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19 January, 2021 03:37:43 PM
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National Teachers' Day: Let the tangible appraisal be done

The notion of teachers' dignity has changed today because academicians are no longer the regulators of education. Now influential people have taken the control of education and teachers have become puppets in their hands
Majhar Mannan
National Teachers' Day: Let the tangible appraisal be done

On January 19, 2003, the then government launched the National Teachers' Day with a pledge to establish the teaching community in Bangladesh with due dignity. The overall development and self-sufficiency of a country depends on the education infrastructure and quality of education in that country. Teachers do the main work in nation building. Are the teachers good today? The question that revolves around this day comes up again and again. Almost everyone knows the social and financial status of teachers in Bangladesh. The culture of neglecting teachers is nothing new in our country. It is easy to imagine how far behind teachers are in terms of salary and other benefits. Teachers are frequently seen going on hunger strike day after day in front of the National Press Club with the aim of gaining various rights such as salary, allowances, job security, promotion, MPO enrollment and social status.
When the national pay scale was announced in 2015, university teachers were seen struggling to get their demands met. University professors were then placed below secretaries on the pay scale. Later, through various steps, the complication came to an end. In 2016, Shyamal Kanti, a teacher from Narayanganj, was severely humiliated with false accusations. In addition, many unfortunate incidents of insulting teachers in different parts of the country have been published in newspapers. Teachers' financial inadequacies, political influence and social intolerance have largely tarnished the greatness of the teaching profession. Inequality has become evident in the education system due to public and private classification. Non government teachers are the biggest victims of education discrimination. There are also wide variations in the pay structure of teachers. As there is a difference in the management of madrasah, general education and English medium education, there is a disparity in salary, allowances and other benefits. Public universities have a specific salary structure for teachers, but private universities do not have such kind of salary structure. Exactly the same situation is noticeable in primary, secondary and colleges. Non government school and college teachers have to lead a life of hardship due to their financial quandary. There is an extreme contraposition in the salaries of government and non government teachers in primary schools. Non MPO teachers have been struggling for a long time to get MPO enrollment. Recently some teachers have already been enrolled in the MPO. Non-government schools and colleges are managed by a management committee and this management committee's limitless dominance, manipulation, recruitment corruption, political interference are no longer unknown to anyone. In all these committees, neutral, highly educated, education loving scholars and learned can no longer be found today.
The notion of teachers' dignity has changed today because academicians are no longer the regulators of education. Now influential people have taken the control of education and teachers have become puppets in their hands. The status of teachers depends not only on social status but also on financial matters and they are far behind in both these respects. UNESCO has strong recommendation for teachers' status and says to ensure the safety, professionalism and position. Teachers must have adequate freedom to perform their professional duties. UNESCO added that teachers' salaries and social status must be ensured so that they can live beautifully and teach comfortably. It has been said in the education policy 2010 to eliminate pay inequality between government and non government teachers. The private education system has severe mismanagement, irregularities, exploitation, deprivation and pay discrimination. The promotion of non government teachers seems to be a very rare thing. MPO enlisted college teachers have only one promotion opportunity in their job period and that is to go from lecturer to assistant professor. All lecturers do not get it and many lecturers have to retire without promotion. Good salary, personality, job satisfaction, and social status are deeply connected with promotion. Indeed, teaching has become a thankless job today. Ibtedayi madrasah and non government schools do not have the same financial and managerial advantages like government schools. Teachers are also failing to strengthen their own position for various reasons. Notable among these are internal conflict, political factions, flattery, tailgating, nepotism, reluctance to research, deterioration of student -teacher relationship, coaching reliance, unavailability, deprivation and so on. In Bangladesh, for various reasons, talented young people do not want to come into the teaching profession. In this profession they do not find any dream of their future and do not find any spirit to build a career. However, the World Bank says that Bangladesh needs to provide quality teachers if it wants to create a skilled population. This profession is failing to attract young people due to low wages, poor social status and lack of other facilities.
Many talented young people have already left teaching profession and gone to another professions. According to a World Bank report, huge inequalities in education remain in Bangladesh's schools due to the low quality of the teaching profession. The position of teachers in Bangladesh has changed a lot in the last four decades but it is still stuck in a web of boundless problems. Teachers' development is one of the 17 goals set by UN for sustainable development. The number of non government schools and colleges in Bangladesh is much higher than the number of government schools and colleges. But in all these non government schools and colleges, there are various complications in getting promotion of teachers. There is no promotion system for teachers at secondary level. The post of associate professor and professor has not yet been created in non government colleges. But the best news is that Sheikh Hasina's government has brought MPO enlisted teachers under annual increment. This 5 percent increment annually has multiplied the financial status of teachers many times over. Government primary teachers are still vocal in demanding implementation of time scale, promotion and elimination of pay inequality.  Meanwhile, the salaries of government primary school assistant teachers have been upgraded to 13th grade. While there is hardly dissatisfaction with the salaries and promotions of public university teachers, but there is a very limited allocation for research. Many educational institutions have teachers crisis and this has an impact on other teachers and overall education. About 10 lakh teachers working in 66000 Kindergartens are living miserable lives during this corona epidemic. Many non government teachers are struggling to sustain their teaching profession due to Covid-19 epidemic. The proposal to nationalize the whole education has been made in many ways to eliminate inequality in education. Several educational institutions have already been nationalized and some institutions are in the process of nationalization. MPO enlisted teachers have long been proposing to nationalize their jobs and educationalists have also spoken of the nationalization of education. The government has said that various educational institutions will be nationalized in phases. Non government teachers who are only paid from institution have had their salaries halved or stopped somewhere during this Covid-19 epidemic and they are in severe financial crisis. In the current situation, what message the National Teachers' Day 2021 sends to 20 lakh teachers in Bangladesh is now a matter of consideration. The country's grassroots teachers do not have the training opportunities and they do not have the scope to become skilled teachers.
Among Asian countries, the social status of teachers in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia is much higher. Having high dignity, talented youngsters come to the teaching profession there and continue the job with satisfaction. In China, India and Guyna, families still encourage their children to become teachers. According to a survey by Darky Foundation, in a society where teachers have a high status, students get better education. Initiatives are being taken by the government to implement quality education in Bangladesh and in order to do that social and financial status of teachers is must. The quality of education is highly dependent on teachers' upgradation. Teachers in Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, India, New Zealand, and Singapore are specially evaluated and these countries are reaping the benefits of education. It is nothing but foolishness to expect a good education system by depriving the teachers. Milk cannot be expected from a cow without adequate food and care. Promises to formulate a separate pay structure for teachers in Bangladesh have been repeatedly heard but it is still stuck in a dungeon due to bureaucratic complications.
Although Bangladesh is ahead of India in GDP in 2020, the difference in the salary structure of teachers between these two countries is equal to Everest. Even in Pakistan, teachers' salaries and benefits are much higher than ours. In addition, the benefits of teachers in Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Brazil are much higher than ours. If the teachers' condition is not upgraded, the educational institutions will turn into commercial institutions instead of services. The pressure of finance and coaching will increase on students to confirm their own financial benefits. Evening courses have already been introduced in public universities to ensure higher funding ,which has drawn a lot of criticism. These courses are run on a commercial basis and have become an obstacle to real education. Teachers will continue to come up with legitimate and illegitimate ways to protect their own existence, which will exacerbate the education crisis. This will increase the cost of education, admission fee, tuition fee and other expenses.
At present the honour of the professionals is determined not by their profession but by the national salary grade. There is a tendency to deceive teachers often with a false consolation and that is the teaching is a noble profession that cannot be determined with money. Those who say such things do not seem to want to improve the quality of teachers. The culture of deprivation of teachers in Indian subcontinent started from the time of British rule and although India and Pakistan have come out of that culture a lot, Bangladesh has not yet reached the desired level. India and Pakistan have a good position in the world rankings with salaries and respects of teachers. India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka have encouraged talented people to enter teaching profession with good salaries. According to a survey, 81 percent students of China think that teachers must be respected and because of this kind of mentality, teachers there occupy a higher position than other professionals. Only 36 percent of students worldwide have the mentality of respecting teachers. There is no need to rethink the attitude of the general public towards teachers in our society.
Education is one of the 26 Cadre services in BCS. But no candidate usually wants to have this cadre as their first choice. Among the 26 Cadres in terms of their preference, education is at the lowest level. 4 lakh 12 thousand applications were submitted against 1903 posts in 40th BCS. But less than 1 percent of candidates applied to general education as their first choice. But there are more posts in the education cadre, yet the candidates put it at the end of their choice. If they cannot find a job at all, they choose to teach in secondary and primary schools. In short, teaching is their back-up job, not main profession. They feel that their merits in this profession are not properly evaluated. About 60 percent of non cadre primary school headmasters later quit their jobs. They do so because of the obvious lack of social status, salaries, allowances and other benefits.
Many talented young people join as university teachers but later go abroad for higher studies and never return to the country. There they start teaching at high salaries. The most highly educated and talented young people join the teaching profession in Finland. They have to do a course before becoming a teacher and those who do well in this course get the opportunity to work in schools-colleges-university according to their merits. In an ideal education system the best and most talented teachers work in primary schools. But in our country the opposite picture is noticeable. Many teachers are losing their human qualities and moral values as a result of financial hardship, weak social status and professional minority. Instead of teaching in the classroom, they are becoming more interested in coaching. At present, various types of trainings are being imparted to enhance the professional skills of the teachers, but if there is a weakness in turning, it will not bring any success. It is not possible to build a beautiful society without upgrading the condition of teachers. Every year on 19th January National Teachers' Day is celebrated to keep the dignity of the teachers community. The day is important in recognition of the role of teachers. Teachers are the bearers and carriers of civilization. The teaching profession has to be challenging and accountable and this requires proper evaluation of teachers. The story of teacher development should not be limited to mere word of mouth, it should become a reality. The teachers have to find a way to get rid of the deprivation without keeping it in their chests. If there is no qualitative change of teachers and education, there will be no success in celebrating this day.


The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola, Dhaka Cantonment.

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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