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2 December, 2021 11:23:45 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 December, 2021 11:30:56 PM

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Primary education board debate

If we really want to run the primary education effectively and in a sound manner, a separate education cadre for primary education must be established. These cadre officials will have to work directly as primary school teachers for minimum five years to learn practically the ins and outs of primary education, child psychology, field administration, root level people.
Masum Billah
Primary education board debate

When our children get sick we take them to the child specialist even though a lot of qualified doctors are available around us as we know they may be highly qualified and experienced in the medicinal discipline. However, they cannot show their expertise in treating child disease.

Children’s education, their psychology, cognitive development and related mental growth works must not be known to the otherwise qualified people. It sounds strange to think that any professionals can run children’s education. Our primary education is the largest family in the field of education but it does not have its own cadre to look after its welfare. It makes us astonished to see that children’s education management has been administered by the officials of administration cadre. It’s true that the officials of administration cadre are smarter, meritorious and all-rounder. However, do all these features ensure that they are quite fit for running the education of children? The students of BUET are really meritorious, but does it mean that they will be able to give suitable treatment to the patients suffering from fever or stomach pain?

If we really want to run the primary education effectively and in a sound manner, a separate education cadre for primary education must be established. These cadre officials will have to work directly as primary school teachers for minimum five years to learn practically the ins and outs of primary education, child psychology, field administration, root level people. Our cadre officials think and show they are quite different people from the common mass and the more they can expose it, the more they think become important. This concept must be buried in education cadre at least. Gradually they will be amalgamated to children’s education management. Suddenly, the officials of this cadre should be placed on the chair of administrator. They will have to come back to teaching after several years to adjust with the newly developed situations and problems in the education sector. As we do just the opposite in terms of administration, things remain poles apart from the practical situation.

Primary education is the base of all tiers of education that should not be based on memorization, devoid of creativity. Their creativity must be encouraged so that our future generation can contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic condition of the country and face the challenges of the 21st century. Traditionally, we have made our education just assessment based, paper based and turned our learners into examinees. After a long discussion, debate and criticism, our coming curriculum is going to accommodate more on formative assessment that will be 70 percent in grade three to five and 30 percent in the summative part, from six to eight it will be 60 percent formative and 40 percent summative, in the SSC 50 percent formative and 50 percent summative. Against this backdrop, the proposal to build ‘primary education board’ to conduct children public examinations exacerbates us.

If we look back at the history how PECE examination occupied the status of national examination. We know, before the year 2009 annual examinations took place to mark the completion of grade five and a few students who were selected as bright students sat for scholarship examination and the school remained busy with them, gave exclusive attention towards them and rest of the students thought themselves to be the slow learners and the schools also treated them accordingly. This, in fact, exerted pressure on their sophisticated mind. It usually puts adverse effect on their mind that lingers in their mind for long. This is why the education building committee introduced one examination for all so that all could receive equal importance and on the basis of that examination to be held in the upazila or district level would determine the scholarship recipients. This examination ultimately took the shape of national public examination and encouraged the private publishers and teachers to boost up their private business. These examinations threw the students in this tender age to adopt unfair means to obtain good grades that tells them how to embrace deceptive path to get a certificate that absolutely goes against the real purpose of education. They lose the real interest of learning getting them engaged in an unhealthy competition that does not promise to give them any positive thing. So, this traditional assessment for the children must be replaced by such an approach that would give them pleasure, personal engagement and release creative thoughts and ideas.

Already 36 prominent  citizens of the country have expressed their concern over the enactment issue of ‘Primary Education Board Law-2021’ by MoPME who said this decision would be suicidal and seriously requested the authorities concerned to come away from this decision. They also said that Bangladesh has achieved some milestones in the field of education that include almost cent percent children have been brought to school, stipend for girl students, reducing the dropout rate, gender parity in terms of admission in secondary school and distribution of books free of cost to the students. All these deserve praise. The national education policy 2010 does not consider grade five completion examinations as public examinations either. It rather says exams will take place in the upazilla or district level. On the contrary, MoPME has said NAPE has sent different ministries and divisions to learn their opinion and on 25 October inter-ministerial meeting took place and the draft law was placed there. Now it has been uploaded on the website of MoPME for inviting public opinion and by 21 November opinions were requested to submit.

We have noticed that our children have lost their natural spontaneity, cleverness and movement due to the ongoing education system meant for them. They have also lost their creativity and harmonious way of growing up. Their visiting private teachers and coaching centres one after another for gaining a good grade has seriously squeezed their games and sporting opportunities that restricts their natural and harmonious development. To nurture a scientific and tolerable nation this way of educating them stands in the way of their normal development. We don’t know why MoPME has taken the initiative to establish ‘Primary Education Board.’ If it is for continuing the current PECE examination and encouraging them to read note and guide books, we must have a say against it. We want our children to depend less on exam and certificate orientated education. Pleasant atmosphere for education should be ensured for them instead and our efforts should be directed towards that end.

In spite of the presence of these factors, an ‘education board’ for primary education can be formed to ensure the sound formative assessment which is now in the discussion level, not in the practical field in the true sense of the term. How it can be done very effectively and all the teachers and education administrators can learn and use it well, the education board can work for that. Whatever will be done, children must not be made the subject of examination at the cost of their mental and psychological pressure. Whatever they do, they must do it through joy and fun which is the principal approach of children’s education and ‘primary education board’ can do that in a truly professional way. In the current practice, Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) conducts a National Student Assessment (NSA) that must be a laudable step and this assessment can be done more effectively and efficiently by a particular cell of Primary Education Board. It may also accommodate several important units such as child psychology, children behaviour, dealing with difficult children and on the basis of these research reports child friendly steps may be taken. Similarly, the entire process of primary teacher development can be dealt with by this board. This board will not work in the traditional sense of the term as our current education boards do. After the establishment of this board, the NAPE should not exist as it will be the extended or developed version of NAPE (National Academy for Primary Education) which will be manned by education experts and to be administered by education cadre officials, not from administration cadre. The Directorate of Primary Education will look after only the administrative affairs of primary education administration. Children’s performance should not be assessed traditionally that we do today. This is why education board of exclusive kind to be established and so, education board can contribute a lot to the cause and development of children’s education. It does not necessarily mean only to conduct the so-called Primary Education Completion Examination.

The writer is President, English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh (ETAB) and an education expert in BRAC Education. Email: [email protected]

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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