Savar Government College’s Department of Botany head, Associate Professor Dr AKM Sayeed Hassan, was recently selected as the best college teacher in the National Education Week 2022 competition organised by the Ministry of Education. The Business Standard spoke to him about his views on the state of education in the country

06 July, 2022, 12:10 pm

Last modified: 06 July, 2022, 03:49 pm

While the government has promised to form a separate pay scale for the teachers, it is yet to be realised. Photo: Mumit M

While the government has promised to form a separate pay scale for the teachers, it is yet to be realised. Photo: Mumit M

While the government has promised to form a separate pay scale for the teachers, it is yet to be realised. Photo: Mumit M

Teachers have returned to physical classroom activities after a prolonged pandemic. What are the changes you, as a teacher, see in the post-pandemic classroom?           

In the pre-pandemic classroom, every student did not have a smartphone. We conducted online classes because of the pandemic, so pupils, even ones from low-income families, got smartphones.

Now, most students in the classroom carry smartphones and have become addicted to this gadget. They are not attentive in class and hardly show interest in reading books.

Although there is a restriction on bringing smartphones into the classroom, students don’t care about the consequences. They are not regular with homework. They are only interested in submitting assignment papers like they did during the pandemic. If this trend continues, it will continue to erode their sense of morality.

To reverse this alarming trend, everybody, including the government, educational institutions, teachers and parents, has to play their due role.

A teacher has been killed by his student at your neighbouring college. Teachers often complain these days that students don’t show them enough respect. What are the reasons behind such decline in their morality and behaviour?

I think the erosion of our social structures and norms is the leading cause of this moral decay. The loss of community also has a hand in this.

Students are not the only ones responsible for this situation; teachers cannot avoid their liabilities either. The state machinery, political parties and families of the students are also responsible.

The ideal environment for education in classrooms does not exist anymore. Politics has ruined the environment. It is concerning that the student community, in general, is facing such a cultural crisis. A campus should have a vibrant cultural environment. But that has not been the case. 

Excessive use of the internet, especially social media, is also affecting our social bonds. 

In the National Education Policy 2010, the draft for an education law was prepared but was withdrawn upon receiving negative feedback. Do you think the policy can ensure the right to education and proper education governance, including financing principles?

The policy has not been appropriately implemented at the grassroots level. The implementation was badly hampered by the pandemic. And now, we need extra effort and special planning to address the setbacks.   

Bangladesh’s constitution set the goal of a uniform, mass-oriented, universal education, free and compulsory, as determined by law. How far is the country lagging behind this goal?  

Before the existing education policy, there were directives for a uniform education system in the Qudrat-i-Khuda Commission report. The commission recommended a three-tier education under a uniform system, namely secondary, higher secondary and higher education.

Dr AKM Sayeed Hassan. Sketch: TBS

Dr AKM Sayeed Hassan. Sketch: TBS

Dr AKM Sayeed Hassan. Sketch: TBS

However, I think the implementation of the uniform education system has been done suddenly. If the government implemented the system in phases, it would work.

The Primary Education Completion Examination should be held for eighth-graders, while the Junior School Certificate (JSC) exam should be held for college-level students. This system exists in our neighbouring countries.

There are criticisms of the creative questions in the exam. I do prefer this idea of creative question and answer. But this has not been appropriately materialised. The examiners and the teachers needed more training.

The persisting evaluation system forces students to take tuition at coaching centres. Why do classroom activities fail to support the students?     

I used to offer private tutoring but stopped doing so around five years ago.

Nowadays, a student’s dependency on coaching centres or private tuition starts from the beginning of their academic life, from class 1. This should not be the norm.

I think the evaluation system is not flawed. But the application of the system is faulty.

For example, the idea behind ‘creative questions’ is not bad, but students don’t get standard questionnaires. Exam papers set in the creative pattern still follow traditional methods. And the repetitiveness of questions undermines creativity.

According to our policies, the teacher-student ratio should be 1:40 in secondary and higher-secondary classrooms. But in practice, one teacher has to manage nearly a hundred students. Some teachers are forced to deliver lectures in front of more than a hundred students.

Teachers cannot deliver their lectures effectively or maintain order. And in turn, the students cannot grasp their lecture material properly. 

There is a presumption that low compensation of the teachers often forces them to take coaching classes as an alternative means of earning. Do you agree?  

The incumbent government promised to form a separate pay scale for the teachers. But that promise has not been realised yet.

The Prime Minister announced the nationalisation of 324 new colleges. Gazettes were issued in this regard. But teachers of only one college have been brought under the government’s ambit. The Savar College, where I work, is also on the list, but we have not been assimilated.

Someday all the listed colleges will be nationalised and teachers assimilated. But the delay is affecting the teachers mentally. This is another thing that is hampering the teaching process.

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