The editorial with the caption “Teachers, please don’t Shame us” in the Daily Sun on August 8, 2019 deflects a very harsh reality on the stretches of moral bindings of our academic community. It tells simply that those who are at the highest seat of academic learning are indulging in corruptions that range from recruitment of academic instructors to embezzlement of fund to feed personal greed. Unfortunately, these corruptions also include sexual harassment of female students. The editorial note at the outset depicted the role of teachers in the academic arena as mentors who are not only entrusted with the responsibilities of teaching but also a catalytic agent in moulding the character of the students with ethical values and enforcing cultural and religious norms to bolster the moral mind set. The editorial note is based on a report published by the University Grants Commission on the charges of corruption, nepotism and sexual harassment against some former and incumbent vice-chancellors. It is very difficult to conceive that a teacher at the highest echelon may entangle in activities considered as heinous in society.
Looking at it from a different perspective, this note delineates another dimension of corruption which is also pervasive and seizing the vitality of the nation. Now, we recurrently notice hollowness in learning process and the extent of gaps at different stages of educational tier have already reached the nadir. This wretchedness in learning and the attendant knowledge gap would demoralise the young generation; and the whole nation may plunge into conflict and social instability when so called educated youth could not find a suitable or appropriate jobs. Currently, we are facing two calamities in job market; first, the economic growth is not employment friendly and the second is the mismatch between the educational achievement and the skill requirement of well paid job.Each level of education is characterised by certain hard and soft skills and it is expected that students, when they cross the border, are well equipped to handle delicacy at the next level. A student who completes primary education should not stagger with simple division or multiplication or reading simple English books with words of monosyllable or duo syllable or express his or her idea in simple Bangla. This also applies to junior school certificate or secondary school certificate or higher secondary certificate levels. It is expected that students with an average grade can express any mundane idea in his own world or comprehend the contents of a topic in social science or in Physics or Chemistry on the basis of his/her previous exposure. Excellence in academic achievement is sequential and indeed students never attain perfection just in one go. There is an innate bindings that student should master at each tier so that he can reach the highest level of cognitive skills at the apex and apply those traits in innovation and process improvement.
The current academic attainment or the performance of many graduate and post graduate students depicts a very horrendous picture; a lion’s share of students attending universities lack reading skills and their communication skills is very poor. Many students with above average grade in mathematics fail to understand the logic of basic math formula and also the interpretation of results in empirical investigation. It appears that they spend the whole academic endeavour in a mechanical way and more comfortable in routine exercise. When they attend classes they are more interested in knowing the questions that they can expect from the class lecture. Students are no more interested in reading text books or review the exercises at the end of each chapter. They are also no more interested to look into the work out example in their text book.
The performance of students in admission tests conducted by public universities is the manifestation of this hollowness when universities may not find adequate number of students to admit into different programmes or students do not get preferred field of their choice. Now the mushroom growth of private universities help students to pursue higher education in the desired field but many private universities are ill equipped to provide a fair environment of proper education as we often see in the Report published by University Grants Commission.
A simple anagram of teach is cheat, and for teacher it is cheater. Surprisingly, the word cheater is embedded in the word teacher. Any logo manic or philologer may easily get the word without much effort. The cruel truth in this simple anagram is that a teacher is treated to be a cheater when he fails to perform the duty as a noble teacher with integrity, sincerity and dexterity. Many teachers those who coach students are prone to offer suggestions in the embodiment of exact question paper that students expect to answer in exams to get better grade. The culture of feedback in the private teaching from the teachers who also teach in the academic institutions have assumed such a proportion that students are not willing to invest time in reading textbooks that is absolutely essential for understanding the subjects.
Students with this proclivity and with huge knowledge gaps are admitted in universities. They observe a different culture in academic routine; initially they balk and try to look for loopholes in the system. Unfortunately, they often get it or they blame a committed teacher for their own sin. It is observed that teachers in higher academic institutions often provide students with suggestions in concise manner or with course materials in an abridged form and set routine questions to earn reputation.
The education system as whole is in the doldrums and unless the policy planners are careful enough to fix the loopholes, we may not get enough skilled manpower to feed the development process. A nation cannot live with “hollow at the core.”The writer is Professor of Economics, United International University. Email: [email protected]