The recent decision which has been flashed in different news media that the government is going to nationalize 199 colleges has sparked mixed feelings across the country. The teachers who have got the good news are doing pleasant processions and the deprived ones chant slogans to get them included in the nationalization list. When an educational institution is declared to have been nationalized it means the whole responsibility of that institution is going to be taken by the state and it brings a broad smile to all those who belong to that institution. It also gives another signal of depriving thousands of educational institutions of the country in general and those of surrounding areas in particular. When giving education to the citizens of the state is the solemn duty of the government, there is no sensible reason to choose some particular educational institutions to be nationalised. If it is done, a discrimination will further develop in the field of education which already sees disparity and discrimination. There is no valid reason why some institutions and their teachers and students will enjoy the state benefit such as nationalization of jobs and the students will have to pay a nominal tuition fee. The father of the nation sensed this problem and nationalized 37000 primary schools in 1973 at a time when the national economy was standing on a weaker footing. The real leader like decision was taken by him who clearly understood that the initial base of education must be made stronger which necessitates direct government caring and supervision. If teachers would have to think of their hungry stomach, they would not be able to dedicate to teaching.
After 1973, nationalization of educational institutions particularly secondary schools and colleges did not see any reasonable process. It witnessed either whimsical decision or political biasness. As a result, no uniform decision did happen and a serious discrimination has unfolded. Some powerful ministers used to visit their own constituencies and declared the college of their areas government. The subsequent governments also followed the same path. Thus the nationalization policy could not stand on any solid basis. But the nationalization of all the educational institutions has been a long overdue. We came to learn from newspaper news that the prime minister showed interest to learn the expenditure of nationalizing five lakh MPO teachers and the recently retired education secretary Nazrul Islam Khan provided her the information. After his retirement we did not learn more about it. Very recently we have learnt that the government is going to nationalize 199 colleges out of 325 in the list. It has given rise to many questions. Why 325 colleges in the list? Why only 199 colleges to be nationalized? Why not secondary schools? Why not nationalization of all the educational institutions? If the national economy does not permeate to nationalize all the institutions at a time, the money which will be spent for nationalizing a particular number of colleges should be distributed among all the educational institutions to bring about a uniformity in this field.
The tuition fee of the students of government schools and colleges is still nominal which calls for revision. The present practice means the students belonging to government institutions are lucky enough for no special reason and the students who study in non-government schools and colleges are the victims of circumstances as they have to pay several times higher tuition fee than that of the government institutions . There lies no valid reason behind it. Just disparity and discrimination unfolds through this system which must not be entertained any more. Our sixty percent primary schools are government and only three percent secondary schools are government. Without taking any reasonable decision regarding primary and secondary schools, a news is buzzing in the air that 199 colleges are going to be nationalized. What about the secondary educational institutions? What about the rest of the primary schools? Primary education still witnesses a haphazard state.
The primary and secondary levels wait to see the implementation of 2010 education policy which says primary education will be up to class eight and secondary till twelve grade. Things have proved that we are far behind implementing this decision. In the midst of this dilemma we are hearing about nationalizing colleges. We have schools and colleges which are known as collegiate school, intermediate colleges, degree colleges, honours colleges and the designation of the teachers are lecturer, assistant professor and associate professor. But in some collegiate schools, teachers’ designations are assistant teacher, senior teacher though they have master’s degree, lecturer and assistant professors. There are many famous colleges which are schools and colleges at the same time such as cadet colleges, Rajuk College, Residential Model, BJMC, BTMC, BCIC, cantonment schools and colleges. The discipline and academic atmosphere of these institutions are different from government and other educational institutions. To retain the academically better teachers these institutions promote the teachers to assistant professor, associate professor which the education boards and ministry don’t agree fully as there lies not provision of these posts in these collegiate schools. After the nationalization of colleges of four kinds (school and college, intermediate, degree, honours) what will be the positions of assistant and associate professors? How the length of service of the teachers of different categories will be counted is not clear. If has created another problem among the colleges already got the message to be nationalized.
It is learnt that a silent clash between the cadre and nationalized teachers prevails. The cadre teachers think themselves to be superior to those of non-cadre teachers. They have different organza ions, different beliefs, and different opinions but live under the same roof. They spend time on the movement of establishing their superiority. Actually, both groups should take interest and dedicate their time and energy to better the situation of education, for the betterment of students and institutions. No such effort to narrow this gap is discerned. The teachers who have been teaching for long in non-government colleges have gained much experience and skill. Again, it is also true who been recruited through BCS have some other skills as they are the productions of modern age. Both the groups should honour each other and the government must include all the teachers in the teaching profession after a professional test. If it is done, this kind of clash will gradually disappear. In terms of promotion, there must be a uniform rule.
Some institutions promote their teachers from lecture to assistant professor and from assistant professor to associate professor according to their will and desire to retain the brighter candidates and to retain the prestige of their institutions. No national standard is followed. As a result, some teachers become assistant professor in four years whereas many institutions cannot promote their teachers even in ten years or more. To promote the teachers from the position of lecturer to assistant or assistant to associate professor along with their working performance, academic performance, their creativity and contribution to education and the number of research publications must be taken into account. These positions must have a unique and uniform standard across the country irrespective of their affiliation to institutions. i.e. an assistant professor must fulfill the same criteria to become an assistant professor whatever institution he/she belongs to. Now we see a serious mess here. An associate professor of Government College does not need any publication to occupy the position. An associate professor of Rajuk College may not have to acquire the same length of service as that of a cadet college or other type of collegiate school. The same position must enjoy equal status irrespective of their affiliation to institutions and must fulfill the same criteria to get promotion to the next higher position. In the present practice no associate professor except government colleges can occupy any administrative position in the Education Boards or DSHE (Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education) as they are not recognized duly. This discrimination must be minimized in the greater interest of the nation.
(Masum Billah works in BRAC Education Program as an specialist and writes regularly on various national and international issues)