The topic which I am going to deal with is a national issue of great importance. Although many scholars of our country have focused on it in their own ways, here I am presenting my own view and opinions with practical experience as a teacher with forty years of teaching experience in different colleges and universities. To begin with let me say that the word education has its root from the Latin word “rear” which means to educate. Now we see that education is practically a complex process which involves teaching, learning, testing and evaluation to provide knowledge and develop skills. By the by we are brought to the question: What is quality education? In answer to this question it can be said that a good quality education provides the learners with capabilities, they need to become economically productive, develop sustainable livelihood, contribute to peaceful and democratic societies and promote individual well-being.
However, the four facets of education in our country are primary, secondary, higher secondary and tertiary or higher education which is provided by the public and private universities and some affiliated colleges under the National University and the University of Dhaka as well. It is very interesting to note that the number of universities is increasing day by day. The objective behind may be the noble intention of the government to reach education to the doors of the common people or decentralization of education. It is true that education is the most important tool through which we can transform the population of our country into useful human resource to bring overall development of Bangladesh. If we fail to give them true education or quality education, they would become a great liability forcing the country to face mounting pressure of unemployment. As matters stand today, a great majority of our graduates for want of quality education have been rendered jobless while few of them have gotten optimum service, plus others are doing under services. Because of technical know-how and special knowledge and experience many foreign nationals are taking away huge income from our country. It is not only a matter of great loss for the country but also a matter of shame. Quality education is still a far cry because there is no cohesion and uniformity between the syllabus designed by the public and private universities. In the public universities there is the provision for double examiners whereas in the private universities there is one examiner system of examining the answer scripts. As a result, there is no check and balance in remarking scheme.It is quite known to all that those who are above the average get chance of admission in the public universities while the average or below the average who do not get any chance to study in any government college because of their poor GPA try their fortune to some private universities where admission is as easy in terms of money. As a matter of fact, education is not a commodity but a mission. If a university makes a business of education or regards it as an income generating factory, we can never think of quality education there. But all the private universities are not same as many of them are still maintaining their high standard of education. On the contrary the district level public universities are not in equal footing with the first-rate universities established in the divisional headquarters that are really proud of their age-old tradition for having senior quality faculties, innumerable research facilities, better institutional infrastructure and quality students in their respective departments.
Lack of trained and experienced teachers greatly stands as a bar to the way of achieving quality education which demands quality teachers. It cannot be done by the novice or apprentice teachers. Sometimes due to external pressure or favourtism less competent candidates are selected in lieu of the most competent ones. Such types of candidates become disaster as students are deprived of better teaching. Another factor that cannot be avoided is that those who are highly talented do not prefer education sector which is not lucrative to them in comparison to admin, judicial and foreign service cadre. It is tantamount what George Bernard Shaw once said that those who can do and those who cannot teaches. This is no longer acceptable to the community of teachers.
There is no denying the fact that our education has nowadays become certificate-oriented. Those who obtain better GPA or A+ are highly valued by their parents to the negligence of those who lag behind them in this respect. Could we ever think how they managed to get such GPA? In most cases they copy professor’s notes or memorize sheet from tutors, friends and read a few important chapters. This is apparent when they face the test of time particularly when they fail in their attempts to get admitted to BUET, Medical colleges and first rate universities like Dhaka, Chittagong and Shahjalal etc.
That is why Muhit Lal Majumder in his article POTHIR PRATAP, once said, “Ajikar Shikkah akantoi puthigoto shikkah. Prokritir shikkah or Bogobot shikkah manosher kono kaje lage na. Ja joto beshi puthir buli awrata pare shei toto shikkito’’. He means to say that today’s education is book-oriented. The man who can more articulate lines from the book is more educated. The education of nature or God-gifted education has no use for man. However, I attended a conference on Strategic Plan for Higher Education organized by the UGC at Hotel Sant Martim, Chittagong where its late chairman, Dr. Asaduzzaman Khan (of UGC) referred to the deplorable condition of English in Bangladesh. He cited the example of a student from a private university whom he asked to translate the sentence: “Aaj amar monta kamon kamon kore”. The boy answered saying “Today my mind is how how”. On hearing this the audience began to laugh loudly.
Now I would like to switch over to our neighbouring country India which has largest student population well equipped with the knowledge of ICT and English. So they are better able to grab the global job market. On the other hand, our students are less advanced in ICT and English in comparison with India. As a consequence, we are far behind them to cope with the demand of the international job market. The main reason behind this is that their quality of education is much higher than ours. Our students cannot raise their heads above without academic excellence in the present global competition. In the words of the poets I would like to say:
In the world's broad field of battle,In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
I think we should asses our students with the graduate skills in tandem with their subject-specific studies such analyzing and problem solving, team working and inter personal skill, verbal and written communication, personal planning and organizing critical thinking, information literacy and ICT skills etc.
At the same time, we cannot lay aside the moral aspect of education. No man is truly educated until and unless he is kind, cooperative and sympathetic towards others. The aim of education should be to develop body, mind and soul. That is why Thomas Arnold in his address to the scholars said “What we must look for here is first, religious and moral principals; secondly gentlemanly conduct; thirdly intellectual ability.”
We have the ray of hope that IQAC (Institutional Quality Assurance Cell) is systematically working under UGC to monitor and supervise quality education in the public and private universities throughout the country. This is not enough to improve the total scenario of education. The Directorate of Primary, Secondary and Higher Education in collaboration with the Education Boards should work together to set up IQAC to monitor and enhance quality education in their respective field. This combined effort will bring positive result. So mere development of the higher education sector to the negligence of other sectors may not serve the purpose. Our education suffered because of the legacy of the past Governments and their weak policies. We all know that there was a time, the worst of time when English was abolished as a compulsory subject from the Degree syllabus for which the country was awash with graduates having little knowledge of English during the particular regime.
No government, not even BNP, nor JP has so much emphasized on the paramount necessity of quality education than the dynamic government of Sheikh Hasina, the great Prime Minister of Bangladesh. We are greatly indebted to the present government for its gigantic steps towards the enhancement of quality education in Bangladesh because a good education is the gateway to success for any country.
And finally, the implementation of the concept of quality education cannot be done overnight but it will require the hand of time. It is not a one-sided task on the part of the government or the UGC but all the stakeholders of different educational institutions from the primary to the tertiary level must come forward and make concerted effort.
Prof. M. Matiur Rahman; the writer is a Dean, School of Arts and Social Science; Britannia University Cumilla & Director (Institutional Quality Assurance Cell)