Student-to-teacher ratio goes high

Mohiuddin Alamgir

Student-to-teacher ratio in secondary schools is going high while the ratio in primary schools has already been higher than what is aimed at in the National Education Policy 2010.
The ratio in primary school is also higher than UNESCO standard while ratios in both secondary and primary schools in Bangladesh are higher the South Asian average.
A lower number of teachers in crowded classrooms result in poor student achievement and fail to provide them with lasting academic benefits, teachers and education officials said.
The student-to-teacher ratio in secondary schools was 1:36 in 2012 which was 1:30 in 2011. The education policy aims at a 1:30 ratio in secondary schools.
The ratio in government primary schools is 1:50.11 and in registered non-government primary schools 1:47.43.
The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education director general, Fahima Khatun, and the Directorate of Primary Education director general, Shyamal Kanti Ghosh, both said that the ratios were matters to be worried about.
They said that the number of students in schools was increasing every year and authorities were struggling to provide them with the required number of teachers.
The Annual Sector Performance Report 2013 of the Directorate of Primary Education that came out in January 2014, says that there are 50 students per teacher in government primary schools and 47.43 students per teacher in registered non-government primary schools.
The current student-to-teacher ratio in primary schools is higher than 1:25 that UNESCO sets out and higher than 1:30 that the National Education Policy  2010 aims for, Alamgir Hossain, a teacher at the Institute of Education and Research in Dhaka University, said.
The ratio in primary schools in Bangladesh is also higher than the South Asian average.
According to the World Bank, in Nepal, the ratio was 1:30 in 2011 and
1:28 in 2012.  In Pakistan, the ratio was 1:40 students in 2011 and 1:41 in 2012. In the Maldives, the ratio was 1:12 in 2011 and 1:11 in 2012. In Bhutan, it was 1:25 in 2011 and 1:24 in 2012; in Sri Lanka, it was 1: 24 in 2011 and 2012; and in India, the ratio was 1:35 in 2011.
The ratio in secondary schools in Bangladesh is, meanwhile, going high. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics, in 2011, there were 30 students per teacher; in 2012, the number increased to 36 as mentioned in the Basic Education Statistics 2012 that came out in December 2013.
The ratio in secondary schools in Bangladesh is also higher than the South Asian average. According to the World Bank, there were 21 students per teacher in 2011 and 20 students per teacher in 2012 in Bhutan.
The ratio in Nepal was 1:30 in 2011 and in 2012 and in Sri Lanka, it was 1:17 in 2011 and 2012.
Education and research teacher Alamgir Hossain said that the student-to-teacher ratio was an indicator of education quality. In crowded classrooms with a high number of students, the quality of education suffers. For students, it becomes difficult to follow the course and teachers spend less time on the needs of individual students.
Rasheda K Choudhury, the executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education, said that the ratio in Bangladesh was so high that it became impossible for teachers to adopt competency-based teaching approach in classrooms.
The ratio of 1:50 in government primary schools and 1:36 in secondary schools were averages. In reality, there are many schools where the ratio is 1:60, or even 1:70, she said.
Teachers also subscribed to Rasheda’s view. In the Nababerbagh Government Primary School at Mirpur in the capital, there are eight teachers against 800 students, taking the ratio to 1:100.
Viqarunnisa Noon School and College has more than 15,000 students and with 425 regular teachers, the ratio is 1:45.
The institution’s principal Manju Ara Begum said that teachers could barely concentrate on the only first two or three classes.
Both Fahima and Shyamal said that the government was recruiting teachers but situation would not change overnight.
‘A process is under way to recruit more teachers. We hope that the situation will improve,’ Fahima said.

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