year's SSC results have come as a pleasant surprise to most.
One reason certainly has been the refreshing break from the
past records. The ever-deteriorating percentage rate in the
last 5 or 6 years which sank to 26% last year takes a flip
this year. So, many felt relieved as they saw this year's
reasonably healthy pass rate of almost 50%, the best in the
last 30 years. The feel-good factor has been, to a great extent,
created and fanned by the government, which promptly been
interpreted as a great achievement. Percentage-wise the SSC
results are certainly an achievement.
the last couple of years cheating in the public examinations
became the focus of the concerned authorities as well as the
media. The education ministry seems to have oriented its efforts
solely around this issue. In his desperate attempt to make
an impression to change the country's deplorable standard
of education, Ehsanul Haque Milon, the state minister of education,
declared a jihad of sorts against cheating during examinations.
He was somehow convinced that the main obstacles or rather
the principal reason for today's declining education standard
is cheating. His mission of eradicating cheating resulted
in some improvement in the last examinations, the number of
expelled cases is a proof of this. The 50 percent pass rate
is being claimed as a direct consequence of stringent anti-cheating
measures. Though this claim seems convincing, and no doubt,
there is some truth in it, somehow it veils the true scenario
of the education sector. To claim the healthy percentage as
a great uplift and a step towards recovering from the poor
state of education, is in no way true.
put it as clearly as possible: Cheating in the examinations
is not the main problem as far as the quality of education
is concerned. The eradication of this malady is not going
to cure our diseased education system, as the government would
have us believe. Cheating is not the cause but only one of
the many effects or manifestations of the real problems that
have been plaguing our entire education system for years.
The absence of a prudent national education policy has turned
our education into a discordant admixture of various unrelated
and often irrelevant sub-systems. Whereas we should have a
uniform education system in the primary and secondary levels,
there exist three almost altogether different streams as that
of Bangla medium, English medium and madrasa-based education
system. Consequently, the system has been producing three
different generations with entirely different sets of value,
culture and tradition.
who are directly associated with SSC level education have
hailed this year’s results. Pass rate is certainly one
yardstick for judging the state of education," believes
Rowena, Principal of Viqurunnesa Noon School and College.
If you compare this year's percentage with that of the past
years’ you will have to say this is an improvement.
She then quickly refers to the total number of SSC candidates,
which she says about a lakh less than that of last year's.
The government circular asking school authorities to screen
the weaker candidates through test exams and not to allow
them to sit for the final has brought down the number of failed
students and has also positively affected the results.
Then, of course, the much- hyped anti-cheating
campaign led by the State Minister, has also contributed to
this healthy pass rate to a certain extent. Abul Hashanat
Faruk, Headmaster of Government Laboratory School, which bagged
148 Grade Point Average-5 and figured among the five top schools
in terms of highest GPA score-makers, thanks to the government
effort for curbing cheating that helped improve the situation.
The State Minister’s inspection spree in examination
centres across the country in the last two years has certainly
helped screen the students with the habit of cheating and
made this year's dramatic increase in pass rate possible.
however emphasised that if such encouraging pass rates are
to be maintained or even a higher rate is to be achieved the
government will have to make sure that the stringent measures
it has initiated do not slacken. But, amidst the hype and
celebration one should not lose sight of the complete picture.
The number of schools with 100 percent failure still stands
at 537. It has come down from 1400 to 537 this year, it certainly
is an improvement. Yet, when we take the whole system into
account, the number of schools from where not a single candidate
made it to the list of the much hyped 50 percent, still stands
before us like a rampart. "The government should not
only cancel MPOs (monthly pay orders) to those schools, but
also warn those which have less than 5% or 10% pass rates,"
Faruk suggests. Rowena advocates for regular inspection into
both government and private schools to ensure that the teachers
are attending classes regularly, following the lesson plan.
And she thinks that the management activities need to be monitored
as well. "We have even come to know of schools which
have no students at all. And, during inspection the school
authority hires students from the neighbouring schools to
show off. A certain quarter of goverment education officials
is associated with this corrupt practice," she adds.
both of them referred to this year's comparatively higher
percentage in SSC a good sign, there is no reason to think
our overall education system has started to recover or is
even back on the right track. "Stopping cheating in the
examinations is necessary, but there has to be simultaneous
efforts on the part of the government to take on many other
pertinent steps to refurbish the entire education system to
attain a consistent improvement," Faruk believes.
Both of them identify the lack of well-trained,
competent teachers as one of the main troubles that are holding
our education system in stagnation. Especially the need of
capable English teachers, particularly in schools outside
the cities, is acute. The quality of teaching has suffered
for so long, that the sudden increase in the percentage of
successful students, in the end, does not amount to much.
The problem of having competent teaching bodies is all-pervading,
it is not limited to the subject of English only. The system
of Bangla medium lacks teachers who have specialised in a
particular subject, as the recruits mostly consist of general
graduates. The teachers are made to teach multiple subjects,
a practice that affects the overall quality of education.
As the failure rate is highest in English,
the government should immediately take up steps to train up
the existing and new English teachers. As for the other subjects
like maths and science, there should also be measures to improve
the quality of the teaching staff.
Many other basic pertinent problems like the
absence of healthy infrastructure, faulty, corrupt teachers
recruitment method would have to be addressed; widespread
corruption in both school management as well as on the government
education officials level are issues that need to be tackled
with firmness. Besides, while making policy decision regarding
primary and secondary education the government should involve
the classroom teachers. The different committees the government
form for such purposes are usually constituted with scholars,
and college and university teachers who do not have any practical
experience of classroom situation. The relevent teachers should
be a part of the process while designing the syllabus, methodology
and teaching materials along with academicians to make them
realistic and effective," Faruk points out. He also believes
that the headmasters should be in the teachers' recruitment
panels, as they should be knowing well the kind of problems
teachers face in the classrooms.
problems aside, some basic questions concerning our education
system have to be given attention. Even after 33 years since
our independence we have been going by the education system
worked out and imposed on us during two consecutive rules
of the British and then the Pakistani occupiers. There are
different streams at the primary level -- there are some 11
types of primary schools in the country. "The difference
among the Kindergarten, government, non-governemnt and madrasa-based
educational institutions on the primary level only widens
at the secondary level. And this has turned our education
sector into a seemingly irredeemable chaos," points out
Akmal Hossain, a professor in Dhaka University (DU).
"While speaking in the seminars everyone
advocates a uniform primary education system, but when it
comes to working out an educational policy we suddenly want
to keep the existing discriminatory education system going",
points out Hossain referring to the most recent education
policy headed by ex-DU Vice Chancellor Moniruzzaman Mian.
Though there have been some changes in the syllabi, especially
in the secondary level text books, they are mostly hurriedly
done and ill-planned, thus, fail to bring about the intended
positive changes. "How could you suddenly switch over
from grammar and translation-based language learning to communicative
method when you are working with the same English teachers
who are neither familiar with the method nor have received
any training to put it into practice," Hossain argues.
Besides, we have this tendency of toying with the class-9
and class-10 text books while forgetting that we are dealing
with the same students who have come through a different way
of learning during their first eight years of schooling.
and secondary level studies are still largely based on rote
learning and students in this system gradually become dependent
on private tutors. "The greatest weakness of the system
is that most of the so-called good students achieve good results
if they can memorise a bundle of things. So, in the end, it
all boils down to one thing, which is to taking recourse to
private tutoring. "Good results are the fruit of the
parents' financial ability to back their children with a regular
contingent of private tutors," Hossain asserts. The system
does not encourage anything other than rote learning, it hardly
takes into account the growth of the intellectual faculty,
let alone creativity. Rather it tends to limit the intellectual
faculty. "Where would one get the stimulation or inspiration
to exercise creativity when one can do very good following
a very streamlined method hinged upon lists of suggestions
for exams and guide books?" he asks.
Quality education has become an exclusive
property of the city-dweller, says Hossain. "If someone
living in a village achieves good result, which happens very
rarely, all of us get surprised, because we have long stopped
expecting a student living in a village or even in a provincial
town to figure among top ranking students. Our first priority
should be a uniformed, singular, primary education system,
which would be all-inclusive, irrespective of the students'
financial capability or the place they live in," Hossain
Rejoicing over this year's 50% pass rate will
not take us anywhere if we fail to bring in qualitative improvement
of our unhealthy, poor, and almost dysfunctional education
(R) thedailystar.net 2004