For years students have been plagued by the coaching trade in the urban and rural areas of Bangladesh. Now the Court has asked the Education Ministry to explain why measures should not be taken to stop the coaching trade conducted by the teachers themselves in most of the educational institutions of the country.
The Ministry of Education has promulgated a ‘Coaching Guideline’ aimed at regularising the coaching business and the Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid finalized the draft guideline with exemplary speed.
The guideline has generated mixed reactions. Most of the guardians are very delighted but majority of the teachers have expressed their concern.
What about the implementation of the guideline announced now? The coaching traders have made careful comments on this. They have opined that they did not get in their hand the guideline formally sent from the Ministry of Education. So they are having a wait-and-see policy. They will go for necessary action as soon as they will receive it formally, but no action of any kind prior to that. It clearly indicates that they don’t want to shut their shops right now.
What the Education Secretary commented in this regard is quite significant. He said, ‘The guideline had come into force since the very day it was promulgated. Sending it to educational institutions is nothing but a mere formality.’
The speed and dynamics put together for drafting, finalizing, promulgating and implementing this guideline tell that the entire think-tank and workforce of the Ministry showed their utmost sincerity and responsibility towards this end, which is a rare occurrence in an LDC like ours.
But we are among those who are dubious in nature, since in the not-so-distant past the same very Ministry did not prove its worth in implementing similar decisions. The first page of a leading Bangla daily of the country printed the headline bearing the message that the instruction of the Education Ministry for returning the illegal money cashed from the guardians during the admission of their wards was not carried out in time and the Ministry has not taken further initiative to implement its order as of today. As a result, all the big and prominent school authorities have refrained from giving back the money to the concerned guardians in the last five months or so.
It is alleged that they gathered courage to do so since they have many powerful persons of the society in their governing body. Needless to say, apart from so-called influential and powerful members of civil society, most of these governing bodies are headed by either a Minister or a Member of Parliament. The entire situation is rather an intricate and complicated one, with no satisfactory excuse whatsoever. The guardians have opined that such decisions are taken merely for attracting appreciations from the general folk who don’t tend to go deep into the matter. But we believe that since this order had reached the educational institutions much earlier, there is no reason for delaying its implementation. Those who will not comply with this order, must be punished without any excuse. But for such stern actions, all the comments will be reduced to mere grandiloquence, often shouted at the top of voice by the Ministers and politicians.
We have no doubt about the sincerity of the present Education Minister or Secretary. Some of their cumulative works have attracted huge public support and due recognition from home and abroad. Honourable Education Minister Mr. Nurul Islam Nahid has very recently been decorated with a coveted international award; whereas the Education Secretary now in office is a respected poet, a winner of Bangla Academy literary prize this year. They have also gained laudable success in producing, publishing and distributing text books among school children during their tenure. We look for a radical change in our conventional system of education under their dynamic and charismatic leadership.
All said and done, it cannot be claimed beyond doubt that something is not rotten in the land of Denmark. The reckless and indiscriminate trade of tender hunting, appointment and transfer of teachers and employees in the Ministry and directorates, departments and sections is known to one and all including its beneficiaries and sufferers. There are rumours of separate syndicates for each of them with direct and indirect association of the lowest employees and highest workforce in benefit sharing from the same. We don’t like to pay heed to all these rumours, although the victims are well aware of what has happened to them and how.
Most of the victims take it for an accepted custom out of fear for further harassment if they raise their voice in protest. Shall our optimist and good mannered politicians and officials go for changing the situation by drafting and implementing the appropriate guideline required for the purpose? If they succeed in doing so and reverse the current of ongoing corruption of worst kind in their dear mother country, the nation will remain forever grateful to their good souls.
Let us come back to the context of our coaching guideline. Despite the explanation given by the Secretary himself, no practical step has so far been taken by the Ministry or any other appropriate quarter to implement it. In our opinion, there should be a maximum time frame for implementing the guideline and the deadline should not exceed a period of four weeks at the best.
Last but not least, the role of the guardian community is most significant in implementing this guideline. The first thing they need to do is not to send any of their children to a coaching centre of any kind. It may be mentioned here that this guideline has not totally undermined the necessity of coaching for the students, rather it has systematized the process by allowing the teachers for giving extra classes to the students at a prefixed rate of honorarium and these classes are supposed to be held after their scheduled classes as per routine. It is expected that a student and a teacher will complete their study within their academic campus.
They are also expected to do some more works beyond their academic outfit. The nature, the earth, the society and others lying under the sky resembling an unprinted book have been offering before us unlimited opportunities of pleasure reading. In view of this universal contact with the world beyond their walled campus, the full-time coaching during almost all the hours they wake up, is rather redundant, and not agreeable. If we make our humble attempt to educate our younger generation in a receptive manner along with aiding them to get equipped with interpretative and creative way of learning, we need to implement this guideline from a to z as a first step of our pragmatic process. But for resisting the corrupt and dishonest traders of learning, mere advice and comments from the Ministers and Secretaries or powerful persons will not be enough to resist the assault of the profit hunters. The Ministry has ordered the close of coaching centres and promulgated the circular required for it. Now it is the first and foremost duty of every conscious guardian to refrain from sending their boys and girls to any coaching outfit.
Let us turn away from the menacing culture of finding faults with others; on the contrary, let us trigger the constructive culture of discharging the duty assigned to us by our own conscience. Let us give our sons and daughters the lesson of balanced learning and self education enabling them to become true architects of their future.
Mohammad Nurul Huda is a poet, writer and translator.