Societal Gap, Poor Schooling and Achieving Quality Education By -Ikhtiarul Arefeen
Education is one of the basic needs. It promotes humanity and all types of development in every aspect of life with equal distribution as its basic tenet. Whoever leads the education sector leads the world. Greater civilizations prosper through achieving knowledge with the leading educational arrangement in their contemporary world.
Bangladesh is trying to cope up with multiple challenges on its way to achieving large scale development in every sector. Achieving quality education for all in the country is one of the major goals in this regard. The country is experiencing immense gap between the expectations and achievements in education. Inequality and inequity remain major issues in this sector. According to a recent report by Education Watch, about one-third of primary school graduates in Bangladesh do not possess basic literacy skills such as reading, writing and numeracy. It said, half of the population over the age of 11 is not literate and, at the current rate of progress, it would take 44 years to have a fully literate population over the age of 11. National and international organizations are investing themselves in the country with different concepts such as excellent education, quality education and so on while putting inclusiveness at the forefront of their goals.
Excellent education is what can be achieved through inclusive means. Students in an excellent learning process can use their cognitive powers and behavioral intellectuality. Moreover, it also means inclusive education. The Constitution of Bangladesh wholeheartedly promotes inclusive approaches in education. It states education as a basic necessity of life and it is fundamental responsibility of the state to attain this need. Free and compulsory education for all children are to be achieved through effective measures by the government has also been promulgated in the constitution. It rejects any kind of discrimination in education on any ground. Elsewhere, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) or Global Goals by the United Nations exhort quality education by setting it as a unique goal which is known as SDG-4. This goal ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The government is currently fostering education for all by taking initiatives such as making primary education compulsory. But schooling across the country does not maintain the same quality. Bangladesh is a low income country with a large amount of people live below the poverty line. There must have two types of students- from poor and from affluent background. Poor families do not afford quality education as most of the renowned schools are private. They even cannot hire private tutors to teach their kids at home. On the other hand, kids from high or upper middle income family are often facilitated by private tutors. Expenditure in education sector is increasing day by day as government has failed to rein in it. It causes an extensive burden on the people who belong to the middle and lower income outfit. Thus, a gap is created in the society.
For Example, a report by Dhaka Tribune shows that rural schools in Chittagong continue to lag far behind their urban counterparts in terms of performance. The report observes that most of the successful schools and students under the Chittagong board are from urban areas, while most of the poor performers are in rural areas. In total, 92% of students passed in Chittagong city while 84% passed in the district overall, while no rural school could secure a place among the 13 best institutions. The acute shortage of skilled teaching faculty, laboratories, libraries and other crying needs in rural institutions are to blame for the plummeting standard of education in the country. Students in urban areas are blessed with better financial support compared to their rural counterparts.
Though citizens have constitutional right to have equal quality education, our existing education system has failed to maintain this. In comparison with the past experiences, now there are many educational institutions in Bangladesh. However, this number is not sufficient in comparison with the number of kids expected to be enrolled every year. Besides, there is a huge gap among the quality of the students. For example, if you look at one of the government primary schools in Dhaka city and, concurrently, at any other semi governmental or private school, you will observe a huge hiatus between the quality of the students and their results.
The Dhaka Tribune report quotes Prof Mohammad Mahbub Hasan, controller of examinations of the Chittagong board, who told that the rural-urban gap in performance has “widened sharply” in the recent years. He said, “The rural schools have not done well compared to the previous year. Rural students lag behind their urban counterparts as they lack efficient, trained and experienced teachers”.
Poor schooling is mainly responsible for broadening this gap. For example, teachers from the government primary schools are less visionary and more reluctant to the quality and the results of their students. Consequently, lack of visionary teachers and their inefficient teaching methods devalue the future of our country. Proper teaching can bridge this gap in between as teachers as leaders in education sector motivate and drive their students towards their posterior achievement. On other hand, Low-paid below standard lower level educational institutions have failed to attract highly educated, qualified and meritorious students to join the teaching profession in this level.
In practice, motivation should be the key factor to educate the students. It is important to make the students dream their future from the very beginning of their education. Making learning motivational and interesting can keep the students energetic and can make them creative in nature. Teachers should teach their students like they are telling stories to them. Visualization through PowerPoint presentation, showing clips of movies, videos and the like need to be used to make the students better understand the situation. Accordingly students will share their ideas and participate in class room practices.
Combating inequality is a crucial thing. Any societal odds can be handled through effective means towards some positive results. Creating a helping environment can encourage anyone, who feels marginalized, to make his/her way to success. As Bangladesh is a developing country and our focus mostly on inclusive education, viable initiatives need to be initiated in this crucial field. Constitutional provisions of ensuring equal opportunities for all citizens irrespective of their socio-economic condition should immediately be effective in the society.
Currently, beside the governmental initiatives, there are some empathetic efforts being made by some non-profit voluntary organizations, NGOs and the like to promote equitable quality education by proper teaching and building educational leaderships in wider arena in a very professional way. But these are poor in number and not satisfactory at all in conformity with our gigantic national demands.
Government needs to steer the movement of ensuring equitable quality education by implementing policies effectively. Performance of teachers and educational institutions should be subject to close monitoring. Departments, which are responsible for ensuring this, should take vigorous initiatives to train the teachers on proper teaching with achieving modernity in its approaches.
Ikhtiarul Arefeen is a Fellow at Tech for Bangladesh.