Classrooms falling apart

Shahin Akhter | Published: 00:00, Dec 14,2018 | Updated: 19:02, Dec 18,2018

 
 

A girl writes on the blackboard at a school. — Indrajit Kumer Ghosh

Classrooms, especially the age-old teacher-student relationship that would once mould the minds of millions, have now morphed into a mechanised sphere driven by a spirit that drives commercial transactions, observe a cross-section of people.
Absence of respectful and hearty relationship between the teachers and the students, huge pressure on the students for the highest score, result-oriented learning system and coaching centres run by the teachers are, they find, what have brought about these disastrous changes.
Earlier, the teachers would come to this profession with the great aim of bringing out the latent talents of the students who would later be leading the nation and what they would then expect in exchange was not money but respect and dignity.
But these days, money making in the guise of teaching has knocked out the pursuit of respect, rendering education into a commodity selling at high prices.
Amid a huge lack of moral and ethical lessons, the students are now growing not giving much of their time to think about society and nation and work collectively for solving the problems around them.
As teachers are busier with their coaching centres, they are not giving much time and energy to classroom teaching, which is why they are given the job.
These teachers are often indifferent to the self-esteem of the students and treat them in a rude way, which force the students to take extreme ways like suicide.
The parents too, unlike in the past, are only chasing after their children’s results, instead of making them educated.
Teachers, educational institutes and the government are also no different from the parents as ‘GPA 5’ has been set as the highest achievement.
This sick competition of teachers, students and parents has changed the situation in classroom where everyone is after one’s own purpose other than education.
The students overwhelmed by a huge pressure of textbooks and guidebooks are becoming more introverted for lack of attention from parents, extra-curricular activities and playgrounds.
Parents, however, are complaining about the falling quality of education, especially in government primary schools, as teachers there are not equipped enough to impart knowledge properly.
As teachers, students and parents are parts of this decayed society, where absolute deterioration of moral values has been taken place, they cannot play their expected roles.
Now, unfortunately, teachers are not their role models.
All these are linked to the overall unrest and global context where education has become only a product.
Dhaka University’s Institute of Education and Research former professor Quazi Afroz Jahanara says that the situation in classroom changed entirely in the recent years.
She, currently working as a chancellor’s nominee in the academic planning committee and academic council of Bangladesh Open University, observes that earlier the teachers would work as both educators and facilitators who guided the students even with emotional supports.
‘My younger son who studied in a primary school named Little Jewels used to follow the teaching methods of his teachers,’ she says.
She points out that currently the students are overwhelmed by a huge study pressure while they do not have time for any extra-curricular activities.
‘At the educational institutes, facilities for extra-curricular activities and sports are absent, which is not right,’ she notes.
Besides educational facilities, these facilities are also necessary for social and metal growth of the students, she observes.
‘A big problem is that many teachers are now not interested to teach students in classrooms after long hours spent in coaching centres,’ she says, adding that the teachers even ask their students to go for coaching for better learning.
The teachers were committed to teaching in the past while currently this commitment is severely lacking, she laments.
‘How a teacher will become a role model to his or her students if s/he takes coaching classes,’ she wonders.
Quazi Afroz Jahanara suggests that there should be a research into why the primary school teachers are failing to improve the quality of teaching as most of them are now have master’s degree and have got much training.
Moreover, she says, the parents also do not pass quality time with their children as everyone is busy with one’s own life.
She links all these problems to the overall social unrest.
Dhaka University psychology department professor (preparing for retirement) Azizur Rahman recalls that in the 1960s and the 1970s the teachers would come to this profession with love, passion and a mission of building the future generation.
‘At that time teachers would think that if they could teach their students perfectly, they would become role model to the students and earn respects from parents and society,’ he says.
That was their main place of satisfaction and peace, he adds.
The teachers were teaching students about society’s wellbeing and this teaching would induce the students to think about ethics and morality, loving each other and respecting others, he explains.
Now, however, the context of society has been changed and people have become asocial following disappearance of all soft feelings, he adds.
He says teachers were now running from one educational institute to another one to get more classes and cashes.
In the same way, the students also are showing more interest in earning money instead of gaining knowledge, he says.
‘There is no presence of morality and social values in society as absolute deterioration of social values has taken place,’ he regrets, adding that it was a part of global context.
‘In this circumstance, we cannot expect teachers to teach morality in classrooms as they are also part of this decayed and dirty society,’ he adds.
Society is now controlled by the rich and the businesspeople and changes have to come across the world to improve this situation, he says.
Former caretaker government adviser and Campaign for Popular Education executive director Rasheda K Choudhury claims that the time following the country’s independence was the golden age of teacher-student relationship in the mainstream education.
‘Our parents did not have to be anxious about our education once we were sent to schools for becoming a complete person. There was no question of teaching us at home after the school hours,’ she recalls.
The number of students was overwhelming also at that time in terms of teacher-student ratio but the teachers would know the students individually, which is currently absent, she says.
‘Teachers were then another type of parents as they ruled us and at the same time also loved us,’ Rasheda K Choudhury notes.
The education system is currently examination-based as examinations have become the only determining factor and everyone only wants GPA 5, she says.
The students now become exhausted as they have to participate in different examinations round the year without any respite, she adds.
‘In this chaotic situation, the teachers or the students do not get time to improve their relationship,’ she says.
It needs a lot of money to get children admitted in educational institutes and teachers are more attentive to their coaching centres instead of classrooms while the authorities have failed to control the situation, she observes.
At present about 95 per cent secondary educational institutes are being operated under private management, which is an indicator of higher educational cost, the expert says.
A Campe report, published last year, shows that about 70 per cent students do not consider their teachers as their role model while about 50 per cent teachers do not consider themselves as role models for the students.
Citing the suicide of Viqanunnisa Noon School’s Class IX student Aritri Adhikari, she says that it is natural for the students to commit mistakes.
‘But it does not mean that the teachers will humiliate the students and their parents in public,’ she says.
Following this sick competition, she finds, trend of committing suicide has also increased among the students.
Rukhsana Mily, a guardian of two school-going children, says that as a child she had studied in government primary school but currently the quality of education in these schools has severely deteriorated.
She alleges that outside the capital in many places the government primary school teachers are not familiar with the new creative question system.
‘The parents have become very much result-oriented these days and that is the main problem,’ she finds.
Recalling her childhood, she says that her parents never forced her for getting good marks in the examinations but now all guardians are only chasing after the highest score.
‘We guardians have to understand that gaining knowledge is the most important thing, not the numbers,’ she said.
At first the parents, then the teachers and lastly the educational institutes are responsible for improving the situation, she suggests, putting emphasis also on the collective efforts of all.

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