The ministry of education issued a new Monthly Payment Order (MPO) rules on March 29 that exposes the underlying meaning of not nationalising education that teacher leaders have been talking to make happen in the golden jubilee of our independence. The government nationalised primary education and as the current government included the registered primary schools, the quality of teachers emerged as a big question. Similar situation happening in the case of mass nationalisation of secondary schools, might be an apprehension on the government side, as it was disclosed from the discourse between the teacher leaders, who went on strike in front of the National Press Club several years back.
The financial matters also appear as a big issue. On top of that, nationalisation of secondary education did not fall in the promise or election manifesto of either political parties. The recruitment of teachers in the non-government schools did not see transparency in most of the cases. However, the establishment of Non-government Teachers Registration Certification Authority (NTRCA) tried to bring about some qualitative changes here. Still, many questions give rise to its worthiness. Another hidden cause might be the existence of competition prevailing between the government and non-government schools contributing to offer quality education in this tier of education. When all the schools will be government, the quality of education might see a degrading standard. Nationalisation of education might be a sound way of giving quality education to the learners of secondary level almost uniformly by taking smart and professional steps. The new MPO rules reveals that the inclusion of colleges in the MPO list has been made tougher, obliquely hinting that the government does not want to give importance to college education to increase the number of unemployed graduates in the country, rather technical education needs to be spread and popularised to address the unemployment problems.New non-government educational institutions (school, college and madrasa) are not going to be included in the MPO list though different teacher organisations try to raise the matter for gaining some ends. The ministry has rightly explained that due to the lack of available funds, no new institutions will be enlisted in the MPO. The government enlisted around twenty five hundred institutions last in 2019, announcing that new institutions would be included again after updating the MPO rules. But it is not going to happen at this moment. The education secretary has rightly said `within this fiscal year it will not be possible to give MPO to new institutions because of the lack of fund’. Of course, the fund does not remain available for this purpose. Political decision of the government makes it possible.
In the new MPO rules assistant teachers have the opportunity to be promoted as senior teachers. This has been done keeping in pace with the government school teachers who have recently been included in this process. The assistant teachers will enjoy grade ten within five years of their service if they take a B.Ed. degree and after ten years they will be promoted to the position of senior teachers. The teachers receiving the tenth grade for ten years will receive their salary in the ninth grade. Another positive aspect has been added here. i.e., the librarians have been given the status of teachers both in the school and college levels. We appreciate that their designation has been changed to library teacher or library lecturer.
In higher secondary schools, lecturers will be senior lecturer after promotion, not assistant professor as is in vogue now. Assistant professors will be only at the college level. However, the senior lecturer of higher secondary school and assistant professor of colleges will enjoy the same scale. This does not sound reasonable. I rather advocate the designation of the teachers teaching in colleges (both degree and honours) should be lecturer, senior lecturer, assistant professor, senior assistant professor, associate professor, senior associate professor, professor, senior professor and in higher secondary schools lecturer, senior lecturer and then assistant professor. Each of these stages will be a position promoted with separate salary structure and different benefits. It will create ladders and attract brilliant candidates to come to teaching. The existing designation and condition of the teachers isn’t attractive enough for the brilliant candidates. Just four positions, namely lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor and professor don’t go at par with other attractive jobs, as teachers have to remain in one position for long before going on to the next one.
Within five years since joining, a teacher has to receive a degree in education i.e. B.Ed. from a public university or government teachers’ training college not from any private university. Though it’s true that some private universities are doing better in the field of education, which can be allowed to offer this degree that will be not less qualitative than a government TTC. It must be appreciated that teachers will not lose their job even if the institutions are closed down for any reason. They will be employed in another institution adjacent to their institution. The non-government teachers will get the opportunity of transfer though the consent of both the institutions stands as a condition. Of course, some educationists give their opinion that it cannot be termed a good decision as many teachers will vie for transferring into better institutions giving rise to corruption and nepotism.
New MPO rules entail that teachers should gain skills to conduct classes of two more subjects beyond their original subject which retains merit. Teachers of schools and colleges will get MPO differently and they must have different student pass rates in the same institutions where school and college level teaching takes place. Students' pass rate or other shift will not be taken into consideration. No institution will be allowed to open branches beyond its original setting or campus. If necessary, permission must be obtained properly from the ministry. But we need to think that there are some institutions which are doing very well in the field of education and they have demand in the society as guardians want to send their wards to these institutions which should be allowed to open branches in the parts of the town or country where branches are really necessary. Obtaining permission from the ministry sounds good and necessarily it is supposed to happen but who will address the problems of ‘red-tape’ and exchanging hush money that will come with this phenomena?
The institutions desiring to get MPO, should satisfy three criteria on the basis of 30 marks for the number of students, 30 for examinees appearing in the public examination and 40 on pass rate. According to the last MPO rules, the number of students in the junior secondary level should be 200 situated in the towns and 150 from out of town, in the secondary 300 in the towns and 200 from out of towns, higher secondary 450 and 320, higher secondary college 200 from the cities and 150 out of towns and in degree pass colleges 250 living in towns and 200 out of towns and the rate of pass rate should be 70 per cent.In the new MPO rules of 2021, the number of students in the junior high school from urban areas should be 120 and 90 from the rural area. Secondary 200 and 150 respectively. In higher secondary schools of urban areas the number of students should be 420 and 320 in rural areas, higher secondary colleges of towns the number of students should be 250 and rural areas 220, degree college of towns students must have 490 and out of town 425 students. The pass rate of JSC in town schools should be 70 per cent, in the district level 65 per cent and out of district towns 60 per cent, these figures in SSC have been considered as 70, 60 and 55 per cent and in HSC 65, 55 and 50 per cent respectively.
Teacher recruitment must be done through NTRCA and the demand of teachers must come through the district and Upazila education officers and if any problem is detected, three tiers will remain responsible for that. Though NTRCA was established to select the suitable candidates as teachers, it has failed to register any track record. It has been the demand of educationists to establish a separate non-government teacher selection commission that has also been suppressed as the new MPO rules again talks about NTRCA to recruit teachers. An exclusive committee will recommend new schools for MPO that we appreciate but the thought of forming a separate commission to select qualified teachers for non-government educational institutions must not be set aside.
The writer works for BRAC Education