The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has, according to a report, detected irregularities, corruption, disorder and mismanagement in five primary and secondary schools in Chattogram. On his sudden visit to those educational institutions, the ACC chairman found nine teachers out of 11 of a school absent, students absent were shown present in another school and in yet another school where the headmaster did not attend the school 27 ninth graders were promoted to 10th grade for exchange of money. These are serious charges, no doubt. But should it reflect the picture of educational institutions at large and can be generalised as a common malaise bedevilling education in Bangladesh? Five schools are certainly not enough to be representative. But the ACC has already sent a set of recommendations to the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education and the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education on the basis of the deplorable situation prevailing in the five schools.
Here is an area that should exclusively be a preserve of the education ministry. There are rogue and corrupt teachers but there is no point maligning the entire teachers' community. Teachers may default on many counts and most of those practices are nothing but the follow-ups of a flawed education policy. Until now the system of education could not take an acceptable shape to meet the challenges of the time. The question of meeting the emerging challenges of the fourth industrial revolution does not arise at all. The policymakers are still debating the multiple choice question (MCQ) system and the grade point average (GPA)-5 rates in school and public examinations. Neither are they concerned so much about knowledge gathering nor suitable curricula for employability of graduates. Some teachers have only made the most of the situation in the absence of an accountable and transparent system.
As long as a system like this continues, some teachers will take undue advantages. If teachers of reputed schools and colleges neglect their classes in order to commercialise coaching before and after class hours, it is because such a scope is there for them. They can argue if physicians can concentrate more on private practice than on their hospital duty, why can't they follow a similar routine? But this is bad argument, no doubt. There is still a rare breed which does not give in to similar temptation for money making. Clearly the overriding need is to reform the system.
So far as corruption in education is concerned, it has now become endemic. The ACC would strike a corruption den where administrative set-ups perform various tasks like approval of affiliation, disbursal of funds, transfer of teachers and contributory share of non-government staff salary etc. Education by all means has to preserve its sanctity. When headmasters and principals are compelled to part with some money for moving their files, their integrity becomes a casualty. The compromise they are forced to make, leads to irregularities and corruption at the grassroots levels of education. For example, it is no secret now that recruitment of teachers for sometime was unimaginable without so-called contribution to the development fund of schools. Even admission of students follows the same practice in some educational institutions. The ACC can look into such malpractices.
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