Ensuring quality education for children remains key to our future progress

Published : Tuesday, 17 January, 2023 at 12:00 AM

Taking good care of children can lead to long-term economic growth and social prosperity. We must ensure that children’s growth receives the right attention for the development of a nation.In ensuring that people have access to education, we have done well. However, we haven’t yet been able to reach all demographic groups with high-quality education. Providing quality education is without a doubt today’s most difficult problem in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is quickly approaching middle income status through participating in this global growth process. Economic growth ensures fundamental human rights and a level of living that is consistent with education, health, and quality of life. However, social development�improvements in health, education, and quality of life�occurs only when practical measures are taken in the context of the nation’s unique socioeconomic circumstances.

Fundamentally, social development is the process of raising people’s standards of living through economic growth, while ensuring that involvement from all spheres of society is based on fairness and equality. As a result, in order to promote social inclusion and to stop the deterioration of social values, it is imperative to create chances for full participation for everyone, regardless of religion, gender, age, or disability.

Working with children is one of the keys to guaranteeing social development. The mind of a youngster can be molded into any ideal shape like clay. If the basis of sound reasoning and morals is laid early in life, it will later play a part in social interactions. High-performing nations in Asia like South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China have prioritized achieving universal literacy, healthcare reforms, and social changes.

The future economic trajectory of a nation is closely correlated with its per capita output or income as well as advancements in health and education, according to the United Nations Human Development Index. Thus education along with a sense of order and strong ties make them generous and responsible towards family, society and people.

Many citizens of our nation are currently denied socioeconomic benefits despite economic advancement. Families neglect children because they lack the necessary knowledge, awareness, or time. Children are occasionally implicated in criminal activity due to their excessive addiction to mobile devices or social networks that are tied to them. Every kid has the right to a high-quality education, which should focus on developing students’ moral, social, and intellectual capacities.

Our schools are lacking in skilled and qualified teachers. According to a poll, 37% of teachers in our nation used unapproved guidebooks, particularly when instructing creatively. In addition, secondary schools have a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:46, when the ideal ratio, according to education policy, is 1:30.

Adolescents make up about one-fourth of Bangladesh’s population, and their moral and skill development can have profound effects. The Bangladeshi government runs social security programs for kids, including giving them free books or educational scholarships. Despite the fact that our nation does not have enough of these programs, they have helped many people avoid child marriage, gain access to the best institutions for further education, recover from drug addiction, and live in less hostile communities.

It is still crucial to provide every child in the nation with a quality education. The fulfillment of the objective of universal enrollment at the primary level has been one significant success. Another noteworthy achievement was the reduction of the school dropout rate from 40% ten years ago to less than 18% now. The broad rise in public demand for education is another achievement. This indicates that there is now a significant need for education.

It is alarming how drastically diverse educational institutions are in terms of quality. Today, education is essentially a commodity. Additionally, there are a number of reasons why we are unable to deliver high-quality education. Our nation’s teachers are not of the required caliber. Every year, thousands of teachers are hired and delivered directly to the classrooms without any training. Most other nations do not experience this.

Another problematic aspect of Bangladeshi educational institutions is their governance. Political and economic interests are increasingly taking control of school management committees. Even after becoming a decision-maker of educational institutions, very few among the political class are ever interested in improving the quality of education. Moreover, we have infrastructural flaws as the students do not receive proper facilities at their schools especially, the public ones.

The Awami League government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, had plans to offer free books to secondary school students in addition to the scheme that was already in place for elementary school students after taking office in 2009. Since 2010, the ceremony has been held annually on January 1st, and books are distributed to children in grades 1 to 10. As a result, textbook distribution day is observed on the first day of the year.

This government endeavor is praised despite a number of issues with the educational system. Educationists also argue that open textbook access has contributed to higher education rates. However, giving students books of poor quality and inaccurate information disappoints us. Printing of textbooks becomes a major problem every year and this year, the situation was very pathetic.

As everyone is aware, the Russia-Ukraine war caused the price of paper to surge on the global market, creating worry regarding the timely supply of textbooks. However, we need to have planned for it. Every year, excessive delays in printing orders cause publishers to scramble to create books of low quality at the last minute.

The images of the errors that have been seen in textbooks and published in different media are really concerning. Many of these mistakes are repetitions of ones made under old curriculum. In other words, the incorrect teachings were already being taught to the students. Officials from the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) made an effort to counter that they were unable to evaluate the printed books’ quality because of a lack of time. However, no one will assert that earlier book printing was of high quality.

Additionally, the curriculum and exam policies are changing quickly, which is bad for our kids.Over the past few years, there have been far too many experiences. Stability is now needed. We must avoid making the kids feel that their education is a burden. Our children can do great things, and Bangladesh can advance with confidence if we can give them access to good books, good teachers, and a good atmosphere.

Our National Education Policy (NEP) 2010, the first one to be adopted by the Parliament since the liberation of Bangladesh, has provided pragmatic guidance and forward-looking recommendations like extending primary education to Grade VIII, creation of a Permanent Education Commission, introduction of only two public examinations  and decentralization of the education system. Unfortunately, we have not yet come up with a roadmap for implementation of this policy.

If we truly want to guarantee high-quality education for all students, we must have stronger political commitment, effective implementation plans for the NEP 2010, adequate funding, and wise, accountable resource management. We must guarantee a good teacher-student ratio, the quality of the teachers, the quality of the books, and the continuity of the educational program. Furthermore, given the situation in Bangladesh today, moral education must play a significant role in our curriculum.

If we do not properly raise our children, we will never be able to maintain the enormous development that we have experienced over the past decade thanks to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s inspirational leadership. Ensuring that these children have access to equal and high-quality educational opportunities is crucial to their development. We hope that our policymakers and other stakeholders would stop playing with the youngsters of our country for the sake of the future of the country. We think that if given the right opportunities and education, our kids could accomplish anything in the world of tomorrow.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Chief Patron, BangabandhuShishu Kishore Mela

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