Let’s Make Our Children Innovative

Dr. Mir Obaidur Rahman

28th March, 2019 06:26:18 printer

Let’s Make Our Children Innovative

Two weeks back Cable News Network [CNN] flushed a news item on Alex Jacquot, a 10 year-old boy from Australia who wrote a letter to Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce on a very important issue that only chief executives can share. This letter was shared by Qantas on Twitter around March 12, 2019 and it received ovation from thousands of readers all over the world. Alex proclaims to be the owners of Oceania Express [may be a competitor of the Qantas in future] needs professional advices from Alan Joyce with a request “please take me seriously.” “I have already started some stuff like what type of planes I’ll need, flight numbers, catering and more,” and asserts that a chief financial officer, an IT head and a head of maintenance is working with commitment to make Oceania Express as the finest airlines in the world.

There are few things to look into the contents of the letter to judge the ingenuity of the boy, the exposure at the age of 10 on the nitty-gritty of opening an airlines and the response of the Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce. The ingenuity of the boy is on the nature of queries such as how passengers can get a decent sleep during a 25-hour journey from Sydney/Melbourne to London. He plans to buy A350 planes that the Qantas uses in the same flight. Alan humbly responds on this query than Qantas is looking at “different designs that give people spaces to stretch out and exercise.” He also invited Alex for personal meetings to brainstorm ideas and a tour of Qantas’ operation Centre. An interested reader may go the CNN online to look for the different comments and the more lively contents of the letter.  Indeed, this is a news items captivating for all of us.  The sweet hand writing and so lucid style of expressing the innocent dream in a reflective way manifest the superiority of the western education system. The boldness of the idea in the professional signature also bids an innovative and challenging career for Alex and we all wish an excellent career for this budding entrepreneur. It is also interesting to note that he sought this advice from Alan Joyce when he has time to work on his new airline on his school holidays.

This letter is indeed an eye opener for all of us, especially the educational planner in this country those who have already remodelled our education system just on Golden Five criterion but utterly failed to appreciate the quality of the students with Golden Five who cannot hop in different trajectory mainly for lack of knowledge. Many students with tertiary level of education cannot write a simple application and struggle to do simple mathematics with ratio and percentage. The World Bank flagship report, World Development Report 2018 [WDR] revealed a startling data on Bangladesh education scenario that students “lose about” 4.5 years in about 11 years of schooling due to poor quality of schooling. Candidly speaking, it is not 4.5 years but may be six or seven years a student loses; this is obvious when you see thousands of students failed in admission tests conducted by public educational institutions. The report confirms that 35 per cent of the third grade students scored too low to on reading comprehension and only 25 per cent of the fifth grade students passed the minimum threshold of mathematics. “The country should address this learning crisis by investing more in education and investing more effectively," the report urges, adding that despite Bangladesh’s remarkable success in providing primary education to nearly all children, the quality of education "remains a concern”.  The WDR report lists several factors for this sluggishness. The most important ones are lack of access to early childhood development programmes, the low quality of teaching practices, low levels of overall spending on public education, pedagogical aura and poor school management.

Many academic institutions in early childhood programmes here emphasises rote learning and both parents and school teachers often encourage students to memorise so that they can get perfect score in the examinations; often with the leaked questions. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while inaugurating the National Primary Education Week, 2019 urged the parents and teachers not to put additional pressure on children for study, the children learn things in a friendly environment. It is enough if they learn how to read books and do simple math such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in their first three years of schooling. The children should learn how to describe their favourite things such as why they love their parents or describe an event when they were in a shopping mail or they visited a library. We congratulate Prime Minister for her bold steps that primary students henceforth should not sit for examination until they cross the third grade. It is also high time to free the students from the curse of Primary and Junior school completion examination and substitute by only Secondary School Certificate Examination.

It is a unique coincidence that the decision by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina matches with the letter by the Alex Jacquot. When children learn how to read books, it is important that we buy them good books and help them read books. Even Children Page in leading daily newspaper is excellent in contents. We may encourage children to write in children page. Once they can express their idea and think logically, they embark on the path of creative writing; an essential element in education system in the western world. The solution is the adoption of Montessori education system and discards the traditional learning process.

The writer is a Professor of Economics, United International University.