"Selling guidebooks and teaching with guidebooks are both punishable crimes."
Merely making a law will never suffice to stop unauthorised coaching practices by teachers unless proper initiatives are not taken to address the root causes of the mushrooming of coaching centres and the flourishing of guidebook business in the country, experts and educationists opined.
Though the government has been providing free textbooks to primary and secondary-level students to reduce their educational outlays, the initiative seems to be seriously hampered due to the ‘coaching and guidebook business,’ they said.
Before formulating a law and taking necessary actions, the government ought to find out why students and their guardians are increasingly becoming dependent coaching centers and guidebooks, the experts stressed.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Prof Emeritus Sirajul Islam Chowdhury of Dhaka University said: “The key factor behind the growth of coaching business is that teachers at educational institutions are not properly taking care of their students, and there are many reasons for this. Education has become like a ‘product’ nowadays in the country. Teachers are selling the ‘product’ and students and their guardians buying it, because the country is focusing on students’ results more than what they actually learn.
Besides, teachers’ salaries are not commensurate with their efforts, causing many of them to get involved in such an unauthorised practice, the renowned academic said. “Many schools do not even have competent teachers, since teachers are often recruited based on political consideration, nepotism and bribes,” he added.
Putting emphasis on recruiting qualified teachers and imparting necessary skills on them, Prof Sirajul said: “Merely formulating a law to impose a ban on coaching centres and guidebooks will not bring about any change if students cannot learn anything in the classroom.”
On Wednesday, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said: “Teachers will not be allowed to offer private coaching services, nor will guidebooks be acceptable. Selling guidebooks and teaching with guidebooks are both punishable crimes.
“Laws to end such practices are on the cards, and nobody involved in this ‘business’ will be spared,” he warned.
Nahid said students were going to teachers’ homes or coaching centres because they were forced to do so, with teaching in classrooms increasingly becoming unproductive and less interesting.
Terming the formulation of law in this regard a prerequisite, some experts, however, welcomed the move to ban guidebooks and coaching centres.
Noted writer Dr Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said: “We have long been calling on the government to formulate a law so that coaching centre owners and guidebook businessmen can be brought under the law. I welcome the government’s decision as it is the first step towards controlling guidebooks and coaching centres.
A professor at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Zafar Iqbal also said the government should focus on proper application of the law once it was passed.
Educationist Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury said a powerful syndicate was active surrounding the ‘business’, spoiling students’ creativity and enthusiasm for learning and thus putting the country’s education sector on the verge of destruction.
“Teachers at many schools are desperate to earn extra money by forcing students to get services from their coaching centres and buy guidebooks. Even, many of them stick up details of their preferred centres and names of guidebooks on blackboards and threaten students with poor marks in exams if they go beyond their instructions,” she said, adding that if these were not stopped immediately, the education sector would soon suffer a serious blow.