Students coming out successful in SSC examinations outnumber seats available in colleges. How to address the problem?

0001Children learn from their observation of the world. The closest generation they try to relate to is the generation right before them. But on seeing their seniors not being able to attend colleges after passing SSC examinations due to seat crisis, most junior students get demoralised even in pursuing their dream of further education. Failure to get admitted into any college after passing SSC examinations symbolises the breaking of so many dreams and aspirations. However, one should always remember that by dint of education a nation can prosper and stand with its head held high among other nations. But this kind of problem in getting higher education makes a nation fall behind developed nations as proper education signifies development of a nation now.
Needless to say, Bangladesh has gained some achievements in the education sector, but the focus has been mainly on the primary education. Nobody can deny the importance of primary education. But there should have been more opportunities for most students trying to get higher education. Remedial measures should have taken by the authorities to minimise the gap between the number of students passing SSC examinations and the number of available seats in colleges. Now, this problem can be addressed only by establishing some more colleges in the country. As a densely populated country, Bangladesh should have an educated population rather than unskilled and untutored masses. If colleges and residential colleges are established in the suburbs or the outskirts of the cities many students would be able to reap the benefits of these new colleges. These colleges could be private, public or semi-government colleges so that people belonging to the fixed- and low- income groups could send their children to these colleges. A more plausible way to run these colleges would be to shorten the time of classes and manage two shifts of students; this could be feasible for all types of students. The morning shift teachers and evening shift teachers would be either the same teachers or different. In case of having a different set of teachers, it would increase the number of teachers as having a different set of teachers will entail appointment of new ones. As such, it will solve the problem of unemployment to some extent. Another method to implement this would be to employ digital classrooms for those who have passed their SSC examinations. This distant education system would be much more feasible and would eventually reach out to the whole country soon as most households today have smart phone devices and/or computer. Students should enroll in these digital classrooms using registration numbers, which would be given to students who would upload their SSC certificates and payment slips. Hence, a digital management system can be introduced using efficient teaching tools. The recorded classes and assessment through MCQs and assignments would be the means to help students in preparing for the HSC examinations. A more suitable system could also be adopted through which many English medium students obtain their O levels and A levels education even taking help from private coaching centres. The registration is done under registered schools or private coaching centres that are registered under the board. In this way a lot of students who are unable to attend colleges for their HSC education would be able to prepare themselves for HSC examinations.
Onesa Tahsin Faeeka
BRAC University

0002Bangladesh is an over-populated country. The trend of population growth is incremental, which is accelerated day by day. This upward trend of population is a critical issue, which needs to be addressed through formulation of national policies regarding education and training, fundamental human rights, national safety and security, social and political stability, economic and social development, health and nutrition, and so on and so forth.
We know that education is the backbone of a nation and is crucial for human development and emancipation. It is a powerful means for securing social justice.  Ensuring education for all, a fundamental human right, is the duty of the state, which is a core component of the national development policy. Ensuring the right to education is crucial in enabling people to secure other basic rights.
Article 17 of the  national constitution of Bangladesh states that, ‘the state shall adopt effective measures for the purpose of  (a) establishing an uniform, mass-oriented and universal system of education and extending free and compulsory education to all children to such stage as may be determined by law and (b) relating education to the needs of society and producing properly trained and motivated citizens to serve those needs; removing illiteracy within such time as may be determined by law’. It basically resonates with article 26 (1), of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which states that, ‘everyone has a right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit’.
A nation’s focus and fundamental philosophy around education is basically reflected into its education policy and its implementation by the concerned bodies. The educated human resource is the main strength of a country. To achieve the ‘vision 2021’, Bangladesh should create opportunities for overall upward trend in education.
As we mentioned earlier, the number of newborns of Bangladesh falls in an incremental trend, and hence, the number of students passing any public examinations is also in the incremental direction. But the facility of admission into all levels of education is very limited. That is why a mismatch is always there in the journey of education, i,e, between the number of candidates and the seat capacity.
Before discussing the issue, we need to address the problem faced by students who coming out successful in SSC examinations outnumber seats available in colleges. Let us first discuss the national educational systems at the secondary and higher secondary levels.
The contemporary education structure of Bangladesh is generally divided into three major phases, namely, primary, secondary and tertiary education. Primary level institutions principally give primary education. Secondary and higher secondary level institutions offer secondary education. Other higher-level institutions having masters and graduation levels or equivalent section of other related institutions offer tertiary education. The education system operationally falls into two streams: primary education (Grade I-V) managed by the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME)) and the post-primary education which covers all other levels from junior secondary to higher education managed by the administration of the Ministry of Education (MOE). The post-primary stream of education is further classified into four types in terms of curriculum: general education, madrassah education, technical-vocational education and professional education
In general education, the academic programmes terminate at the end of class X when students are to appear for the public examination called SSC (Secondary School Certificate). The Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Educations (BISE) conduct the SSC examination. There are seven such boards in different places in Bangladesh namely: Dhaka, Rajshahi, Jessore, Comilla, Chittagong, Sylhet, and Barisal. The secondary education is designed to prepare the students to enter the higher secondary stage. At higher secondary stage, the course is of two-year duration (XI – XII), which is being offered in intermediate colleges or by intermediate section of degree or masters colleges.
In Madrassah Education, primary level or ebtedayee education is equivalent to primary level of general education. Dhakhil phase (SSC level) is from grade VI – X, while the last 2 years cover Alim (higher secondary) phase. Dhakhil level education is imparted in Dhakhil madrassahs and Dhakhil level of Alim, Fazil and Kamil madrassahs. Alim is equivalent to higher secondary certificate education imparted in Alim madrassahs and in Alim level of Fazil and Kamil madrassahs.
The students whose interest is not strictly academic may find TVET (technical and vocational education and training) programmes more interesting and valuable for their future. Technical and vocational education in Bangladesh is designed in three phases under two major levels of secondary and tertiary level of education. Vocational courses start from secondary level. The certificate courses prepare skilled workers in different vocations starting from ninth grade after completion of three years of schooling in secondary school. At this level, the courses are diversified in different vocations spread over 1 to 2 years duration. Two-year-duration vocational courses have been introduced at the higher secondary level in TSC (Technical School and Colleges) in the recent past. Diploma courses prepare the diploma engineers at the polytechnic institutes. These courses spread over a duration of 4 years and are applicable to those who have passed the secondary school certificate examinations. There is a technical education board called Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB), which grants affiliation to the technical institutes.
Now, let us concentrate on the statistics of the BANBEIS (Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information & Statistics) for the last few years to know how many students have passed SSC(general) examinations and how many of them have appeared for the HSC(general) examinations. According to BENBAIS, the total number of students coming out successful in SSC examinations in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were 904756, 885891 and 1008174 respectively. Roughly, the successful SSC candidates are supposed to enrol in the HSC (general) level along with others from TVET and Madrassahs. The number of successful candidates who appeared for the HSC (general) examination in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 722448, 814469, 914603 respectively.
These figures indicate that there is a gap between the number of pass-outs of SSC examinations and the number of students who enrolled in the HSC(general) colleges. This gap may be attributed to a number of reasons including scarcity of seats in colleges for pass-outs of SSC examinations. Of course, seat capacity for pass outs in a college is very important. It is a matter of deep concern that all the students who come out successful in SSC or equivalent examinations do not get chance to attend their next courses because of scarcity of institutions, in other words, crisis of seats for admission.
The problem should be addressed immediately for sustainable development of the country. Authorities need to come up with appropriate policies to address the issue. Following measures can be taken for a proper journey of education so as to achieve ‘Vision 2021’.
The government should formulate a master plan for education to create facilities for all so that all can get an opportunity to get education from primary to higher levels. The authorities responsible for implementing the said plan should execute it flawlessly.
Major structural changes should be brought about in secondary education to meet the country’s need for skilled and technology-savvy workers. A significant portion of SSC pass-outs should be diverted to TVET, and for that, adequate facilities need to be ensured in the institutes meant for TVET.
There should be joint efforts from the government and NGOs for establishing new institutions as per the master plan. Schools, colleges, TVET institutions, and Madrassahs should be established keeping in view the vast population of students in the country.
Creating adequate facilities for all to get education is a must and the government should play a vital role in this regard. The country has passed a long way since the war of liberation in 1971. This is high time for it to take steps for removing hurdles from the way to impart education to all.
Hossain Aktar
Deputy Director (STEP)
Directorate of Technical Education

Our students pass their SSC examinations every year by dint of hard work. But the issue is whether they get equal opportunities to get admitted into any college to pursue their studies after passing out of their schools. What one will find in reality, however, is that a large number of students pass their SSC examinations but a small number of students among them get the opportunity to pursue their studies in college due to scarcity of seats there. Who will take the responsibility of those unfortunate students who fail to get admitted into any college after passing their SSC examinations? The answer is—the government must take the responsibility to guide them so that they can eke out a suitable job in future. If we, as a nation, want to strengthen our national economy and ensure social justice, liberty and equality for all, we need to improve the standard of our educational institutes — be they public or private. But what is disappointing is that many students who scored the highest grade point average 5 in the SSC examinations fail to qualify for admission in different universities when they appear for admission tests. This reinforces the idea that their foundation in education still remains wobbly. Proper education for all citizens is essential for a nation striving for prosperity. To improve the quality of education is a multifaceted task. To make it happen, budgetary allocation needs to be increased, more academic institutes including colleges need to be established and the government must come out of its contentment and devise a comprehensive strategy and a multi-pronged approach to implement its education policy. This will also help students to pursue their dream of higher education after passing out of their schools.
Uttara, Dhaka 

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