THE rural-urban differences in education, which are primarily thought to have stemmed from an unbalanced government focus on education policies regarding resource allocation and educational expansion, continue to exist. In this year’s higher secondary public examinations, as the results published on Wednesday show, institutions in urban areas performed better than their counterparts in rural areas. The results, which show the combined pass rate of 73.93 and the total number of GPA 5 achievers of 47,286 in 10 education boards — eight general education, one madrassah education and one technical education, suggest that most of the institutions having less than a half of the examinees coming out successful, are located in rural areas. The results of the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Dhaka, which had 1,238 institutions taking part in the examinations, well illustrate the proposition. The highest pass rate of 86.48 involved institutions located in the capital city while the percentage is 59.99 in the Dhaka district, 70.65 in Gazipur, 73.15 in Narayanganj and 78.5 in Narsingdi and the lowest pass rate of 52.07 involved institutions in Rajbari, 54.93 in Faridpur and 58.98 in Madaripur — all under the Dhaka education board. The more outlying the areas are the lower is the pass percentage.
While similar could be the cases, understandably, with other education boards, the Dhaka board’s chair is reported to have viewed the board’s performance based on rural and urban areas — with the capital city and the districts of Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Narsingdi comprising one area, which appears to be urban, and the districts of Rajbari, Madaripr and Faridpur comprising the other area, which appears to be rural. And the board’s chair means to say that, as New Age reported on Thursday, poor results of the area of three districts have brought down the overall performance of the board although the results of the area of the capital city and four districts are better. The way the board chair views the performance is reflective of the government’s divisive views on education policies that have kept the rural-urban differences in education going for ages. Although the board’s chair says that the differences are gradually narrowing, he seeks to say that the rural-urban differences will remain as institutions in rural areas are mired in shortage of facilities for students. Educational institutions in rural areas, in effect, continue to face various problems such as resource constraints, scarcity of competent teachers, teacher absenteeism, poor classroom teaching, non-availability of quality teaching materials and, last but not least, relative poverty that holds back guardians from affording students the required facilities. Managers of national education should, therefore, immediately attend to such problems that educational institutions in rural areas face to meaningfully address educational inequality.
The government has made a noticeable improvement in educational expansion, in terms of the number of institutions and physical infrastructure, although a lot more needs to be done, and a significant improvement in enrolment of students, more at primary and secondary levels. It is also working to improve the dropout situation although the rate remains worrying in outlying areas. Yet the government seems to be inattentive to the identification of student obstacles and their removal which is one of the two objective metrics of evaluating a nation’s educational attainment, the other other being the enrolment rate. The government must ensure that all learners have access to quality education if the right to education for all is to become a reality.
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