Mohammad Nurul Huda

Education trade and students’ fate

June 28, 2012

tuitionFor 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.

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Mohammad Nurul Huda is a poet, writer and translator.

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6 Responses to “ Education trade and students’ fate ”

  1. Ali on July 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    With so FEW readers and fewer comments on prevailing educational practices in BD, especially coaching, it can be loosely concluded that general people, even educated ones are very little concerned and may have just given up on any hopes to get things changed for the better, saner.
    Thank you, Mr. Nurul Huda for your article. But as always, establishments are quick to turn a blind eye to; as any ‘up-gradation’ of education does not pay!
    After all while one can make sack loads of money, why should one break heads on something called education. Why? The root of the matter of coaching is somewhere else; not coaching per se.
    The Education Ministry is to ensure that only the competent and passionate are recruited as teachers, who are willing to sincerely take up teaching as their career, and a decent compensation is guaranteed for relatively decent living. Quality may be ensured and gradually coaching closes down.

  2. sarwar Kamal on July 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    It’s imperative to stop coaching business and education trade, to ensure a distributive quality education to the students who have and have not. For years it has become a social menace and academic nuisance, representing a misleading concept of pedagogy as well as inciting an orgy of Grade/ certificate proliferation. It has immensely contributed to grade inflation, that we tend to believe as success, contrarily it helped decrease it’s quality. Now, the guidelines as promulgated by the concerned ministry have ethical and administrative ramifications.
    From moral perspective, as you said, ministry couldn’t stop illegal and additional money received by the institutions where political and influential persons are engaged in management. Law cannot be sympathetic to influential and harsh to weak. Moreover, coaching is not a rot in itself; it has underlying causes and specific conditions to develop. In rural areas, most of the teachers being recruited by school management committee under political consideration, hardly adept in teaching their respective subjects. Qualified teachers don’t want to serve in rural area, ignoring better scope, amenities, potentials and career in town.
    In urban areas, those who get posting thanks to “posting and transfer business”, never heard of the texts they are supposed to teach and give lecture on. Its not conclusively true that meritorious are not coming in education sector, still huge of altruistic and dedicated teachers are available. They are deposed from where they deserve and disposed to the institutions where the subjects are not even taught.
    Every successive government likes to change syllabus, curriculum and methodology imposing exotic systems without providing proper training to old-fashioned teachers. So, a technical and ideological lag is manifested between teachers and basic components of curriculum. In this backdrop, teachers without developing new skill and knowledge fail to teach properly.
    The texts in science group are mostly written in highly complex illustration and interpretation proved to be rarely impressive to the students and teachers alike. So, a culture of cramming, coaching and close suggestions has got currency in this age. Without eliminating underlying causes and taking proper steps in this line, merely a guideline is not viable to prevent coaching business.
    From administrative perspective, head of the institutions can initiate supplementary class, monitor therein. But implementing committee headed by TNO/ADC, where Principals/ Head teachers are members, necessarily will create an embarrassing situation, leaving huge scope for bureaucrats of showing their receding megalomania. Interestingly, few junior and midlevel bureaucrats are also engaged in coaching business as guest teachers in different coaching centers. So, we can humbly ask, can a monkey distribute bread among rats?
    However, I want a stop to coaching business and elimination of causes behind that.

  3. Syed Imtiaz Ali on June 29, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Very timely and well-intentioned article. Thanks.
    But do we ever ask what the head teacher/principal do to maintain and ensure the quality of education delivered? Any quality control or check ever been made?
    Most of our schools have teachers who perhaps could not get a suitable job elsewhere and in turn took up a school teacher’s job! True but in many cases a shocking reality. Have we been able to attract good talent into teaching?
    What constitutes a good teacher? If I remember well, our teachers were:
    Very Passionate and Caring
    Very eager to share knowledge
    Ready to answer questions, and would encourage us to ask
    Would talk about keeping ourselves healthy
    Encourage us to join sports and games
    Above all, ignite fire we have had within!
    Made learning enjoyable and competitive
    They had motivated us into being more inquisitive
    Always inspired us students to read more and varied books
    Shared with us some good stories from his personal experience
    He/she also befriended us!
    But had never found an excuse to ask us to take tuition from him
    We had never thought of taking private tuition to ‘understand’ lessons better and score higher marks.
    Teachers not only had dignity, they also had grace and personality
    We had respected them, loved them, held them in high esteem and also were scared of them sometimes.
    How was all these possible?
    They could live within the means and yet be happy with the knowledge that there are hundreds of his/her students who are now in high points of their career. That was their pride and reward.
    But now, the salary has very little changed, inflation ate up all purchasing power, and over all cost of living has SHOT UP many fold!
    Talent therefore is not attracted by this profession; respect no more is present. Teachers are killed when they resist wrong-doing by students!

    We all know of the above, but as I became very emotional I thought of putting them down here.
    Today teachers need dignity. More fund allocation must be there for education. More Sincere, Qualified, Passionate people must be attracted to teaching to really see any positive change in education. Yes, and in tandem their Compensation must be revised according to market index.
    Only then scenario can change. Then there will be no or negligible need for private tuition offering. Teachers must be guided, quality checked and ensured by the Principal in lesson plans and delivery. There has to be surprise visits made by senior ministry officials to make spot checks on quality of classes/sessions. School board must decide also to minimize the need for extra tuition. Students also have families, games, social life and other things in a growing life to take care of.
    Instead of an all-out ‘banning’ let us look at the reason first, why it happens. The head teachers and low salary of general teachers are wholly and solely responsible. Even education is today a commodity that is traded for the highest bidders. There is NO quality control; NO Fee control, NO policy on ‘modernisation’ of education in place.
    I hope your article becomes food for thought in this case.

    • mohammad nurul huda on July 1, 2012 at 1:34 am

      Thank you very much for your well-thought out remarks.
      I do endorse all your complementary comments intended to bring discipline in our nearly chaotic education sector. Teachers must be well educated, well trained, well paid, as well as highly dignified in their behaviour. But for interlinking of affirmative roles by heads of educational institutions, teachers, guardians and education administrators of all levels an encouraging result is a far cry. If education is the backbone of a nation, teachers are the backbone of education itself. They should be given all supports for a decent and dignified living in order to keep themselves aloof from pollution of any kind.

  4. Kalam Ahmed on June 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

    ‘Coaching’ centers and coaching are a business and the teachers are reacting like a business community on the matter of guidelines, not as teachers. All businesses want maximum aid from the government (making it easy to get huge lines of credit, for example) and no regulations or rules that will limit or restrict the scope of their activities. So the government will have to devise a practical way of bringing these centers in conformity with its guidelines. Maybe fine or even jail a few for bad practices – that always seems to work in Bangladesh.

    • mohammad nurul huda on July 1, 2012 at 1:43 am

      Thank you for suggestion of enforcing the guidelines in a beneficial manner. If bad practices are punished, good practices should be rewarded in return.

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