It’s unfortunate that the education system in Bangladesh is trapped by the coaching business -- a burgeoning business for sure. Recently, the authorities concerned have shown a great deal of passion and focus towards curbing coaching centres, which certainly deserves our attention.
However, a question naturally arises: Will banning coaching centres guarantee an improvement in our education quality? The truest answer is: Not really.
While our education system is indeed quite flawed -- for instance, Bangladesh budgets the lowest allocation in the education sector among South Asian countries -- the coaching centres are home to a lot of unscrupulous practices, such as bribery.
It is an open secret that public university lecturers often dip their feet into the waters of private universities. A large number of teachers and lecturers in government schools and colleges fail to take regular classes as they are busy with something else.
Exacerbating our already crumbling education system, we also have arbitrary public exams such as PSC, JSC, etc, which put further pressure on students at earlier stages of their lives.
I firmly believe that, without taking a substantive strategic policy for the education sector, these government initiatives will grievously undermine the quality of our education. Such initiatives will definitely put them in a situation of unexpected vulnerability, and it is crystal clear that teachers in non-government schools and colleges stand to be adversely affected the most.
If not only because their salary scale and other facilities are very low compared to their government equivalents.
However, it is widely accepted that the quality of education depends a lot on the quality of teachers, and not just the education infrastructure. And it is very unfortunate that we have seen very little progress in this sector. Certainly, we need to make sure that classroom-based education is good enough that coaching centres become redundant.
But before banning coaching centres, we urge the relevant authorities to make some key strategic changes to our education system, such as putting in place a policy framework that adopts the best education models in the world for our primary, secondary, and higher education.
Additionally, the budgetary allocation for the education sector needs to be increased in order to provide reasonable salary scales and other facilities for all groups of teachers. A good education benefits the whole nation, let’s give it the attention it deserves.
Muhammad Mehedi Masud is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya.