Speaking to Directorate of Inspection and Audit (DIA) officials at an event on Sunday, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid playfully told the inspectors to accept bribes at a reasonable level.
Taken out of context, the minister’s comment about bribery sounds absurd, even offensive.
And yet, a moderate awareness of how things work in this country is enough to know that his comments only reflect the seriousness of a problem that has probably dogged him for the eight years he has spent in office thus far.
The minister understands that bribery is basically standard protocol in school inspection -- that school administrators are ready with an envelope of cash to hand to the inspecting officers.
In his defense, he also urged the inspectors to “do some good work” -- presumably after taking the bribe.
But the ramifications of this pernicious practice are enormous.
It causes a total disconnect between our public schools and education policy, and, as a result, the quality of education suffers immeasurably. We see it evidenced in our public school system, which is so ineffective that students lack the basic skills and level of competence required in the job market.
Without quality education, we cannot create the human capital needed to survive in today’s highly competitive and dynamic global market.
If school administrators can bribe their way out of an evaluation, how are we to hold them accountable for failing to give our students even a minimum standard of education?
This is no laughing matter, and our education minister should know better than that.
Hopefully, now that the incident has gone viral, we can begin discussing this issue in a constructive manner.