Despite some achievements in terms of the coverage of primary and secondary education across the country as well as the pass rates of public exams in the outgoing year, controversies like question paper leak in different terminal exams and unusual failure rate in Dhaka University admission tests have raised some serious concerns for the sector, according to educationists.
They, however, said this encouraging that the rate of primary school going children has made a great stride in 2014 as 97.3 percent of the children, aged 6-10, are now going to school while the dropout rate decreased by 21.3 percent.
In 2014, 78.33 percent of the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinees passed successfully in the exams while some 70,602 students achieved the highest grade point average (GPA)-5.
But the higher pass rate and GPA scoring cannot be gulped with much pleasure as the incidents of question leak in some public exams like Primary School Certificate (PSC), Junior School Certificate (JSC), Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) have frequently been exposed.
Alongside, there are some failures like leaking of question papers in public examinations, poor education quality, corruption in private universities and violent attitude of Bangladesh Chhatra Legue (BCL), the student associate body of the ruling party.
Particularly, during the primary terminal examinations, students got the leaked questions through mobile phones, social networking sites and emails before the examination days.
In fact, it was the parents of the primary examinees who collected the leaked out questions that went viral in the internet, whereas the government failed to stop the repeated question leaks.
Although in most cases, the authorities denied the allegations, the Education Ministry formed an investigation body to probe the question leak in the primary terminal exams. Despite their efforts, the probe body failed to identify the quarters involved in the question leaks.
However, the committee gave some recommendation, for instance, using technology to make question papers, making more sets of a question paper and select a set through lottery.
Another controversy arose when educationists, and even the Education Minister, raised questions about the admission test process of the Dhaka University following the failure of 90.45 percent of admission seekers to obtain the pass marks in the ‘Kha’ unit exam.
The pass rate in ‘Ka’ and ‘Ga’ units’ admission tests of the university is also not satisfactory as 21.5 percent participants got the pass mark in ‘Ka’ unit and 20.61 percent in ‘Ga’ unit.
Responding to a huge outcry about the unbelievably low pass rate in DU admission test, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said, “The selection process for admission to the Dhaka University is faulty. That’s why a large number of students couldn’t obtain the minimum pass mark in the test.”
Educationists observed that the poor performance of students in the admission tests of the country’s premier educational institution after a huge pass rate of 78.33 percent with more than 70,000 GPA-5 achievers in the HSC examination this year indicates that quality education still remains a far cry.
DU Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury found the poor performance of students in the admission tests as an ‘alarming signal’, saying that they have been doing good results in the public examinations -- SSC and HSC -- in recent years, but the quality of education did not improve.
“The good results in the public examinations will be fruitless unless the quality of education is not ensured,” he told.
Choudhury identified the growing dependence of students on coaching system, absence of cultural life for students and lack of training, and financial and other privileges for teachers as the main reasons behind the low standard of education in Bangladesh. Apart from this, Bangladesh Chhatra League hit the headlines several times throughout the year hampering academic atmosphere in the educational institutions.
Barely a month back, one student, Sumon, was killed in a clash between BCL faction at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), prompting its authorities to declare the university closed sine die.
Private universities were also not away from debate as a report by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) unveiled grafts in the sector.
According to the TIB report, students could get a certificate from some private universities in exchange of bribe instead of study.
On the progress in country’s education sector, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said the number of students have increased in 2014 as well as the drop out rate decreased.
“We arranged the examinations and published the results timely,” he said
“Progression came in girl’s education and the quality of the education also increased. We made 20,000 multimedia classrooms and increased the technical study to eight percent which was one percent earlier,” he said.
To improve the quality of education is the next challenge, the minister added.
Education 2014 Failures, vandalism eclipse successes