While I recognize the Ministry of Education’s incompetence in dealing with the recent spate of question paper leaks, I cannot help but see this as being a cultural deficiency that plagues Bangladesh.
Corruption sprouts out of the fact that there are people who are willing to take advantage of whatever hole they can find in the system, whichever individual they think is susceptible to the influences of monetary (or other) incentives.
Corruption, unfortunately, flies both ways.
The fact that there are students and, more sadly, parents, who are willing to buy their children’s fast track to success, is perhaps a bigger problem.
While I also recognize the fact that, in this dog-eat-dog world that Bangladesh has become, where an excessive amount of people combined with an excessive amount of self-interest have necessitated a certain amount of ruthlessness, does this really need to begin with children at schools?
Consider how depraved a situation this is: Parents and guardians, those who have the rather daunting task of teaching their children about what is “right” and what is not, are actively participating in a practice that basically nullifies our entire education system (the fact that our education system needs work we shall put on the shelf for a different day).
If parents can tell their children that this is OK, what else are we OK with?
Are we OK with our children being corrupt government officials?
Are we OK with them growing up to be hooligans and thugs?
To make a living out of smuggling contraband into the country?
To be police officers who extort money from defenceless teenagers by planting drugs in their backpacks?
If this as a practice, one which not only is morally defunct but also teaches kids that the path to success is dependent on shortcuts, is ingrained in the consumers of education, honestly, I do not see how we can get away with putting the blame (solely) on the Ministry of Education.
Corruption has existed in every facet of Bangladeshi existence. I, again, understand why people give in to corrupt behaviour. It is merely the way Bangladesh functions, it is the society we have created for ourselves.
But to make this acceptable in schools, for 10-year-old children? This seems to be a lower low than one even Bangladesh is used to.
Of course, you may pay Tk1,500 extra so that you can jump the queue at the passport office (because, let’s face it, Bangladeshi bureaucracy does not make it easy), but to teach this to children? Is that something we can honestly live with?
It is ugly, it is unacceptable, and parents and guardians should seriously reconsider what the continuation of such behaviour means for their children
The fact that this is for a GPA in a system that adds little to no value to a child’s education only makes it worse.
Some might argue that this has become necessary, since the difference between a golden GPA 5 versus anything else is too high, but considering how little effect your school grades have on your career, and even the university you go to (presuming you stay in the country), why have we bastardized this into a requirement?
It clearly is not. In certain cases, of course, there are people who absolutely need scholarships to get into a university, or must apply to BUET, but these are not the majority. Of course, everyone involved in HSC/SSC exams would like some of these, but frankly, we need to rethink the very way we perceive the usefulness of our education system.
And this practice bleeds into the rest of the country.
If the kids are not alright in being able to distinguish between moral good and bad, what hope do we have of having a future generation which upholds the values of fairness and justice in other facets of life?
This remains especially the case when we consider education to be the bedrock on which any country stands.
Schools are where children are not only taught subjects, but it is their first experience of society, presenting a microcosm of the outside world.
If the parents then play god, and ignore the rules that they need to follow to be a part of that society, they are basically being taught that, when they come out, they can pretty much do the same.
Are we honestly, then, surprised that the rest of Bangladesh functions pretty much in the same manner?
Honestly, even considering the various excuses which force parents and students to give in to the lure of the leaked question papers, it is a practice that, perhaps, we can no longer excuse.
It is ugly, it is unacceptable, and parents and guardians should seriously reconsider what the continuation of such behaviour means for their children.
SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant in the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul.