Thursday, 28 October, 2021

Are We Professionals by Choice or by Chance?

Nazrul Islam

We all know the story of renowned scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He wanted to be an air force pilot. He went to Dehradun for an admission test. Eight candidates have been selected, he is the ninth. He is sitting by the river in a gloomy mood. At this time a saint came and asked, ‘Why are you sitting alone by the river in the dark?’

‘My life has failed. This life has no significance. I failed the admission test in the Air Force’, he replied. The saint said, ‘You get up. This means that destiny did not set you right to become an air force pilot. You will be something else, destiny has predetermined it. You follow your destination, determined by your destiny. You will succeed.’

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was not only a renowned scientist; he became the eleventh President of the Republic of India. Can we describe this incident of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, he is not a ‘by-choice’ scientist? Or, did he become the President of India ‘by-chance’?

I had an acquaintance with an officer in the administration cadre. When he was a UNO, one day while gossiping, he told me that he is an engineer from BUET. He had no plan to participate in the BCS exam. Seeing all his friends taking part in the exam, he also applied for BCS with his friends. That’s all; he did not take any particular preparation for BCS exam.

Surprisingly, he got the chance in the BCS (admin) cadre in his maiden attempt. He is now the Deputy Secretary (DS) to the government, and has been very successful in his own ministry. So what do us say; he is not an officer in the administration cadre ‘by-choice’, and he is now the Deputy Secretary to the government ‘by-chance’!

Do we have actual data on what percentage of university graduates in the country have the opportunity to choose a career according to their subject, or interest? Or, what percentage of employees sees a reflection of what they have studied at university level in their profession? In our country, now a subject titled ‘Finance, Banking and Insurance (FBI)’ is taught at the higher secondary level.

We assume that banks and financial institutions have been working in our country for a long time, rather than including this subject in the curriculum at the higher secondary level. So the question is: graduates of what disciplines have been running banks or financial institutions for so many years? Were they all bankers ‘by-choice’?

Okay, let’s look at the next picture when the curriculum includes FBI. Now all those working in all the banks and financial institutions have studied FBI at the higher secondary level? Is there no one here to graduate in literature, science, philosophy or sociology? If so, are they working ‘by-choice’ or ‘by-chance’? Can we swear that every student who has studied FBI is now working in financial institutions only?

It is true that a large part of the teachers in our country are teachers ‘by-chance’. May be they couldn’t go into any other profession. They did not want to come into the teaching profession, but he has become a teacher. But is this true only for teachers? Do university graduates in our country have the opportunity to choose profession according to their subject, or trend?

A common tendency in our society is that we respect the able-bodied. In our country, generally, teachers are inoffensive people; their chances of getting due respect in the society are limited. He will have to fight for MPO affiliation, promotion, increments, festive bonus, pension, poverty, etc. Knowing this he will choose teaching profession as a vow! Sadly, the less logical this statement is, the more ridiculous it is.

Due to lack of financial security, the social status of teachers, especially those at the secondary level, has gone down to a very low stage. According to the analysis of the quality of education, the standard of education in Bangladesh by international standards is 2.8%, the standard of education in India and Sri Lanka is 20.8% and the standard of education in Pakistan is 11.3% (Bangla Tribune, 20.09.2021).

Naturally the question arises, why is the quality of our education in this state? So is this terrific situation, in our education system, happened only for ‘by-chance’ teachers? But why teaching is a profession that happens in our country without being liked? What is the difference between the facilities of our teachers and the teachers of developed countries?

The International Commission for Education for the 21st Century, Delors, a UNESCO report, said 25 percent of foreign aid received from developing countries should be invested in education. At present, the per capita annual investment in education and health in the SAARC region is USD 5.00 in Bangladesh, USD 10.00 in Sri Lanka, USD 14.00 in India, USD 150.00 in Malaysia and USD 160.00 in South Korea.

A professor of Dhaka University has raised the question: in a society that gives primary and secondary school teachers the status of third class employees; will the teaching profession be taken as ‘by-choice’? Ministers, Chief Election Commissioners, Judges (Appellate Divisions) of the Supreme Court are ranked 8th in the Warrant of Presidency of the country. In 9th place are the State Ministers, Election Commissioners and Judges of the Supreme Court.

The Deputy Ministers is in 10th place. In 12th place are the Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary, Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force. The National Professors are ranked 17th in the Warrant of Presidency of the country. And not all professors, selection grade professors are ranked 19th. Now we think a little about the social position of secondary and primary teachers. Where is their position in the Warrant of Presidency?

The National Parliament has 300 seats (50 more seats are reserved for women). The number of central leaders of a political party can be in the thousands. Now, those who cannot win in the Parliament election, will they become unnecessary in the party; surely not. They have the opportunity to work in important positions in the party and usually the high command of the party connects them in that way.

If the question is, in which profession in our country do we come to ‘by-choice’? Many may refer to doctors, engineers, players or military officers. But in all other professions, at least a part is involved ‘by-chance’. It is possible to put many examples including a judge, a secretary, a high-ranking official of the administration cadre, who have taken up this profession as ‘by-chance’.

What have we done for the teaching profession (compared to other professions) so that people will come to this profession ‘by-choice’? Even after so many limitations, we need to evaluate if they became teachers ‘by-chance’, need to see whether they later became true teachers. Abdul Kalam did not become a pilot, but he has been called the ‘Missile Man of India’ for his contribution to the development of ballistic missiles and spacecraft rockets. He was not a missile scientist by-choice. 


The writer is a retired teacher