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How to improve the quality of education

Written By: Towhid
22/07/2016 21:03

There blows a storm in the arena of primary and secondary education in Bangladesh. The government's swinging decisions on education have created a lot of tensions in the mind of the learners and the guardians as well. The methods of education are going through various experiments. The policy makers are not experienced enough to incorporate the right method thinking its pros and cons.

There are two major problems regarding education system. One is the introduction of two public examinations, PEC and JSC in primary and secondary levels. These exams began in 2009 with serious criticism from the educationists, researchers, intelligent citizens, guardians and teachers and have been continued for seven years. They have questioned the value of these examinations. The exams have encouraged the students to drill and rote memorization. Students do not get chance to understand the contents or get scope to create something on their own.  It doesn't contribute to improving the teaching learning process. It neglects understanding and creativity, disregards basic content of the curriculum, and discourages thinking and reasoning. It has put extra pressure on kids and evolved an unhealthy competition in them for securing the highest grades. It eventually created a boom in coaching centres and made mostly dependent on guidebooks and notes.
After considering these hazards the primary and mass education ministry had made a very wise decision on 18th June, 2016 by scrapping Primary Education Completion (PEC) exams in class-V. The decision was taken in view of uplifting primary education up to grade-VIII and relieving as many as 3 millions of fifth graders of the PEC exams. It was also decided that there would be only one public examination at the end of Class VIII. The students, guardians and teachers would get freedom from anxiety. But the government backtracked from the previous decision on 27th June in its cabinet meeting and said that the exams will continue as before, much to the surprise and dismay of the students and their guardians.
Another problem in education is the introduction of creative system. The creative curriculum, introduced from 2009, according to National Education Policy 2010, has been the cause of low performances of both the teachers and students. The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) made changes in the content of the syllabus as well as the question pattern to assess the learner’s creativity. But, the teachers are not capable enough to carry out the plan. Around 41% high schools of our country cannot prepare creative questions. 55% teachers of primary schools do not understand the creative system. According to a recent survey conducted by Research for Advancement of Complete Education (RACE), more than half of 100 primary school teachers, who took part in a survey, are still unclear about creative education method. Even more alarming is that about half of the teachers (47%) surveyed rely on guidebooks to prepare lessons while 92% students take the help of guidebooks to understand their lessons.
The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) made changes in the content of the syllabus as well as the question pattern to assess the learner’s creativity. But we see some strange things in English from class three to SSC level. What are the uses of the English Text Books, where only 25 to 35 marks are kept for a seen passage? Then why should the learners read the whole contents of the text books all the year round for answering only 25 to 35 marks? Thus, the learners have to depend on the guidebooks and notes for answering the rest unseen matters bearing 65 to 75 marks.  Can the kids of 3, 4 or 5 grades understand unseen topics which are very complex and don't suit their realization? It is known to everybody that government expends a huge portion of its national budget to distribute free text books among the primary and secondary students every year. Is the vast expenditure done only for answering 25 to 35 marks? So, the students as well as the teachers do not show eagerness to learn or teach the texts for our education is exam-based. As a result, the sky-high view of learning goes in vein.
Another alarming matter is that students have been taking the SSC exams from approximately 2009 to 2016 without touching their English text book. Because, both the 1st and 2nd paper bearing 100 marks each, completely unseen based. Not a single portion of the text book is used where many important lessons are included for learning. Then what is the use of this? Only this year a seen passage bearing 27 marks has been included in the syllabus of Class Nine. Is it creative process of learning where all the matters are taken from infinite unseen sources? Then why will not the students eventually be dependent on guidebooks, notes or other reference books? I think this sort of syllabus would put the learners into a vulnerable position in learning English.     
It is worth-mentioning that to learn any language, literature plays a great role. The subject English has been introduced to learn English language. In order to learn it a learner must go through the contents given in the texts. The question setters should set questions from respective text books. And minimum 100 marks should be kept from text as if the learners can take preparation from their texts. Unseen passages, compositions and grammatical questions should be included in 2nd paper bearing 50 to 100 marks. Now, students from Class Three to Five have to answer a seen passage of 35 marks, an unseen passage of 45 marks, language and vocabulary 20 marks. Students of Class Eight have to answer a seen passage of 25 marks from their text book, an unseen passage of 10 marks, fill in the gaps, rearranging etc of 20 marks and composition writings 40 marks. It can easily be understood that there is no scope of learning English, as the text books are highly neglected.
The MCQ system was incepted in 1991. Then students had to answer 50 MCQs for 50 marks from a question bank of 500. This system increased the passing rate overnight but disrupted the standard of education.
The system is still going on. But after a huge criticism, the authorities are reducing the numbers. In May, 2016 a meeting was held at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka, where the participant educationists, economists, engineers recommended the abolishment of multiple choice questions (MCQ) system  in all examinations. MCQs have made the secondary education system complex. Noted educationist Professor Zafar Iqbal said, "I myself cannot realize many things in science books of Class IX . . . how a student can realize those . . . curriculum of secondary education should be made easier and understandable." Again, introduction of creative questions in mathematics and other science related subjects has made those very hard to understand for the learners. It is alarming that the students of our country are gradually losing their interest in learning science. So, I urge the govt. to introduce the traditional system for the science related subjects instead of creative system.   
Introduction of the grade point based results have created another chaos in the arena of education in recent years. Educationist Mr. Faruk thinks, pressing the students for achieving higher grade point average in every subject is killing talents. Thus, the learning has been very tough and fearful for the learners. Again, MCQs and compromised evaluation process have increased the higher number of passers with GPA 5. Total number of GPA 5 holders in HSC was 57789, 46736 and 51469 in 2014, 2013 and 2012 respectively. But higher pass rate and increasing number of GPA-5 achievers do not ensure quality of education. Though pass rates in public exams are getting higher these days, a huge number of students fail to gain the desired level of competence required for the practical life. So, to ensure the quality of education is a crying need.
This year’s SSC and equivalent success rate is 88.29 per cent which is 1.25 percentage points higher than that of last year. Some 109761 students achieved GPA-5 grade this year. But on the other hand, 11.71 per cent students failed. Again the results of SSC and equivalent examinations highlight a hard reality – the disparity in terms of standards between educational institutions in urban and rural areas. This year some 875 schools showed low performances are mainly located in rural areas. The schools have not enough qualified teachers, library and laboratory facilities. Rural students mostly fail in English, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Teachers are not available in large number in rural schools to help the students. So, it is a clear indication of the absence of equal facilities in the education arena.
There are some other causes behind low performances. If the curriculums become harder than students' capacity, then their performances are sure to run low. First of all, we should think of the power of retention of the learners. Then curriculums should be made considering their grades, ages, etc. Poor school attendance of both students and teachers, less contact time in school, lack of skilled school teachers, burden of excess curriculum, etc. are causes of low performances. The government should take necessary actions to address the problems.
So, how to ensure the quality of education? At first, the policy makers should stop going through various experiments. Creative questions should be set from seen matters given in the texts. The curriculums and the mark distributions should be given accordingly. All questions should be text based. Keep English and science related subjects free from creative system. Quit the MCQs gradually. Then the note and guidebook culture will automatically be stopped. Then the learners and their guardians would get relief from extra burden and anxiety. Govt. should think on the grading system of results. Here the traditional system of results would be more fruitful than this. Then the students would be able to know their achieved marks and get evaluations accordingly in the higher studies and a good job as well.
The Education Policy 2010 indeed a good policy for developing a dependable education system in the primary and secondary levels. But the Cabinet couldn't implement it for some important grounds. To implement the policy the government has to perform a gigantic task. Most of the primary and secondary schools are located in separate infrastructures and have separate pool of teachers. Besides, the government has to prepare a new curriculum for the newly proposed primary level, create new posts of teachers and allocate additional funds. The primary education ministry would have to devise the new curriculum and settle the issues related to different schools all across the country. A huge fund is needed regarding this. The government has to materialize the project by phases.   
To ensure the quality of education, we need an education-friendly environment in every level of education.
The principal aim of education is to make good and patriotic citizens. Student life is the only time to teach them accordingly. We should allow them to grow both physically and mentally. But, it's a matter of pity that the students don't get time to play as school hours start at 9:00 am and continue till 4:00 pm. The long hours should be reduced and extra-curricular activities and adequate infrastructural facilities should be ensured.
Creativity is a natural thing. Human mind becomes creative when a learner gets atmosphere to express his ideas and thoughts. Creative system of curriculums couldn't be utilized through various public examinations. Now, examinations are fearful matters to the learners. They do not get delights in it. The eminent dramatist Mamunur Rashid said, "Education is a delightful effort. Creativity comes from delights." So, to ensure the quality of education we should think on it anew.

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