Education in Bangladesh is always the debate and worry for lots of people. Parents are running from one school to the other year for their children’s admission. The government has taken many initiatives to subsidize education in the country. It is a crucial step for a developing country like Bangladesh to do so. Plus, educational objectives of the United Nations are being put into completion. Such objectives include Education for All and Millennium Development Goals.
In 2010, the reformulated National Education Policy takes point from Article 17 of the Constitution. From both these documents, education is both free and compulsory for children. The main objective is to make them active change-making citizens for Bangladesh.
Keeping this in mind, the choice of quality education remains a big question as we head into the future. Today, parents ask constant questions about choice of school and curriculum. So, let us see the school curriculum of Bangladesh to make a better choice.
The main education system in Bangladesh has three levels:
- Primary Level which is schooling from Class 1 to 8
- Secondary Level which are the final years of school and college education from Class 9 to 12
- Tertiary Level which is university education. (We have also discussed tertiary level education in Bangladesh. You can read it here)
However, there are other education systems in Bangladesh as well. These are:
- English Version
- English Medium
- Technical and Vocational
In a nutshell, the government directly controls all education systems except English Medium. They only supervise this one system while international organizations run it. Respective schools manage it by following guidelines set by these organizations and government.
So moving ahead, the different types education system in Bangladesh are as follows:
The Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME) is responsible for the management of education at primary level in the country. They are mostly involved in the creation of educational policies for this level. It is the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) who have the responsibility of implementing it. Today, education at the primary level has seen many reforms over the years. All of these have been in line with UN’s global agenda for education.
Education at the Primary Level begins from Class One, with the first “public” examination being held at the end of Class 5. This is known as Primary School Certificate Examination or PSC. After this exam is held, students are promoted to Class 6 from where they study for the Junior School Certificate Examination, or JSC until the end of Class 8.
In 2017, about 95.18% students have passed their PSC examination and this is indeed an achievement for the future success of the country. Although, recently, question paper leaks have been marring the reputation of such elite examinations of the country. Many educators are fearing that such acts will lead to reduced intelligence and aptitude of the future generation of this country.
The Secondary Level education or secondary education is jointly controlled by eight general education boards of the country. These include:
- Barisal Education Board for Barisal Division
- Chittagong Education Board for Chittagong Division
- Comilla Education Board for Comilla Division
- Dhaka Education Board for Dhaka Division and Mymensingh Division
- Dinajpur Education Board for Rangpur Division
- Jessore Education Board for Khulna Division
- Rajshahi Education Board for Rajshahi Division
- Sylhet Education Board for Sylhet Division
These boards are in control for conducting the public examinations at the secondary level that includes:
- Junior School Certificate Examination or JSC
- Secondary School Certificate Examination or SSC
- Higher Secondary School Certificate Examination or HSC
SSC examinations commence after finishing schooling of Class nine and ten. HSC examination commences after two years of studying in Class eleven and twelve. For non-government secondary schools, education at these levels are regulated by the School Management Committees. These committees follow government regulations and mobilize the available resources while approving budgets and controlling expenditures. However, on government-run secondary school, the headmaster is responsible for running and managing the school. The deputy director of the education board of the respective zone is responsible supervising and overseeing whether everything is running smoothly or not.
For the academic year of 2018-2019, an experts’ committee fully revised six of 12 books that are taught in Class nine and ten. These include mathematics, higher mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry and general science. Quality of education at these levels are maintained with high standard thanks to many initiatives taken by the government. Recently, the World Bank has planned to provide about $510 million in order to improve the education at secondary level. However, even when such measures are being taken, there are still leaks of question papers in these elite examinations too. Unfortunately, some particular groups are involved in doing this misdeed. This alarming provided that it will lead to the destruction of the backbone of this country.
There many English Medium schools in Bangladesh that have been operating since after the liberation war. The English medium curriculum consists of schooling from Play Group to Ordinary or O Levels. The O Levels is equivalent to SSC. A Levels or Advanced Level is equivalent to HSC. Schools that offer these examinations are following the General Certificate of Education (GCE) system of UK. The British Council is the representative of educational boards like Edexcel and Cambridge in the country. They are the elite body that conducts these examinations. The syllabus, curriculum, and examination are globally renowned and a standard.
Recently, some schools following the IB or International Baccalaureate curriculum are providing education in the country. Mainly children of foreigners residing in Bangladesh are studying in this curriculum. It must be mentioned that the syllabus for these examinations is changed after every five to seven years depending on the need. Examinations offered by the British Council take twice a year. In January examinations occur for Edexcel board, in May examinations occur for both Cambridge and Edexcel and in October for Cambridge only. All schools conduct the study of all subjects in the English language and are fostering global standard in their students.
Technical and Vocational
The Technical and Vocational System of Bangladesh provides practical knowledge through courses in the areas of science, technology, and engineering. These courses are usually one month to four years in length. The Technical Education Board is responsible for monitoring and conducting examinations at the secondary level for Technical and Vocational System.
This system of education is highly popular among those members of the society who want a more hands-on experience in the field of study they want to pursue. For example, at the secondary level, Diploma-in-Engineering course is offered which is a four-year curriculum. Students who do this course can finish and then enroll in a Bachelor’s program in a university. Many say that study at the bachelor’s level becomes easier and takes less than four years to complete for students studying at this level.
It must be said that this system of education is responsible for making qualified workforce in the service sector. This workforce travels out of the country and are making the economy better.
The traditionally popular system of education in Bangladesh is the Madrasah Education System. This basically focuses on religious education, specifically, Islam. The language in which the main study is carried out is Arabic and students that study in this system also serve local masjids. At present, students have to complete all courses from the General Education System. There are many privately licensed Madrasahs that offer free education in this medium to poor and orphans of the country. These are called the Qawmi Madrasah and the Alia Madrasah.
Today, the government spends about 11.5% of its annual education budget on alia madrasahs in order to make education in this medium be of good quality. Over the years, this system has faced many criticisms from different aspects of the society regarding many issues.
Which Curriculum Should You Choose?
Bangladesh’s education system may seem faulty due to many issues. But the truth is, for a developing country like it with such a massive population that needs to be educated, such issues are common to arise. However, the government is constantly trying to make the system function better so that high quality is maintained.
Unfortunately, the many issues that make the system struggle that today everyone is grade-centric. Parents and teachers make the students run for grades only. This has led to the commercializing of education and has led to the creation of many coaching centers.
Such issues reside at the heart of the education system itself and are more prevalent in Bangla Medium and English Version. The scene for the English medium is not very different but it is to some extent.
This info graph from Dhaka Tribune lists the issue that is marring the development of the education system of the country. So the question now is which curriculum should you choose? The answer to it is debatable.
Firstly, education here is highly subsidized. So cost in all mediums except English Medium is low. Secondly, each curriculum has its good and bad. As government regulated curriculum is for large scale, so it is difficult to ensure maximum quality. English Medium has its negatives too. Thirdly, it is mostly about availability, cost of education and trust in the educators which will determine which medium you choose. Before taking a concrete decision, determine the options and choices and then take a step.