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     Volume 7 Issue 2 | January 11, 2008 |

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The Need for
Trained Teachers

Elita Karim

More emphasis should be given to improving the present system of education rather than changing it.

Few will contest the fact that the standard of our primary education is not up to international standards, thereby leaving many students with a very faulty foundation in subjects that are otherwise internationally known as core subjects. Because of this many students may find that their education is not up to par when compared to their contemporaries around the world. Those who are lucky enough to go abroad for higher education and research usually decide to stay on in the foreign countries instead of coming back to Bangladesh to work. The 'Brain Drain' over the last few decades has taken a heavy toll on the development of the country in terms of depriving it of much--needed experts in various fields.

One of the biggest bottlenecks in the education sector is undoubtedly a dearth of trained teachers, which impairs any education system from the very start. In relation to the growing concern of the educational standards of Bangladesh, the recent NRB (Non-Resident Bangladeshis) conference held at Hotel Sheraton included a seminar discussing how NRBs can contribute to the improvement of the country's educational standards.

According to the speakers at the seminar, the global education curriculum changes on a regular basis to follow new innovations, ideas and thoughts, but Bangladesh still lags behind due to not having sustainable educational 'vision.' The panel, consisting of professors and researchers in the various fields of education, stressed that training teachers is extremely important.

Our society does not realise that young students sometimes go through psychological and physical changes that need help dealing with.

For one thing, teachers should use the concept of third party training, which involves teachers being trained and evaluated accordingly by experts from outside the institutions. In addition, in order to keep up with the changes in the field of technology, it is imperative that teachers learn how to access the outside world through the Internet while sitting in their classroom. Although the level of computer literacy has increased a great deal, teachers, especially in the rural areas, remain ignorant. "Computer literacy is an integral part of education today," said Zeenat Nabi, one of the NRB speakers. Especially in the underprivileged sections of the society, she adds, extra efforts should be made to educate both teachers and students with basic computer skills.

Computer Literacy Programme (CLP), an organisation based in New Jersey is playing a very significant role in providing computer education to the people living in the rural areas. According to Nabi, at least 8,000 students have already taken the computer literacy education training from the CLP-D.Net project.

Working with the Society to Help Education in Bangladesh International (Shebi), in New Jersey, Nabi presented two case studies at the conference, through which she discussed ways in which NRBs can contribute to the field of education in Bangladesh. She along with her colleagues at Shebi, are working towards reducing the ever-widening gap between the poor and the rich and their respective opportunities and rights to a cognitive education.

Primary education might be up to the mark in the rural areas in Bangladesh; however, the level of education rendered in the high schools, in these areas, are not good enough to meet the general standards, said Nabi. “Not only the students, but the teachers need to be graded on a regular basis as well,” she said. “Regular training programmes should be built for new teachers, as well as the old teachers so as to update them with the new technology, thus keeping training consistent.”

According to 21-year-old Syed Meraj Jamil, a second year National University student of Management, students need someone to talk to, be it about their career goals or simply about the personal dilemmas that young people go through. Jamil feels that trained school counsellors should be present at the primary, secondary and college / university levels as this will help the students out a great deal. “Firstly, most of us have no idea what we will study when we go to university,” he says. “Some students might have the inherent qualities to excel in humanities or commerce. However, because of the age old tradition of good students picking science as a discipline at a very early age, it is too late when we finally realise that maybe this is not the right subject for us, especially when it is time to get into university. School counsellors can help students figure out what they are good at and which subject to study later on.” Something else that our society does not realise or recognise is that there are various psychological and the physical changes that young students go through which they need help dealing with. Trained experts and school counsellors can also help by talking to these students, which might decrease the pressure that teenagers feel.

“It is very important that students know what they are getting into after high school,” said Dr. Subarna Khan, development scientist in ImClone Systems, Inc and participant of the NRB conference. “For instance, if a student wishes to study Biotechnology, he or she needs to know what it is about, what kind of research can be done in this field and how it can be useful to the society. The student should also get hands-on training so as to excel in the particular subject. This kind of career counselling should be available in all the high schools for all kinds of subjects.”

Khan further added that the government should come forward to support the NRBs so that they can transfer their skills, in which case the concept of 'Virtual Education' can also be considered. Through the Internet, videoconferencing and other multimedia resources, a proper learning environment can be built even though the teacher and the students are separated by time and space.

The most obvious solution would be to change the system of education in Bangladesh, which would be extremely time-consuming. “Instead of changing the system, what we have to think about is improving the current system of education,” said the secretary of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan at the seminar. “Our aim is to gain access to quality education, so we have to concentrate on filtering out the insignificant elements from the present education system. Our first step should be to establish the already available resources that we have after which we should introduce new ideas and concepts to make the system better.”

There is no alternative to training the teachers, he said. “However, if teachers do not possess the basic knowledge of teaching languages, math, science or other subjects, then training them would not be conducive in any way. Therefore, various levels of training sessions, starting from the very basic level, need to be established for teachers. Like all other sectors corruption is also one of the major barriers to educational development in the country, he remarked.

In a country where the education system is still in a state of confusion with at least three different mediums of instruction, it's probably time for us to go back to the basics and start over. It is important to remember that these students are the future of our country and the education that they are getting is more relevant than we think. It wouldn't hurt for us to go back to our kindergarten days and rediscover the enthusiasm and the thirst for learning that we seem to have lost now. Not only would that be an extremely refreshing exercise for our teachers, it would also help them to strengthen their qualities and create a better connection with their students.


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