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The education of a nation

  • Published at 11:59 pm January 17th, 2019
CLASSROOM
Students in a class room Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Some suggestions for improving our education sector

I firmly believe that the greatest responsibility of the nation has been assigned to honourable Minister of Education Dipu Moni. 

Although this journey is quite challenging, full of thorns rather than roses, we hope the minister will be able to assume her responsibilities, and wish her all the best. 

As we all know, our education sector has been on the verge of destruction; now that quality is not the main concern anymore, the entire nation is eagerly waiting to see some substantial development in this sector to protect their spine, and the future generation. I hope the ministry will respect the wants and needs of the mass population.

As is known, education is the only key driver of human capital development, which also promises an uptick in the level of morality among citizens. No nation can be prosperous without developing its human capital. 

Since Bangladesh is a densely populated country with a demographic dividend, we must grab this comparative advantage of demographic dividend through ensuring the proper quality of education, and transforming this huge population into human resources for further national development.  

Therefore, we expect that the prime concern of the minister of education will be the quality of education, not merely the quantity. Despite thousands of problems Bangladesh faces, I am optimistic that the education minister will shed some light on this sector.

Without some much-needed change, we will continue to produce thousands of rapists, drug peddlers, and so on rather than quality citizens who care not only about the people around them but the world itself. In this respect, I would love to make some recommendations to the ministry of education to take substantive steps for our primary, secondary, and tertiary education.

First and foremost, the ministry should propose a separate policy framework that adopts the best education models of the world, like Finland, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, and Estonia for primary and secondary education, while higher education should follow research universities in such as MIT, Harvard, Oxford etc. 

Second, in the context of Bangladesh, we need a politics-free education system. Whether it is real or imagined, political influence, student politics, and teacher politics destroy our education system. 

I firmly believe that everybody is aware of the adverse effects of politics in education. Despite a positive will, it is not possible to change it overnight. However, we can start by not politicizing the education sector. There should be no nepotism, and any form of discrimination should be avoided.

Third, the world is changing dynamically, both students and teachers should go with the flow of modernization. Teachers should use modern tools. Using the same textbook or class note for 40 years will prevent students from moving forward. Even though circumstances are changing and taking a new shape, the pace of adaptation is very slow in Bangladesh. 

Fourth, we need to make sure that there is classroom-based education, not coaching centre-based. The classroom should be interactive -- there should be two-way communication between the teachers and students. Teachers should motivate students to participate actively in the classroom -- only then can they develop their interpersonal and communicational skills. 

Fifth, the allocation for education must be increased. We lack the proper resources. We generally do not have access to online libraries, or any other database systems available in our universities.

Sixth, we need to establish more and more research-based universities. Without research and innovation, a nation cannot be prosperous. We have 160 million people -- it is unfortunate that we could not establish even a single research university yet. It is even more pathetic that some policy-makers do not know what a research university is in the first place.

Seventh, we must participate in the world-university ranking system. This is a healthy competition, and will aid in the enhancement of knowledge. 

Last but not least, we should encourage social engagement. In today’s world, we rarely find students involving themselves in social and welfare activities. 

Therefore, we urge the education minister, politicians, policy-makers, civil society, judiciary, stake-holders, and everyone else, to come forward, and work together collectively, instead of just complaining about the prevailing problems. It is never too late to take appropriate steps to save our present and future generations. 

Muhammad Mehedi Masud is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Malaysia.