THE government’s insincerity about many of the pledges, required to improve the education sector, that the ruling Awami League made in its election manifesto before the 2008 national elections, and renewed before the 2014 elections, keeps plaguing the educational scene as they have not been kept even in about a decade. The National Education Policy 2010 is yet to be fully implemented. The ruling party in its two consecutive tenures have failed to set up a permanent national education commission, and a pay commission and a services commission for teachers. It has also failed to keep campuses of educational institutions free of hooliganism and politicisation. It has not been able to address the problem of prolonged academic life in universities. It has trodden back on the extension of free, compulsory primary schooling up to Class VIII. The government’s failure in the eradication of illiteracy, meant to have been effected by 2014, has also kept more than a quarter of the population illiterate. Although the government in all these days have kept some of the pledges about the education sector, the failure to keep the pledges, which weighs more than the pledges kept, has had little impact on the improvement of education.
As the government has failed to institute a separate pay commission and a separate pay scale, teachers, more in non-government institutions, have for long been struggling to manage their living, which also forces them to seek out other ways to earn some money, harming teaching. This has also created a discrimination because of a gap in the salaries of head teachers and assistant teachers. The National Education Policy could not be implemented as some essential elements, such as the passage of an education law for the policy implementation, has yet to be done. A permanent education commission and a separate services commission for teachers still not being set up has held back the process of providing educational institutions with the required number of teachers, hampering teaching and its quality. With many leaving the job and retiring, as the day rolls on, teacher shortage has become acute in some cases. While the ruling party’s student wing became engaged in clashes on campuses repeatedly, regarding supremacy of the factions, for about a decade, a congenial academic atmosphere could not be ensured. The 2014 election manifesto promised an extension of primary education up to Class VII, which would be free and compulsory. The government in May 2016 announced the extension but then revoked it in about two months. The minister concerned seeks to say that the process has still been experimental.
The government’s initiative for the inclusion of some schools and teachers in the monthly pay order scheme and the introduction of maternity leave for six months in non-government institutions has almost been overshadowed by its failures to keep the pledges. The failures have come to a pass that they now reek of the government’s insincerity, which lends credence to the perception that all the promises had some political agenda and were meant only to woo voters, not to bring about any meaningful change in education.