Primary education seems to have received more attention from the relevant authorities. The directorate of primary education has recently sent some proposals to the ministry that call for some changes mainly in the recruitment process of teachers. The educational qualifications and age limit of head teacher and the assistant teachers of government primary schools have been proposed to be changed in the rough recruitment procedure developed by the DPE (Directorate of Primary Education). It is learnt that the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education is reviewing the proposal.
The teachers of government primary schools are recruited following the regulations developed in 2013 where the educational qualifications for male and female candidates were different in the sense that the male candidates have to be minimum graduate while female candidates need only intermediate certificate to become government primary school teachers. Today our women are not lagging behind that this kind of special consideration need to be shown towards them, compromising the quality of primary education.We know that currently the ratio of boys and girls in our primary education is 53:47 and in secondary 52:48. Though in the tertiary level this ratio is different, still their academic situation has changed quite a lot. So, women’s academic qualification has been proposed to be equal to that of men for applying primary school teaching. This proposal deserves appreciation. The quality of secondary and higher secondary level education is questionable in the country due to awarding of undue marks to the students, examining scripts very liberally, question leakage and giving undue advantage in the examination halls. Only intermediate pass teachers coming out of these situations cannot necessarily give better education to the future leaders of the country. The new proposal sent to the ministry says both the male and female candidates must be graduates to become primary school teacher. Of course, the existing sixty percent quota for female candidates shall remain valid.
In the existing system graduates can apply for the position of head teacher directly that has also been proposed to be post graduate. The age limit for recruiting head teacher was between 25 and 35. As the position has been upgraded to second class, keeping pace with the rules and regulations of Public Service Commission (PSC) the age limit has been proposed between 21 and 30. However, sixty-five percent teachers from the in-service could be employed as head teachers through promotion. In that case the educational qualifications would be relaxed and PSC will shoulder the responsibility fully to recruit and promote teachers. We propose the potential teachers could be promoted up to Director, Director General and more than that. If it is done, the brilliant candidates will vie for the position of primary school teachers and head teachers that will ensure quality education for our future generation. Emphasis has also been given on subject based teacher recruitment. In the existing rule graduates of any subject can apply for becoming teachers of government primary schools. It means the candidates passing from humanities group can become teachers who find it difficult to teach science and mathematics. The new proposal says at least twenty percent teachers should be recruited who studied science subjects in the graduation level. Moreover, cluster wise art and music teachers to be recruitment. Art and music are integral parts of education but these subjects don’t receive due importance. In this perspective, this proposal gives us hope to think of the betterment of primary education. Teacher recruitment will be made upazilla or thana wise as was done before but nobody could be recruited as assistant teacher without the recommendation of central committee. In new rule, from 13th to 16th salary grade teachers can be recommended for ten to twelve grades. And the teachers belonging to ten to twelve grades can receive recommendation for being promoted to nine or ten grade officials. The recommendation of PSC (Public Service Commission) is applicable in both the cases 2013 regulation allows 35 percent position for head teachers directly from fresh candidates and 65 percent through the promotion of assistant teachers. But when on 09 March 2014 the position of head teachers was upgraded to second class officer this, procedure calls for second thought. Here also PSC will perform recruitment formalities for appointing new head teachers and assistant teachers to be promoted as head teachers.
Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS) says that three lakh 51 thousand 213 teachers work in primary schools and out of them 13.1 percent SSC passed, 29.3 percent HSC, 32.7percent honours pass, 29.4 percent masters pass. Though honours and masters passed people are working in primary schools, their way of delivery does not seem up to the marks with some possible exceptions as they don’t have any training in education and child psychology that causes their delivery unimpressive. Ensuring quality primary education has been urged in the global arena saying ‘Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning’. Bangladesh responded to the appeal very positively and has decreased dropout along with ensuring primary education enrolment about hundred percent. It can be mentioned that in 2005 the enrolment rate was 87.2 that has increased 97.7percent in 2015 and now about hundred percent (?). The dropout rate of children was 47.2percent in 2005 that has decreased to 20.4 in 2015. To ensure quality primary education quality teachers, curriculum and textbooks go hand in hand. By 2030 quality teachers to be developed for teaching children that requires teacher training. Under PEDP-3 one and half year long Diploma In Primary Education course has been going on in 66 Primary Teaches Training Institutes and so far more than 21 thousand teachers have received training. Still three lakh 30 thousand teachers are left beyond training.
In our neighbouring country Sri Lanka and some other countries such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan Singapore teachers need education degree to get into teaching profession. They have honours course in primary education in Teachers Training Institutes that we don’t have though for secondary level teachers honours courses are available in some TT colleges. In Sri Lanka both in-service and pre-service training facilities are available for the professional development of teachers. We have many things to learn from these examples to bring about qualitative change in our primary education.
The writer is Programme Manager-BRAC Education Programme