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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

A study in change

Reform is the only way forward for our education system

Update : 04 Jan 2024, 04:37 PM

The need for modification and incorporation of changes in our education system and curriculum should facilitate developments in various fields such as science and technology, improving living standards, and fomenting new skills and qualifications. But if we look around, such changes are incredibly gradual, to put it generously. 

But why do we send our children to school? To acquire some basic skills in language, numerics, the sciences, and other topics which affect our everyday lives. But school, and in turn education, is about so much more. 

Those of us who went to school in the seventies and eighties may ask ourselves a few questions: Didn’t we learn language to communicate effectively? Didn’t we learn math to do our day to day activities like carrying out small transactions?

What has changed since? Well, from black boards we have shifted to white boards and markers and … not much else it seems. Other than an increasing reliance on new media to impart lessons, such as powerpoints and the like.

Take the case of language-learning. We were quite unable, in a sense, that in our traditional way we remained confined to reading from texts, but we hardly had any scope of undergoing speaking and listening practice. We did study literature and enjoyed prose and poetry from famous writers, however.

Students these days are fortunate that they have access to a lot of facilities such as language labs and so on. This may reduce the requirement of teacher-dependent learning to a great extent. In our time we meticulously learned things by consulting a dictionary. Students now find it much easier with a smartphone to look up any given word's meaning, usage, synonyms, antonyms, and pronunciation all with a tap of a finger. These are welcome changes. 

Even exams are starting to lose their relevance. Until very recently, we had public exams at the end of class five then another at class eight termed PSC and JSC, respectively. I remember the justification of having an exam after class eight was the dropout rate after that specific grade. But now we are moving to a “no exams” system at least till class nine.

It is definitely praiseworthy that we had done away with PSC and JSC given the feedback from students and guardians alike. But many would question why we must do away with a year-end exam in general for our children in the schools? There is a logic behind undue and unhealthy competition among children and how exams enable that mentality, but should we forget exams as a means to identify one’s strengths and weaknesses altogether?

Children should be encouraged to learn to overcome their weaknesses and exploit their strengths as reflected in exams. In every sphere of life there is competition and tests of some kind, not limited to education. Children should rather be trained and seasoned over years to take it as a part of life. 

It seems, when discussing our education system, we are increasingly talking about pivoting to assignments and project works. Before students are tasked to perform a project, their proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, communicating with each other, and ability to present  need to meet a minimum expected level. 

There has been visible development in the infrastructure of our educational institutions. Even primary schools are housed in decent buildings within a boundary wall and sturdy looking gates of uniform design throughout the country. But, unfortunately, we still have a terrible scarcity of teachers both in quantity and quality. It doesn’t take a scholar or researcher to realize the fact that we need to focus on this before we can go for any kind of exhaustive experiment with our education system. 

 

Brig Gen Qazi Abidus Samad, ndc, psc (Retd) is a freelance contributor. 

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