Nat'l Education Day Textbook Should Have Environment Context
Prof. Dr. Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder
Like other countries in the world, all educational institutions in Bangladesh remain closed since March 18, 2020 as a strategy to protect students from the deadly attack of coronavirus. During this long hiatus, the entire education system is facing difficulties. Schools, colleges and universities are currently operating all over the world in various temporary ways using virtual platforms. But questions have been raised about online learning and its effectiveness. After being closed for almost two months, Bangladesh government has decided to reopen all offices-courts, factories and public transport from May 31 on the condition of complying with health rules and ensuring social distance. Now the most talked about issue at various levels is, when will the situation improve to reopening of educational institutions? In such a situation, "National Education Day" is being celebrated all over the country on 16th September.
Dictator Ayub Khan on 30 December 1958 formed an education commission called the Sharif Commission under the leadership of SM Sharif. The report on education proposed by the Education Commission on 26 August 1959 was in favor of education contraction.The proposed report said that the misconception that education can be obtained cheaply should be abandoned. The report, which is divided into 27 chapters with proposals to increase students' tuition fees in secondary and higher education, makes detailed recommendations on general, vocational education, teacher context, and medium of instruction, textbooks, font problems, administration, funding, education goals and objectives from primary to higher levels. However, Ayub Khan's education contraction policy framework, education is divided into three levels --- primary, secondary and higher. It is proposed to have 5 years primary, 6 years secondary and 3 years higher degree courses and 2 years postgraduate courses. The pass marks are considered as 50 per cent, 60 per cent for the second class and 70 per cent for the first class as a means of preservation of higher education for the affluent class.
The commission proposed to establish full government control instead of autonomy in universities, ban politics in colleges and universities, keep a close watch on the activities of students and teachers, and provide 15 hours hard work for teachers. Ayub government accepted the recommendations of this report and started implementing it from 1962. Various student organizations, including student unions, took a stand against Ayub's education policy. They formed small scale movements with various student organizations in 1959, 1960 and 1961 with an aim of building a stronghold.
A nationwide hartal was observed on 17 September 1962 under the leadership of Chhatra Sangram Parishad. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. According to the government alone, 59 people were arrested, 73 were injured and 3 were martyred. On that day, not only in Dhaka, but all over the country, the police attacked the procession. Wajiullah, Ghulam Mustafa, Ratul and many other men were martyred while fighting for fair and equal justice in education against the Pakistani regime of exploitation and policy of restriction of education. Since then, 16 September has been celebrated as National Education Day in Bangladesh in memory of the martyrs. That movement of 1962 still inspires the students of this country. More recently, we have seen the anti-VAT movement of private university students and the protest participation of students in the road safety movement of school children.
National Education Day is now observed every year across the country to ensure fair education for all. Movement for fair and equal right in education in 1962 has made it possible today to gain a commendable success in achieving gender equality in education. Almost 100% of girls are now going to school. The government has ensured that there is a need for a school environment for girls. Eighty percent female teachers are being recruited for primary school teaching. Bangladesh ranks 1s tin Southeast Asia in terms of women's participation in primary and secondary education.
According to the latest report of UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in 2016, the literacy rate in Bangladesh has increased by 26.10 percent in the last 10 years and reached a record level of 72.8 percent. According to the Ministry of Education, the government has been implementing various projects since 2009 with the aim of enhancing skills and developing human resources. The government is working relentlessly to solve the problems in the education sector. Not only general education but also information technology education has improved a lot.
Given the current state of the environment in the world, we need to focus on the environmental education to avoid the impact on the economy. There is no substitute for education in the development of individual and national life.
(Professor Kamruzzaman Majumder is Dean, Faculty of Science, Chairman, Department of Environmental Science, Stamford University Bangladesh.