The quota system was first introduced with the goal of including all communities into mainstream education and development. But nowadays, the quota system often blocks meritorious and deserving candidates from getting into public universities or government services.
Experts are saying scrapping the quota system altogether is not the solution; rather, the authorities should reform the system to accommodate the needs of the students and graduates who are being deprived of equal opportunities.
First established by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972, the quota system was disabled in 1975 after Bangabandhu's assassination. For the next 24 years there was no quota system for freedom fighters. In 1996, Shiekh Hasina re-established it.
Sources from the government said under the quota system, 30% seats are reserved for decendents of freedom fighters, 10% zila quota, 10% quota for women and 5% quota for ethnic minorities. If this 55% quota is not filled, 1% goes to the physically challenged.
Such a reform has to be information-based, according to former Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Arefin Siddique. “Completely scrapping the quota system is not advisable. The system was established to tackle inequality. If the system itself is creating inequality now, then it needs to be reformed. We need an information-based review on the matter in order to come to a decision,” he said.
He added that a thorough background check is necessary to identify people abusing the quota system. “Reviews need to be done to identify people using fake freedom fighter certificates. The quota for the disabled and ethnic minority needs to stay because they would not be able to compete otherwise. Same for the quota for women. But the system needs a reform. Some people are taking advantage illegally; the quota system cannot be blamed for that. That is why we need an information-based reform,” the VC added.
Bangladesh General Students Union convener and Dhaka University student Shahedul Anwar Lion said: “The quota reform is absolutely necessary. In the 35th BCS 338 positions were not filled. Many seats during the previous years were not ultimately filled as well. 813 positions during the 28th BCS, 792 positions during the 29th BCS, 784 positions during the 30th BCS and 773 positions during the 31st BCS were not filled. It is not as if there were no meritorious candidates to fill the positions. We are being deprived of opportunities due to the current system."
Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sontan Command General Secretary Sheikh Manjurul Islam said: “We want the quota system to stay, but it needs a reform. Banks often do not follow the quota system. Because of a lack of meritorious candidates, there are about a thousand positions that have not been filled at Agrani bank recently. There is some confusion about how the positions are empty if they can be filled by the quota. On the other hand, the meritorious candidates who are not under the quota system are often deprived of opportunities. The reform needs to be logical and should fulfil everyone’s need.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com