The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has made 39 specific recommendations to prevent corruption in the education sector.
These include clear directives on issues like question paper leak, note or guide books, coaching business, building the infrastructure of educational institutions, inclusion under MPO, appointment and transfer, sources of various types of corruption and ways to prevent them.
The recommendations were made in an investigative report by the education-related institutional team, formed to tackle corruption. The report was forwarded to the Cabinet secretary on Wednesday after being signed by ACC Secretary Md Shamsul Arefin.
ACC Director Mir Md Zainul Abedin headed the team. Assistant Director Md Hafizur Rahman was the other member of the team.
Question paper leak
The ACC has made eight recommendations to prevent the leak of question papers used in public examinations. In its observation, the ACC team noted that the next generation was being engulfed by darkness through the leak of public examination question papers.
It is through the public examinations that the juveniles are first introduced to state mechanism. Question paper leak introduced them corruption.
The education board, Bangladesh Government Press, treasury and exam centres have been identified as sources of leaked questions. Coaching centres, corrupt teachers and various criminal gangs could be involved with a section of corrupt officials of these institutions.
To prevent the practice, the ACC has recommended -- appointing meritorious and honest teachers on question paper preparation committees; appointing an English translator to the committee; taking bond from everyone involved from preparing question papers to distribution, mentioning that their children or family members would not take part in the concerned examination; keeping all officials involved with question paper preparation under strict surveillance; sending question papers in double lock boxes; sending question papers to examination centres through executive magistrates and education officers; opening the papers in presence of the deputy commissioner and Upazila administration officials.
Apart from them, the ACC also recommended reducing the number of examination centres. Those involved with question paper leak can be sued under Public Examinations (Offences) Act, Money Laundering Prevention Act, and ICT Act.
Also, all tasks related to education can be brought under online services.
Coaching and note-guide business
In this section, the sources of corruption have been attributed to issues such as not taking classes properly; the strong desire of textbook, coaching owners and a number of teachers to get rich within a short time; lack of monitoring of the educational system, lack of awareness of parents, among others.
The recommendations include forming education monitoring committees at the metropolitan, district and upazila levels to ensure that students are taught properly in classes, ensuring transfer of high school teachers following the guideline, and preventing teachers from taking classes outside their own subjects.
Apart from them, the corruption watchdog also recommended excluding multiple choice questions altogether and replacing them with descriptive, creative and analytical questions.
The ACC also recommended taking departmental actions against teachers who take coaching classes ignoring the government guideline, shutting down all coaching centres, conducting raids on notebook and guidebook publication houses from the first week of December, and arranging regular monthly meetings of teachers, parents and school management committees.
Educational institutions under MPO
The ACC has recommended five measures to stop various corruption in regularized educational institutions such as appointments ignoring rules and charging students exorbitant amounts.
These are -- measures to fill up vacant posts can be taken each year through the Non-Government Teachers' Registration and Certification Authority (INTRCA) at the order of the ministry by following all the rules and regulations; forming a separate commission modelled on the PSC to appoint teachers; taking stern measures against those who enter services with fake certificates and being more careful when appointing them and following the ministry’s rules when promoting or transferring officials.
Apart from them, the ACC also recommended following the rules properly when establishing new schools, colleges or madrasas, informing teachers dates and times immediately after they apply for pension and not to break the serial under any circumstance.
National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB)
New books are handed over to students on the first day of every year. Corruption takes places in several stages of this work.
Some of the sources of the corruption, as identified by the ACC, include the tender process for textbook printing, forming various committees, supplying book manuscripts illegally to a number of publishers, curtailing information for facilitating illegal coaching business, participating in tender processes using own or fake names.
Five recommendations have been made to ensure transparency and accountability. They are -- following e-tendering system in all NCTB tenders; appointing meritorious and talented people in the writer, education development and technical committees; formulating specific guidelines for preparing curriculum and manuscripts.
It also recommends ensuring that the manuscripts do not find their way into the hands of note and guide book publishers from the NCTB press and to add sample questions with solutions in all textbooks as the information has been severely compressed in the textbooks.
Education Engineering Department
The ACC has made eight recommendations to including curbing excessive cost and ensuring transparency in the tender process.
In these, the ACC recommended completing tender processes through e-tendering; forming “Nagorik committees” with local teachers and representatives of civil society to monitor construction work; making list of officials involved in tender works and taking departmental actions and filing cases against them.
It also recommended implementing monitoring tools from the ministry in construction works and if necessary, taking assistance from ACC; issuing circulars to make collecting certificates from heads of institutions compulsory for collecting bills of repair or overhauling works; making Education Engineering Department’s internal monitoring such as inspection, auditing and reporting effective.
The ACC observation says that despite having huge successes, the ministry’s image is being questioned due to rampant question paper leaks, expansion of coaching centres and wide circulation of note-guides, negative discussions on the various projects.
In this case, the ACC has made six recommendations in light of the National Integrity Strategy.
These include completing settlement of tasks within specific time following the 2014 guideline of the secretariat; properly doing document settling; identifying and taking action against those who stop documents to carve path for corruption;
The responsibility for transfer and promotion of posts other than the head of the organization or from grade 3 to grade 1 can be given to concerned directorate or departmental office as part of decentralization of power.
In this case, these activities can be monitored in the light of ministry’s transfer and posting policy.
Taking measures to stop the illegal use of vehicles of various projects.
Steps are needed to tackle various allegations of irregularities in spending money in the pretext of buying vehicles for various projects run by the ministry, use of vehicles, unnecessary foreign tours and training.
These also include shutting down all admission and educational activities of a private university if it fails to fulfil conditions of the certificates as mentioned in the Private University Act 2010.
The ACC has requested concerned authorities to take proper steps to combat corruption in the education sector.
ACC Secretary Arefin said they did not want to see education as a business in any way.
“The commission has worked on education in the last six months. These recommendations have been made on various matters including total administrative overhaul,” he said.
Replying to a question, he said: “We have forwarded our recommendations to the ministry. They will take steps accordingly. If they do not, then the commission will take a decision on the matter later.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune