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17 November, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Education cadres should not be guinea pigs

The first and foremost concern is that with some exceptions, the BCS education cadre service teachers are recruited through a much more rigorous process
Md Rizwanul Islam
Education cadres should not be guinea pigs

Recently, the government has taken a laudable initiative to nationalise more than three hundred private colleges. The effort is laudable because it would, for sure, alleviate the facilities - both monetary and otherwise - for the teachers and other staff of these colleges. It would also need a bigger financial commitment from the government on education which is also a positive development in a country like ours where public education has never been a priority (except for lip service) for governments. Most of these colleges are in the rural areas which is also a positive thing. However, the initiative, as laudable as it is, is also dubious in at least one aspect, which is the prospect of giving the teachers of the newly nationalised colleges the same status as those who are already recruited as a Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) Cadre through a competitive process. Quite naturally, the teachers who are already recruited through the BCS Examination process, are vehemently opposing this prospect. This write-up would argue that such opposition to the prospect of giving the soon to be nationalised college teachers the status of a BCS cadre is not only a matter of professional pride for the teachers of BCS education cadre service, but has broader issues.

Giving equal status in terms of financial incentives would be a deserved incentive for the teachers of private colleges which are going to be nationalised. Indeed, if those teachers do not get equal financial benefits, then their status as government college teachers would be futile; and to my knowledge, nobody, including thousands of government college teachers, who are opposing the prospect, have any qualms about it. However, it is argued here that giving these newly nationalised college teachers equal status as a BCS cadre would be a flawed decision on many counts.

With due respect to the teachers of private colleges and their recruiters, the first and foremost concern is that with some exceptions, the BCS education cadre service teachers are recruited through a much more rigorous process.  On the other hand, the exchange of undue benefits and lax standard in the recruitment of many private colleges is well-documented in many newspaper reports over the years and need not be replicated here.

However, very few fair-minded observers would claim that the teachers of these newly nationalised or soon to be nationalised college have been recruited through an equally rigorous process as their counterparts in the government colleges have been. Thus, treating the unequal as equal, it would be said here, is unfair.

Another concern is that this giving the private college teachers the BCS Cadre status would signal a neglect to the status of education cadre service. It is difficult to think the policymakers would ever ponder such a drastic step in relation to any other cadre service. For example, it is perhaps unimaginable that the government could ponder this in relation to the medical cadre service. Thus, this would strengthen the perception that education cadre is among the most neglected cadre services. In a way, the potential move can be interpreted as ‘anyone can be a BCS education cadre’.

Such a perception would be a disincentive for the young generation who is currently considering their career moves. Such an outcome cannot be desired by anyone who cares about the quality of education imparted by our public educational institutions. Another danger is that if the private college teachers are made BCS Cadre, some of the corrupt practices in the recruitment process of some private colleges would get a further impetus. Many job seekers would be more desperate to get a position in a private college with the knowledge and hope that they would eventually get equal benefits and the status of a BCS education cadre.

Such a perception runs the risk of breeding more corruption in the process of recruitment in many private colleges and this may be good for some corrupt recruiters, but not for the society.

It is probably natural that the teachers of the newly nationalised colleges or those colleges which are in the process of nationalisation would be more serious and organised in their efforts to secure the status of a BCS cadre. After all, for them, a lot depends on this. On the other hand, for most teachers who are recruited through the BCS Examination, this is more of a matter of status and emotion. Thus, it is improbable that those who are already in the BCS education cadre service would be fighting on this issue as hard as their counterparts. Again, with the upcoming national parliamentary election, there is a possibility of appeasement and the government may be more likely to be in a generous mood. However, from the point of view of meritocracy and the image of education cadre service, a seemingly generous move appears to be a regrettable one. It is hoped that the policy makers would reverse their position.

The writer is an Associate Professor at Department of Law, North South University

 

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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.

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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