Bangladesh: 35 crore spent to improve efficiency of English language teachers

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Aug 15 13:33:48 UTC 2006

Nagorik Committee Consultation Session

Politicised institutions, wrong policy blamed for degrading education

Staff Correspondent

Politicisation of governing bodies of educational institutions and
involving students in party politics, lack of accountability and political
commitment are some of the causes behind degradation of education quality
in the country, eminent educational personalities told a consultative
meeting yesterday.  Criticising the provision of heading the governing
bodies of educational institutions by the parliament members in their
constituencies, they said the trend has led to the politicisation of those
bodies and deterioration of management quality of educational

The Nagorik Committee 2006 organised the fifth expert group consultation
meeting on 'Vision 2021 for Bangladesh: Goal 5: To have a skilled and a
creative workforce' at Cirdap auditorium in Dhaka. Prof Anisuzzaman and
Muhammad Zafar Iqbal jointly chaired the meeting. It is very unfortunate
that the political parties are now using students and their organisations
to serve their political purposes, Prof Zafar Iqbal said, adding that it
has led to a culture of collecting tolls from development works of
educational institutions.

Prof Anissuzzaman said too much emphasis on memorisation is creating
serious problem and ultimately hampering the achievement of the goal of
education. Speaking at the meeting, Prof Dr M Asaduzzaman, chairman of
University Grants Commission (UGC), identified lack of commitment as a
reason for degradation in education quality. When the main objective is to
score marks and achieving degrees, being an educated person gets less
priority, he said, adding that it is very unfortunate that the teachers
are not properly discharging their duties.

Stressing the need for improving the quality of primary education, the UGC
chairman said it is the basic foundation to prepare skilled human
resources. Prof Shaheda Obaid, former chairperson of Board of Intermediate
and Secondary Education, Dhaka, said the governing body and management of
the educational institutions are highly politicised and it is one of the
main causes of poor quality education in the country. "It is very
unfortunate that a member of parliament now heads 40 to 50 educational
institutions. As a result, recruitment of teachers and admission of
students are being done on political considerations," she said.

Blaming lack of political commitment for the situation, Shaheda Obaid said
the present system is creating 'mastans' instead of educating the
students. Around Tk 35 crore was spent to improve the efficiency of
English language teachers under a programme of Dhaka Education Board, she
said. Pointing to the misuse of funds and poor quality of the training
programme, she said, "I doubt whether efficiency of 35 teachers was
improved with the Tk 35 crore fund." Emphasising the need for
concentrating more on creativity, Prof Hafiz GA Siddiqi, vice-chancellor
of North South University, said academic curriculum should be prepared in
a way that would not only serve the purpose at home but also be acceptable

Dr Siddiqur Rahman of Dhaka University said the education system should be
modified so as to cover the underprivileged too. Kazi Rafiqul Alam,
Executive Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission, observed lack of
accountability as a reason for creating a mess in the education sector.
'Buying and selling' of certificates under the National University is
going on, which is very unfortunate, he said, adding that things will not
change without ensuring accountability. It is not possible to control the
activities in some 78,000 primary and 24,000 secondary schools in the
country from Dhaka, said Dr Mahmudul Alam of Bangladesh Institute of
Development Studies.

Local government bodies should be given some responsibilities in running
these institutions, he said. D. Net Executive Director Ananya Raihan
suggested utilisation of creative initiatives in reducing poverty.
Earlier, making a presentation on 'Vision 2021 for Bangladesh: Goal 5: To
have a skilled and a creative workforce,' Debapriya Bhattacharya,
executive director of CPD, stressed the need for universal access to
education up to the secondary level. A decent primary and secondary
education should be given to every child irrespective of his or her family
income level, gender, religion, ethnicity or disabilities, he said.

He suggested recruitment of top university graduates at the primary and
secondary schools by offering them highest paid entry-level jobs. "It is
necessary to keep the students as well as teachers free from party
politics to develop an internationally competitive education system by
2021," he said, adding that political parties should immediately cease
their sponsorship for student politics. There is a need for an education
system where a set of core knowledge and competencies are acquired by all
students at the primary and secondary level, along with choices for
additional and complementary learning options, Debapriya mentioned.

Prof Rehman Sobhan, convener of the Nagorik Committee 2006, and M
Syeduzzaman, former finance minister, were also present at the


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