National, Front Page

Country’s first education law in the making

Published : 14 Jul 2022 09:35 PM

At last, the much-awaited ‘Education Act’ is going to be formulated in Bangladesh in line with the ‘National Education Policy, 2010’. 

The Education Ministry has already prepared the draft of the country’s first education law with the provision of imposing ban on printing, publishing and marketing notebooks and guidebooks, which are known as a menace to the education system.

The proposed education law, however, allows the private coaching system and the publishing of supplementary books and education-aid books on conditions as well as approval from the authorities concerned.

The Education Ministry has already sent the draft of ‘Education Bill, 2022’ to the Cabinet Division for approval, said officials of the ministry. 

After the Cabinet’s approval, the bill would be placed in the Parliament for the enactment of law. The ‘Education Bill, 2022’ is likely to be placed in the next Parliament session after approval from the Cabinet, said sources. 

The ‘National Education Policy, 2010’ recommended the formulation of an education law for proper implementation of the education policy. Against this backdrop, the Education Ministry had taken the initiative to prepare a law in line with the 2010 policy and a sub-committee of the education policy implementation committee had prepared a draft law for the first time on January 26 in 2011.

Discussions and criticism on the draft education law have been going on since then over the issue of notebooks, guidebooks, supplementary books and private coaching system. 

Amid the discussions and criticism, the Education Ministry sent the first draft of the ‘Education Act’ to the Cabinet Division in December 2016. The Cabinet Division sent it back with some observations as the-then draft gave legitimacy to coaching and private tuition in the name of ‘shadow education’.

According to the latest draft of education law, the printing, publishing and marketing of notebooks and guidebooks are punishable by a maximum imprisonment for three years or a maximum fine of Tk 5 lakh or both.

It also states that if any teacher forces his students of his institution to purchase notebooks and guidebooks, legal action will be taken against him or her.

A law enacted in 1980 also prohibits the notebooks and guidebooks up to the eighth grade. So, notebooks and guidebooks are running now in the country in the name of supplementary books or education-aid books. 

The draft law states that the publication of supplementary books and education-aid books will be allowed only after approval from the authorities concerned. However, the draft says that if a teacher forces students to purchase supplementary books and education-aid books, it will be considered misconduct and disciplinary actions will be taken against him or her.

Academics are opposing the provision, saying that there will be a room to legalize the operation of notebooks and guidebooks in the name of supplementary books and commercial coaching in the name of private tuition. 

The draft education law also states that the private coaching opportunities are allowed for teachers outside the stipulated time of the educational institution. However, a teacher of an educational institution can’t teach privately to a student of his own institution. 

The draft says that a school may arrange additional classes in exchange for the money for weaker students subject to the written consent of the parents. The classes will be held either before or after school hours in line with the rules or policies framed by the government or a circular or executive order. 

However, there is already an executive order of the Education Ministry in this regard. This is not properly observed. Rather, teachers are more inclined towards private tuition. 

The draft law also imposes ban on physical punishment for schoolchildren and mental torture by teachers.

According to the draft, if anyone wants to run coaching centre, he has to take registration from the authorities concerned. 

Academics and educationists said that it will be difficult to implement the proposed education law as there are numerous educational institutions across the country and who will look after the matter? 

Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said that private coaching can’t be stopped at all. Some students are relatively weaker than other students. On the other hand, it is not possible for the parents of all the students to give the necessary time to the child to study. 

In this situation, the minister said that the private coaching can be a solution. However, the problem is that many teachers don’t teach properly in class and force students to do private coaching, which is unethical.  

About supplementary books, the minister said that there may be such books. But now it is seen that those who print these supplementary books unethically force students to buy books from those publications by commissioning some teachers. She, however, said that although there are supplementary books in the draft law for this purpose, measures have been taken to stop these immoral activities. If the new curriculum is implemented, there will be no need for private coaching or private tuition.

Academics and educationists said that there is no difference between the note-guidebook and supplementary books. If the education law is passed and provision is kept there, there is a fear that the banned notebooks and guidebooks will be available in the markets in the name of supplementary books. They are worried that it will be very harmful for the students if the coaching system and supplementary books are legalized.

Former Chairman of University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC) Prof Abdul Mannan said that it is not a good idea to depend on secondary books as well as supplementary books without reading the original textbooks. It will not improve the quality of education system and will not benefit the students. 

Deputy Director of Campaign for Popular Education KM Enamul Hoque, however, said that if the government can implement the provisions of banning notebooks and guidebooks and control the private tuition, it would be helpful for the education system.

An educationist said that qualified and talented teachers have to be appointed in the educational institutions for development of education system. It is necessary to ensure adequate respect, dignity and financial system of the teachers in order to do this. He, however, said that if there is an opportunity for a supplementary book by closing the note-guidebook, it will be practically the same.

It can be mentioned that proposed education law doesn’t allow setting up private educational institution without the prior permission of the government. Even Bangladeshi curriculum will require permission to set up institutions abroad.