POST TIME: 5 October, 2021 05:55:44 PM
How are the teachers of Bangladesh?
Inequality has become evident in the education system due to public and private classification. Non government teachers are the biggest victims of education discrimination. There are also wide variations in the pay structure of teachers.
Majhar Mannan

How are the teachers of Bangladesh?

Like every year, World Teachers' Day was celebrated in Bangladesh on 5th October. Through this celebration every year, teachers can raise their issues and express their other thoughts. Teaching is universally admired as a great profession and teachers are considered as nation builders and teachers are held in high esteem in all countries. The overall development and self-sufficiency of a country depends on the education infrastructure and quality of education in that country. Teachers do the main work in nation building.

Recently, a report of TIB on corruption in the education sector has been published in various newspapers and we are deeply saddened to see the report. If this kind of corruption continues in the education sector, the education sector will soon face more losses. How are the teachers of Bangladesh? Are the teachers good today? The question that revolves around this day comes up again and again. Almost everyone knows the social and financial status of teachers in Bangladesh. Teachers are frequently seen going on hunger strike day after day in front of the National Press Club with the aim of gaining various rights such as salary, allowances, job security, promotion, MPO enrollment and social status.

Inequality has become evident in the education system due to public and private classification. Non government teachers are the biggest victims of education discrimination. There are also wide variations in the pay structure of teachers. As there is a difference in the management of madrasas, general education and English medium education, there is a disparity in salary, allowances and other benefits. Public universities have a specific salary structure for teachers, but private universities do not have such kind of salary structure. Exactly the same situation is noticeable in primary, secondary and colleges. Non government school and college teachers have to lead a life of hardship due to their financial quandary. There is an extreme contraposition in the salaries of government and non government teachers in primary schools. Non MPO teachers have been struggling for a long time to get MPO enrollment. Recently some teachers have already been enrolled in the MPO. Non government schools and colleges are managed by a management committee and this management committee's limitless dominance, manipulation, recruitment corruption, political interference are no longer unknown to anyone. In all these committees, neutral, highly educated, education loving scholars and learned can no longer be found today.

The notion of teachers' dignity has changed today because academicians are no longer the regulators of education. Now influential people have taken the control of education and teachers have become puppets in their hands. The status of teachers depends not only on social status but also on financial matters and they are far behind in both these respects. UNESCO has strong recommendation for teachers' status and says to ensure the safety, professionalism and position.

It has been said in the education policy 2010 to eliminate of pay inequality between government and non government teachers. The private education system has severe mismanagement, irregularities, exploitation, deprivation and pay discrimination. The promotion of non government teachers seems to be a very rare thing. MPO enlisted college teachers have only one promotion opportunity in their job period and that is to go from lecturer to assistant professor. As this promotion was given according to a certain ratio, all lecturers did not get it and many lecturers had to retire without promotion. According to the new MPO policy, the dream of teachers of higher secondary colleges to become assistant professors has finally come to an end and now they will get the path of the highest senior lecturer. They no longer have the opportunity to be promoted as assistant professors. Good salary, personality, job satisfaction, and social status are deeply connected with promotion. Indeed, teaching has become a thankless job today.

Teachers are also failing to strengthen their own position for various reasons. Notable among these are internal conflict, political factions, flattery, tailgating, nepotism, reluctance to research, deterioration of student-teacher relationship, coaching reliance, unavailability, deprivation and so on. In Bangladesh, for various reasons, talented young people do not want to come into the teaching profession. In this profession they do not find any dream of their future and do not find any spirit to build a career. However, the World Bank says that Bangladesh needs to provide quality teachers if it wants to create a skilled population. This profession is failing to attract young people due to low wages, poor social status and lack of other facilities.

The number of non government schools and colleges in Bangladesh is much higher than the number of government schools and colleges. But in all these non government schools and colleges, there are various complications in getting promotion of teachers. There is no promotion system for teachers at secondary level. The post of associate professor and professor has not yet been created in non government colleges. But the best news is that Sheikh Hasina's government has brought MPO enlisted teachers under annual increment. This 5 percent increment annually has multiplied the financial status of teachers many times over.

Many educational institutions have teachers crisis and this has an impact on other teachers and overall education. About 10 lakh teachers working in 66000 Kindergartens are living miserable lives during the Corona epidemic. Many non government teachers are struggling to sustain their teaching profession due to Covid-19 epidemic. The proposal to nationalize the whole education has been made in many ways to eliminate inequality in education. Several educational institutions have already been nationalized and some institutions are in the process of nationalization. MPO enlisted teachers have long been proposing to nationalize their jobs and educationalists have also spoken of the nationalization of education. The government has said that various educational institutions will be nationalized in phases. Non government teachers who are only paid from institution have had their salaries halved or stopped somewhere during this corona epidemic and they are in severe financial crisis.

Among Asian countries, the social status of teachers in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia is much higher. Having high dignity, talented youngsters come to the teaching profession there and continue the job with satisfaction. In China, India and Guyna, families still encourage their children to become teachers. According to a survey by Darky Foundation, in a society where teachers have a high status, students get better education. Initiatives are being taken by the government to implement quality education in Bangladesh and in order to do that social and financial status of teachers is must. The quality of education is highly dependent on teachers' upgradation. Teachers in Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, India, New Zealand, and Singapore are specially valued and these countries are reaping the benefits of education. It is nothing but foolishness to expect a good education system by depriving the teachers. Milk cannot be expected from a cow without adequate food and care. Promises to formulate a separate pay structure for teachers in Bangladesh have been repeatedly heard but it is still stuck in a dungeon due to bureaucratic complications.

Although Bangladesh is ahead of India in GDP in 2020, the difference in the salary structure of teachers between these two countries is equal to Everest. Even in Pakistan, teachers' salaries and benefits are much higher than ours.  In addition, the benefits of teachers in Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Brazil are much higher than ours. If the teachers' condition is not upgraded, the educational institutions will turn into commercial institutions instead of services. The pressure of finance and coaching will increase on students to confirm their own financial benefits.

Education is one of the 26 Cadre services in BCS. But no candidate usually wants to have this cadre as their first choice. Many talented young people join as university teachers but later go abroad for higher studies and never return to the country. There they start teaching at high salaries. In an ideal education system the best and most talented teachers work in primary schools. But in our country the opposite picture is noticeable. It is not possible to build a beautiful society without upgrading the condition of teachers.

The World Teacher's Day is important in recognition of the role of teachers. Teachers are the bearers and carriers of civilization. The teaching profession has to be challenging and accountable and this requires proper evaluation of teachers. The story of teacher development should not be limited to mere word of mouth, it should become a reality. The teachers have to find a way to get rid of the deprivation without keeping it in their chests. If there is no qualitative change of teachers and education, there will be no success in celebrating this day. 

The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College, Kurmitola, Dhaka Cantonment.