stands against PECE Examination and government several times declared that PECE Examination would be stopped to present a suitable teaching learning atmosphere for the tiny tots avoiding exam centric education. But the PEDP-4 plans to establish a separate education board to conduct PECE examination! This goes against the true spirit of primary education. The program envisages imparting non formal education to 10 lakh out of school children and adoption of special programs for the students with disabilities that we appreciate.

Moreover, one lakh sixty five thousand one hundred seventy four teachers will be employed and upgraded. Importance will be given to teacher training as well. One lakh 39 thousand 174 teachers will receive Dip-In Education, 55 thousand teachers will receive  basic training, 1700 teachers will get one year long sub-cluster training, 20 thousand teachers will get one-year long ICT training, one lakh 30 thousand teachers will receive English training under single source of British Council. Along with teachers, officials will be given training as well. Two thousand 590 Assistant Upazilla Education Officers, Upazilla Education Officers and teachers will be sent abroad for receiving training. 35 thousand officials of MOPME (Ministry of Primary and Mass Education)  and teachers will receive training abroad. Besides this, 200 teachers and officers will participate in one year masters course abroad. It also envisages the construction of 40,000 new classrooms, 10,500 new office rooms for headmasters, 80,000 new wash blocks with sanitation and washroom facilities, safe drinking water facilities at 15,000 primary schools.

The main project components also include supplying teaching-learning education equipment and textbooks in due time and curriculum revision.

 Crisis of classroom still stands as a great and constant barrier to ensure congenial atmosphere in our state run primary schools in many urban areas let alone remote rural areas. To address this issue, PEDP-4 will build forty thousand classrooms that we appreciate. 71 thousand 805 laptops, multi-media projector and speakers will be distributed among schools. 80 thousand teachers will be able to buy IT materials on easy loan. That also deserves praise.

Finally we want to say many projects have been implemented in primary education sector. A huge amount of money has also been spent to make the primary education enjoyable, interesting, exam fear free and attractive. But the practical situation stands miles apart though huge amount of money was spent, many bureaucrats enjoyed visiting foreign lands and facilities had been extended to many. When can we really expect to see a suitable atmosphere in our state run primary schools for our children? Will it really happen or the government will continue letting the privately run kindergartens spread at their unplanned way and with no child-friendly environment and teachers without having any training on pedagogy and child psychology?

The writer works for BRAC Education Programme

Email: masumbillah65@gmail.com