Tanjina Yasmin Chowdhury
Former Research Fellow, Kyushu University
Honorable Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid Sir !
If by an act of God, this write up falls under your kind notice and in your busy schedule, if you can leaf through it in totality, I will feel honored.
By the Grace of the Almighty, after completing my education in the old system from a traditional govt. school and university, run with the taxpayer’s money from a developing third world country, I am working and researching in a developed country now. I have understood the reasons behind their success in development a little and trying to study it very intensely. When I see anything good happening, like many other non-resident Bangladeshis, it dwindles in my mind as to why not deploy the same or at least give it a try in our country. From that feeling I am writing you that.
There goes a proverb that education is the backbone of a nation. But, education is not confined in the text books only. For the development of a country, there are some basic yardsticks. Like: honesty, discipline and respect for law; with which everyone grows up.
But I am afraid; starting the school with admission test nightmare for the best school, lagging behind in class performance from the first boy. I was lagged behind even financially, who didn’t want to fall in the eyes of his teacher. No, I did home work regularly. But the reason was my unpaid dues. And thousands of such symptoms nipped my tender feelings in the bud. I myself, even my sons, started schooling with such experience. Hence, both the experiences are pretty much first hand and urge was built in me, not borrowed from some newspapers.
There are many examples of developed education system in the developed first world countries. From my experience, I, myself is setting up an example in the country that I live in, which looks very simple and really very effective in making an honest and complete man as I feel.
Let me start with the examination system, which is a like a bit of disgusting for our children. In Japan, high school (in class 10) entrance exam is the very first exam.
By first exam, I mean it is not only the first competition or board exam; it is also the first annual/half yearly exam , say, promotional exam.
Before that, there is no such exam in the primary (class I-class VI) level. Children in the school, sings a chorus song which may be narrated in Bengali “Every child is a flower, unique in itself. While a rose cannot be compared with a Jasmine, similarly a marigold cannot also be compared with a water Lilly. So let the rose bloom its own way and water Lilly be bloomed its own way. Let’s help every child blossom the best with its own characteristics”.
Etiquette, social norms, abiding by the law, wiping and cleaning the room, toilet cleaning, field-gym cleaning, cooking, stitching, woodwork, coloring of flower vase, as well as, piano, flute, basketball, football- everything is being taught, parallel with the school class.
The first day I took my sons to a primary school, I was simply dumbfounded to see a class –I (6 years’ age) boy wiping the corridor with a cold damp piece of cloth during January’s snowfall time! I was more surprised to realize the fact that my own sons certainly doing the same chores that even I didn’t do back home. But they never felt like complaining about it in the house. That’s why it is said that a bamboo should be bent in the tender age. So I earnestly hope, if their system is introduced in every school in Bangladesh; children there will perform these jobs just like my children, considering it as a responsibility.
Lot of people got to know from the newspapers about the hungry and cold children of Fukushima, Tokyo; detached from their families, standing in the queues all alone with patience and honesty in the disaster shelters during the Tsunami of 2011. Shopping malls were lying vacant. In such a situation there might be a large scale of looting in the western worlds. But all the shops of Fukushima, Tokyo remained intact and untouched even people were thriving for food there.
Here, I need to mention about the toilet cleaning process by the children- s/he has to clean every nook and corner of the urinal or commode with old toothbrush, so that when he grows up he never leaves the toilet without cleaning it properly. They do these jobs under the supervision of their class teachers. The teacher will see if everything is being done properly but he will not himself lend his hand on it. The reason is, that will reduce the self-confidence in the child.
During the Tiffin period in a roaster, children will fetch big trolleys from kitchen to the classroom, distribute it, and after eating they will clean the classroom. Then they will take back the trolleys to kitchen. Lunch menus are set as per the diet chart according to the balanced diet for different ages.
In junior high school (Sixth to Ninth class), between every three months there will be a class test. Passing or failing doesn’t matter in it. Report card will go to the children’s home and the guardian will decide whether to send him for special coaching class (Juko) or sit for a re-exam for improvement.
All the primary school (1st-6th Grade) and all the junior high schools (7th to 9th Grade) are of the same standard. Child of a particular area is bound to study in the school of that area and that has to be within 20/25 minutes walking distance. Because during junior high school, going to the school on foot is compulsory!
So, like our country, a child coming from Uttara does not need to sit for 2 hours in a traffic jam to go to his school. Even a small English medium school doesn’t need to face the traffic jam created by 100 cars for 100 students. As a result of this system they don’t have to face any urge to get chance in the best school and for that, starting coaching. They don’t have a blame of passing or failing.
In our country, all the places are not safe for a child to walk to the school. Hence, this can be solved by introducing school bus or van rickshaw. Since the route will be confined to a small area, the kid doesn’t need to get up at an unearthly hour in the morning to catch the bus. Parents won’t have to start the day by suffering the tension whether the driver comes in time or not.
Student’s merit will be judged in their own junior school, before sitting for the admission test for the high school. Officer from education ministry will only come to supervise. On the basis of the result of test, officers will decide in which 2 schools this student can get a chance. Initially they will sit for test in one govt. and one private school. If they fail, another 2 schools will be there. That means, the student will get chance for admission through the tests in these 4 schools. Ministry will ensure that the teacher’s judgment is fully correct.
The same rule applies in case of university admission. Teachers and officers of education ministry will decide where their students are capable of getting admitted. In the same way, 2 universities at the first time and then 2 more lately. Lot of students will sit for re-examination next year if they are not satisfied with the judgment.
Which means, they don’t have to face the tremendous hazard of collecting forms from all the universities of Bangladesh and roam around here and there for admission exams.
There will be small houses, lines of colony patterned houses to save space. But there will be parks after parks and fields after fields in school. To make the physical stature of the students, as fatless flat stomach and without lethargy, physical exercise and such other programs are maintained. They maintain this routine till they become hundred years’ old, because it is built in their system.
In the annual sports competition, students are divided in 4 groups. Everyone must participate. But in every event, the winner or loser is decided on group performance. A student cannot be pointed out to be good or bad on the basis of this. Thus their team work blooms from their early ages. So that in the real world, everyone will help the weak ones for the sake of their team, thinking of the ways to improve him.
In the film “The Last Samurai” US Captain Algren says, “From the moment they wake, they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline.”
I am not suggesting that our education system should be like the perfectionist Japanese. I have already said earlier that such system is prevalent in the developed countries for a long time. So my earnest desire is that, if our policy makers could take up such a program, we could groom our child to grow for the future generation.
Sir, honestly speaking, when initially GSC, PSC exams started, I was exceedingly excited. Because in our country certain jobs require certificates of passing class five and class Eight as the minimum educational qualification. Earlier, people used to buy these certificates, though they were absolutely illiterate. That fraudulent system was closed and as such it was a very appropriate step!
Within a few years my depressions became doubled by the knowing that, like the board exams and job exams, the PSC question papers were out! I was totally speechless to hear that some teachers/parents involved themselves collecting & circulating these question papers for their wards. Answer sheets were distributed and children were captured sitting in a roundtable all together to write the answers.
A full generation is becoming meritless to “Uphold the image” of the teachers and parents. Everyone wants the same “keep my head high”. To keep the head high they are ready for any illegal means, though this pulls their head down in reality! Everybody sees the result! But merit? Acquiring knowledge? All are useless! I wonder what is in the mind of today’s children! What is really working in their mind! Confined in a flat, engrossed in computer and cartoon, indoor games without ground, growing like a chicken in the poultry firm and answering to a exposed question paper- what do they really feel! Whereas they don’t have time for relaxing or testing their merit in any other co-curriculum though they appear at the exam of which the question paper was already out. Their whole school life ends like a jockey, bound in the horse’s stomach in an inhuman race, to win in the exam war, coaching, tutor, creative questions, objective questions etc.
Let the song sung by Renaissance be played “We want a well groomed garden for the boy born today.”
Great people are writing. My highly respected Zafar Sir (Dr. Md. Zafar Iqbal) is steadfast in his efforts. We are waiting for something really good to happen. You must break this bondage, sir! My heartfelt thanks and profound respect for you to make time for reading this article.