The worst thing has happened in the JSC examination this year (2016). Bengali first paper question has been copied directly from a guide book. Out of nine essay type questions eight have been directly taken along with their four connected questions from the guide and one question is taken from other source. Actually, it was also taken from the guide and the moderator has changed it slightly. In MCQ part out of 40 questions 21 have been taken directly from the guide and the rest have been repeated from the questions papers from the questions of 2013 and 2014 of Barisal and Dhaka Boards respectively. The students have been deprived of quality education as the teachers are confused over the creative question system and yet to familiarize with it themselves. According to sources, half of the educational institutions are unable to prepare the question papers as per the creative system, because 50 percent of the teachers have not yet received any training in this system. This claim also does not say the actual truth. I am at one with the Regional Director- Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, Chittagong who says 99 percent teachers don’t have transparent idea about how to develop creative questions. He seems to be right as the board question setters have copied questions from guide books available in the market.Now the serious questions arise? Why do the teachers pick questions directly from the guide books? The answer must be -they do so only when they fail to do develop questions by themselves. The teachers who develop board questions usually belong to better and famous educational institutions. When the teachers of these schools take questions directly from the guide books what these teachers teach in the classroom and how they deal with creative questions and their internal examinations? These are the cases of better and famous schools and better teachers. What about the situation of rural areas? Thousands of schools beyond urban areas just fumble in the darkness. They neither have clear idea about creative questions nor can they develop questions. Teachers cannot develop stems of creative questions. Now we should think how we can develop creative questions without stems. The current creative system of questions are actually framed questions or guided question, not fully creative in the reals sense of the term. When students and teachers fail to grasp this system which has been proved many a time since its introduction, we should not waste time at the cost of spreading sore/wound in the field of education.
The worst thing is, the teachers of rural areas who themselves fumble in the darkness to grasp creative questions examine the board answer scripts. Why? The teachers of better and famous schools don’t check the scripts of boards as the remuneration is poor. But the teachers must examine the board scripts as it is a significant part of their professional work and development. How to assess the students scripts, how to face the answer scripts of various sorts of students and becoming familiar with the performance of the students of different parts of the country give them ample scope to conduct research but some good teachers don’t give any importance to this point which is a pity. Their commercial attitude does not allow them to check board scripts hampering their private tuition and similar kind of business. Recently, the ministry has urged these teachers to examine the scripts of board so that evaluation system can see a standard form which we appreciate.
The rural teachers who cannot develop creative questions and take examinations buying questions from the market examine the board scripts. As a result, serious mismatch takes place in the overall evaluation system. Whatever the students write in the board scripts examiners give them marks as they themselves don’t know or have transparent idea about creative system. Those who are supposed to obtain ‘C’ grade even get ‘A’ grade and the opposite happens. In the third and fourth parts of creative questions of application and higher level thinking parts they give full marks even if students write ‘national anthem’ or just copy the given ‘stem’. These are the peculiar experiences of present day creative system. The ministry of education seems not to bother about these issues. The ministry just arranges workshop which can be said just ‘pleasant trip’ in Cox’s Bazar for the privileged people. Whereas the evaluation system is going to dogs. As we belong to education field and think of education, write on education I feel constrained to express my ideas and thoughts regarding the issue.
Bringing about a basic change in secondary and higher secondary education system, creative question method was introduced eight years ago, but the teachers have not yet been able to fully familiarize with it themselves. They have not also acquired the skill of preparing question papers and evaluating the answer scripts yet and this year’s public examination proves it amply. Still many of the teachers have not received proper training on the creative system. Consequently, the teachers are failing to impart lesson to the students properly and a generation of learners are being deprived of quality education. They have to depend on mostly coaching or note-guides available in the market. As a result, even after getting GPA-5 in the higher secondary education, the students are failing en masse in the university admission tests.
Recently, a private television channel aired a report based on interviews with the GPA-5 holders in SSC examinations. In it a number of GPA-5 holders failed to explain what GPA-5 meant. Even some of them could not answer properly the questions the location of the Jatiya Smriti Soudha, the name of the president of the country and the composer of the National Anthem. Asked about this, the former chairman of PSC and ex-education secretary Dr Sadat Hossain said, “The nation is watching now with concern a totally shattered education system. The quality of education has nosedived to the lowest ebb. The worst disaster has been caused to our evaluation method and examination system. We have turned the examinations into a farce by enforcing partly the foreign system without understanding it. Students are passing examinations and getting ‘A plus’ without pursuing studies. Now it is noticed that the ‘A grade’ holders do not have the minimum quality to even pass the examinations. In the higher class admission tests, they get zero to 10 marks. In the admission test of a department at the Dhaka University only two per cent candidates came out successful.” These are the serious indications that the quality of education is sliding into decline. General Secretary of Guardian Coordination Council Nipa Sultana said, “Creative system is not bad, but it is not being enforced properly. Even the teachers have not yet been able to understand it and they are failing to provide lessons properly. As a result, the students are falling victims to irreparable losses.”
Now the ministry of education should arrange a fruitful national convention to be participated in by the real educators, teachers, researchers, thinkers, writers, guardians and students. We think the ministry cannot afford to hold meetings, seminar or ‘pleasure trip’ like meeting to be attended by the bureaucrats, ministry people or very selective elites to bring about changes in this regard.
(Masum Billah works for BRAC Education as an education specialist and formerly worked in Sylhet, Comilla and Mirzapur Cadet College and Rajuk Uttara Model College, Dhaka.)