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25 November, 2015 00:00 00 AM

Bangladesh education sector needs reforms

Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Bangladesh education sector needs reforms

Education remains a matter of paramount importance in every nation's life. It deepens the understanding of the surrounding environment and world. It enriches people's minds, moral and ethical standards by broadening their experience and outlook. It strengthens people’s ability to contribute to knowledge, wisdom and to productivity by acquiring skills and dexterity. The nations that placed education and human resource development on top of national agenda achieved accelerated socio-economic, politico-cultural, herito-religious, science and technological development and growth.
The literature and public discussions about education and socio-economic development in general, and education and employment in particular in most of the cases revolve mainly around two fundamental processes. Firstly, the interaction between economically motivated demands and socio-politically responsive supplies in determining how many educational institutional places are made available, who gets access to these institutions, and the quality, nature and kind of instructions they are provided with; and secondly, the important distinction between private and social costs and benefits of different levels of education and the significance of these differentials for educational investment strategy to train manpower for socio-economic development. From this point of view Bangladesh cannot be an exception.  But as we see, like many other developing countries, as numerous studies of migration in diverse countries show, in Bangladesh also, to a large extent, internal migration seems to be because of the spread of faulty and inappropriate education system. It has been found that in developing countries like Bangladesh there is a positive correlation between the educational attainment of individuals and his or her propensity to migrate to urban from rural areas. The individuals who have attained higher levels of education face wider rural-urban real-income differentials. They migrate because of higher possibilities of obtaining modern-sector jobs for them in the urban areas than those with lower levels educational attainment. The growing number of the higher educated rural migrants accounts for growing proportion of urban unemployment among the less educated.
Education also plays a powerful role in the so-called “brain drain” in the form of international migration of high-level educated persons from poor countries like Bangladesh to advanced rich countries. Especially this is true in the case of engineers, scientists, academics, physicians, architects and technologists to contribute further in and reap the benefit from the economic growth and development of the already affluent countries. They are many thousands in numbers whom the home-country educational institutions have trained at considerable social costs.
The international brain drain affects the style and approach of educational system in the poor countries like Bangladesh together with its effects, like in all other poor countries, on the rate and structure of Bangladesh economic growth and development. The most serious problem that emanates from international migration or brain drain, broadly construed, is this has seriously reduced the supply of vital professional human resource available within this poor country. On the other hand, the process of brain drain has diverted the attention and changed the outlook of the professionals like engineers, scientists, academics, physicians, architects, from and regarding the important local socio-economic problems and goals.
Bangladesh needs the facilities such as, the promotion of low-cost preventive health care; the development of appropriate technology; the design and construction of low-cost housing, hospitals, schools and other service facilities; the development of relevant and suitable university teaching materials such as appropriate introductory social sciences and of other disciplines’ texts; the design and building of functional but in-expensive labour-intensive roads, bridges, and machinery; and the promotion of problem-oriented research on vital and necessary domestic scientific and technological field relevant to socio-economic growth and development issues. But these are seriously neglected.

The highly educated and highly skilled Bangladesh professionals, dominated by affluent-country ideas as to what represents genuine and true professional excellence, even do not physically migrate to rich countries, nevertheless migrate intellectually in respects of orientation of their behaviours and activities. This “internal” brain drain is much more dangerous and serious than the external one from the view point of national economic growth and development of least developed countries like Bangladesh.
As for example, we usually and constantly find preventive tropical medicine is considered a second-rate specialty while considerably large numbers of physicians specialising in heart diseases. The low-cost housing, schools and clinics remain an area of remote concern while Bangladeshi architects are concerned with the design of national monuments and ultra modern public and private buildings. In poor countries like Bangladesh simple machine-tools, hand or animal-operated farm equipments, basic sanitations and water-purifying systems, and labour-intensive mechanical processes are relegated to the attention of “foreign experts” while indigenous engineers and scientists concentrate on the newest and most modern electronic equipments.
The problems of poverty, unemployment, rural development and education are considered less intellectually interesting but some academic economists teach and research totally irrelevant, sophisticated mathematical models of nonexistent competitive market economies. In all these diverse professional activities, performance criteria are often based not on contributions of national development but rather on praise from international community professional mentors in developed countries.
On the other hand, in the academic side, what we usually observe in Bangladesh these days is the dissemination of fake but not pure education through the leakage of question papers of different public examinations including Public Service Commission (PSC).  This remains a matter of great concern for the conscious citizens of the country. The government could not prevent such heinous act of vandalism. The criminals are repeatedly doing this to the damage of a vital sector like education to the ruin of the backbone of the country. The government should take immediate steps to stop the recurrence of such damaging means of passing public examinations and obtaining jobs. Since huge amount of common taxpayer’s money from the public exchequer is being spent every year for supposed augmentation of the sector the dignity and sanctity of this sector should be maintained at any cost. Moreover, to the conscious people’s surprise this sector remains almost always turbulent for this or that reason including the reason of feuding students and teachers political alliance to different national political parties. Various problems like the demand for separate pay scale for the public university and government college teachers that still continue and pending unresolved haunts the academic institutions. Now the head masters of primary schools have joined the movement. Other factors like pay scale disparities and discontent prevailing in the primary school teachers were attributed to the agitation of teachers and students. Added to these are the medical and dental colleges’ admission seekers are agitating for cancellation of the admission tests results. They alleged that the question papers were leaked ahead of the admission test. It is apprehended that the current crisis in the education sector may further aggravate the education environment as a whole in the country if government fails to justifiably solve the problem.
The teachers' demand is genuine because their position has been down graded. The teachers should be put on their dignified position to maintain the quality of education.         But we may hasten to remark that the monetary emoluments that are given to the teachers are not the only gauge to measure the dignity of the teachers – their academic responsibility and performance also matter. Average Bangladeshi teachers are yet to be more responsible, skilled and honest to their duties as researchers and classroom teachers to claim due respect of the country’s citizens and stand up on their dignity – only money cannot buy such things.  Bellow standard of education coupled with continued unrests in the campus has pushed many brilliant and affluent Bangladeshi learners to foreign educational institutions abroad for better education. This is enough to tell upon the prestige of the country’s educationists and the education environment of the country.  
Besides the teachers' problem, the problem of the admission seeking students remains equally important and likely to be intensified in the coming days. If the government fails to meet the genuine demand of the teachers and students, the situation will be heated that will disrupt normal academic activities in the country’s educational institutions. It happens in our campus often and the students prolong their academic time to pass out from the universities. Such delays affect the student's ability to get a job in time besides their guardians require spending more money than necessary. Likewise the teachers, shunning politics, corruptions, negligence and private coaching businesses, should be sincerely mindful to their duties in normal times in building the future generation.
So it is clear that, in many dimensions, the education sector in Bangladesh is in urgent need of thoroughgoing change and reform conducive to its national need based on indigenous heritage and culture if it is to be of any use to the socio-economic progress of the country at all. Otherwise the money spent, however large in amount that may be in national budgets, on national education, will tantamount to repeatedly digging hole and refilling it.

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre



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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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