Mahfuja Mukul: A lot of progress has been made in education in the 50 years since independence. Literacy rate has increased, school enrollment of 100% students across the country has been ensured. The number of schools-colleges, madrasas-technical and public-private universities has increased. At present, around four crore students are studying across the country. Changes are being made in the public examination system and curriculum to coordinate with the world. Piloting has started this year. It will be implemented in class I, VI and VII from next year.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Education Information and Statistics (BANBEIS), there were 7,791 secondary schools in the country in 1972. There were about 1.85 lakh students in these. Now there are 20 thousand 849 secondary schools in the country. There are more than one crore students. In 1972 there were 526 colleges in the country. And now there are 4 thousand 699. Now about 46 lakh students are studying at the college level. There are 9 thousand 305 Aliyah and Dakhil Madrasahs across the country. There are more than 2.5 million students in these madrasas.
Meanwhile, close to 100% of eligible students are now enrolling in schools. The primary dropout rate has come down to around 18 percent. Even in 2005, the primary dropout rate was 47 percent. The dropout rate in secondary school has also come down significantly.
On the other hand, there are more than 133,000 public and private primary schools and kindergarten-NGO-run primary schools. Among them there are more than 65 thousand government primary schools. In 2013, the Awami League government has governmentized more than 26 thousand primary schools. After the government of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, no other government has governmentized so many primary schools at once.
More than two crore students are now studying at the primary level in the country. 51 percent of them are female students. The rate is even higher in government schools. In terms of admission, the rate of secondary school girls is even higher (about 55 percent). In terms of numbers, equality has been achieved in the college as well. However, the number of female students in the university is still lagging behind. Although female students are ahead in medical education.
According to the data, there were only six universities in the country after independence. And now the total number of public and private universities in the country is 158. However, except for a handful of private universities, there are various complaints against most of them.
According to University Grants Commission (UCG) report, students are not getting quality education in most of the private universities. There is no research program. In 2020, 27 out of 108 private universities in the country did not spend any money on research. Conflicts in the board of trustees, financial irregularities, infrastructural crisis, reluctance to move to permanent campuses have various complaints against these universities.
As a result, despite the increase in the number of educational institutions and students, the country has not yet reached the desired goal in achieving the quality of education.
When asked to know, educationist Professor Ekramul Kabir told that even though the literacy rate or the number of universities has increased, the quality of education has not increased. For this, the initiatives taken by the government are not being implemented properly.
In the 50 years of independence, the achievements and improvement of education are visible in numerical terms, starting from the educational institutions, admission rate, pass rate, dropout prevention, equality of students, stipend, free books at the beginning of the year. But the quality of education has not increased that way.
Meanwhile, due to the closure of educational institutions for almost one and a half years due to the shock of Corona, the education of four crore students of the country has suffered greatly. At present, no official initiative has been taken to overcome that loss. Rasheda K Chowdhury, Executive Director of Mass Literacy Campaign, told that there has been considerable progress in terms of numbers in education in the country after independence. Now, maintaining this progress, more importance should be given to the quality of education.
The government has also realized the issue and is making various efforts including formulating a new curriculum. But its benefits are not coming. Keeping in mind the fourth industrial revolution, the entire education system should be modernized.
He said, we are disappointed to see the allocation of the education sector in the national budget of the country after Corona. Although the amount of money in the budget has been increased, the total allocation has further decreased. It is important to allocate 20 percent of the national budget to the education sector. The total allocation is also not properly spent. Every year a huge amount of money is returned from the Ministry of Education for not being spent. He feels now is the time to take up mega projects in education.
It is known from the Ministry of Education that in the upazilas which do not have government secondary schools and colleges, one school and college each have been made public. Earlier, there was widespread irregularity in the appointment of teachers in private educational institutions. But as teachers are recruited centrally through examination through the Private Teachers Registration and Certification Authority (NTRCA), those complaints have reduced. Also, online admission process for students, admission is being done through lottery.
However, even though the National Education Policy was formulated in 2010, it has not been implemented even after a century. Rather ignoring the education policy, primary education final examination is being conducted nationally. Not only that, the new national curriculum has said that there will be no public examination till class 10th. However, the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education on the contrary wants to make this (primary education final) examination permanent by the Board of Primary Education. Even though the Education Act was drafted a decade ago, it has not yet been approved.
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