On 29 September TIB released a report on ‘Secondary Education Activities Implementation: challenges of good governance and the ways of overcoming’ where several grim pictures of corruption have come out that tend to make any conscious individual worried. The report says that recruiting principal, head teacher, assistant teacher, assistant librarian, inspecting and auditing educational institutions getting academic recognition, renewal of agreement, teacher transfer- all of these aspects of education see the involvement of bribe.
Besides these, the lengthy process of implementing education policy, irregularities, limitation and some more ‘positive and negative aspects’ have appeared through the report.
The employment of principal, head teacher, assistant teacher, transfer of teachers and MPO inclusion call for the amount of price Tk three lakh fifty thousand to Tk fifteen lakh. To transfer one teacher involves Tk one to two lakh. The brokers take this money who are mostly the staff and officials of DSHE. Teachers qualified through NTRCA exam also have to pay bride amounting to fifty thousand to Tk two lakh, assistant librarian employment needs Tk two to three lakh, and inspecting educational institution needs Tk fifty thousand to five lakh. Getting academic recognition needs one lakh to five lakh, MPO inclusion needs Tk five thousand to one lakh per teacher, recognition renewal needs five to thirty thousand take and transfer of teacher Tk one to two lakh taka. In this ocean of corruption in education where is the quality and skill, where is honesty and professionalism? Money plays the crucial game here. Who will look into the matter? Should we consider the sector of education is similar to others? If we do that, it must be a serious blunder.
In response to TIB report the teacher leaders say “bribing in the education administration is a true fact but the amount of bribe may be more or less than TIB has released. The management committee is fully involved in employing non-government teachers. The head teachers sometimes have to follow illegal procedures due to the pressure created by the managing committee members who belong to powerful group or political wing. To get MPO giving hush money begins from the field level and it reaches till the highest tier. So, we demand the nationalization of educational institutions and that is the true solution.’’ A follow-up question arises: does the nationalization banish corruption from the field of education? Bribing goes on while transferring government teachers as well as education officials. It also happens in terms of even promoting teachers.
It has been identified that the service seekers have to pay a fat amount of bribe at least in eight points in the secondary level. On top of that, different development programmes witness serious corruption. Teachers and staff remain in their working places year after year even though they are supposed to work in one place usually for three years. Look at NCTB where some officials have been more than two decades. What about other teachers? It is not unknown to us that corruption lies at every step of every department of our country. However, the field of education deserves to remain fresh and clean as it promises to produce honest skilled citizens for the country.
It would be really difficult to banish and root out the corruption from the country if the state does not take stern stand and action against corruption. We cannot afford to avoid corruption in the field of secondary education. So, the departments concerned should look into the matter very seriously and address it pragmatically. The Director of DSHE-(College and Administration) responds to the report of TIB that goes here, ‘we have not yet received the report in our hand. We will analyze it in detail. We must see how they have developed the report, how much truth lies in it and how much it will be acceptable. The formalities of MPO are online, so there lies no scope of corruption. Even if, it happens somewhere and we will take necessary action in case of any truth unearths.’ What is happening in the areas mentioned by TIB is not unknown to him. We also know that only he or his colleagues are not solely responsible for this mishap. It’s a syndicate that has developed over the years and the entire mechanism has been vitiated by it. One or two honest individuals alone cannot address it.
TIB has also identified serious weakness in the field level administrative works of DSHE due to the absence coordinated and skilled manpower. Monitoring and inspection work also has weaknesses. Lack of transparency and accountability, long term political influence on educational issues, irregularities in terms of management and finance, have been rightly identified by TIB. Corruption has taken an institutional shape because of these weakness and longtime irregularities. Many works are going on by virtue of executive order and pertinent law has not been developed and enacted.
Many important issues of the education policy of 2020 have not been implemented yet. Education law has not been passed so far. National budget for education does not satisfy the international criteria though it seems the budget has increased in terms of amount. However, in reality the case proves opposite. It has been suggested by UNICEF to spend 6 percent of the GDP or 20 percent of the total budget for education of a county. However, that remains between 10 and 12 percent and GDP 2.3 percent if we look at the last ten years ‘national budget.
But the countries of South Asia allocate around three to six percent of their GDP for education. In this perspective, TIB has suggested to increase the financial facilities of the MPO enlisted teachers and staff and teachers to be developed as more and more efficient and emphasizes the necessity of decreasing teacher student ratio. TIB has suggested to establish one ‘Regional Educational Management Academy’ to enhance the quality of education by providing training to the teachers. The skills gained by the trained teachers must be tested very rigorously.
It has also suggested to employ non-government teachers through a teacher selection commission and to increase the duration of the training. Close supervision during training of the teachers has also been emphasized and to increase the duration of the training. Classroom has to be brought under permanent multi-media either by the government or by institutions themselves. Tender, schedule, buying and selling of things of any project has to be produced online.
The irregularities and weakness of different projects should be reflected through monitoring and evaluation. In most of the institutions teachers are employed with the influence of SMC that stands as a great barrier of quality education. A reasonable educational qualification must be set for becoming SMC chair and members. The current practice shows that uneducated and uncultured people occupy these positions by virtue of their muscle power seriously vitiating the atmosphere of educational institutions. We must get out of the vicious circle of corruption in the greater interest of the nation, education and our posterity at large. The sooner we can do it the better.
The writer is President, English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh (ETAB) and works as an education expert in BRAC Education. Email: [email protected]