Tuesday, 7 December, 2021

Eradicate Corruption from Education Sector

Masum Billah

Eradicate Corruption from Education Sector
Masum Billah

On 29 September TIB released a report on ‘Secondary Education Activities Implementation: 'Challenges of good governance and ways of overcoming.’ A grim picture of rampant corruption came out in it that can make any conscious individual worried. The report says that recruiting principals, head teachers, assistant teachers, assistant librarians, inspecting and auditing educational institutions for getting academic recognition, renewal of agreements, teacher transfers - all of these activities involve bribes. Besides these, the lengthy processes of implementing education policies, irregularities, limitations and some ‘positive and negative aspects’ have been revealed in the report.

 According to the findings, the employment of principals, head teachers, assistant teachers, transfer of teachers and MPO inclusion requires bribes around Tk 3.5 to Tk 15 lakhs. To transfer a teacher involves Tk one to two lakhs. The brokers who take this money are mostly the staff and officials of DSHE. Teachers qualified through the NTRCA exam also have to pay bribes amounting to 50 thousand to Tk two lakhs. For a post of assistant librarian one needs to pay Tk two to three lakhs as bribe. For good inspection report for educational institutions Tk fifty thousand to five lakhs, for academic recognition Tk one to five lakhs, for MPO inclusion Tk five thousand to one lakh per teacher, for recognition renewal Tk five to thirty thousand and for transfer of teacher Tk one to two lakhs are required as bribes. In this ocean of corruption in the education sector the qualities and skills of honesty and professionalism are being sacrificed. Money alone plays the crucial game here. Who will look into the matter? Should we treat the education sector as similar to others? If we do that, it will be a serious blunder.

In response to the TIB report the teacher leaders say “bribing in the education administration is a fact but the amount of bribe may be more or less than TIB has released. The management committee is fully involved in employing non-government teachers. The head teachers sometimes have to follow illegal procedures due to the pressures created by the managing committee members who belong to powerful groups or political wings. To get MPO by giving hush money begins from the field level and it reaches to the highest tier. So, we demand the nationalisation of educational institutions and that is the only solution.’’

A follow-up question arises - does nationalisation banish corruption from the field of education? Bribery goes on while transferring government teachers as well as education officials. It also happens in terms of even promoting the teachers. It has been identified that service seekers have to pay a fat amount of bribe at least in eight points in the secondary level. On top of that, different development programs also witness serious corruption. Teachers and staffers remain in their workplaces year after year even though they are supposed to work in one place usually for three years only. Look at NCTB where some officials have been working for more than two decades. What about other teachers? It is not unknown to us that corruption lies at every step of every department of our country. However, the field of education deserves to be fresh and clean as it promises to produce honest skilled future citizens for the country.

It would be really difficult to banish and root out corruption from the country if the state does not take stern stand and action against corruption. We cannot afford to avoid the corruption in the field of secondary education. So, the departments concerned should look into the matter very seriously and address it pragmatically. The Director of DSHE - (College and Administration) responds to the report of TIB as, ‘We have not yet received the report in our hand. We will analyse it in detail. We must see how they have developed the report, how much truth is in it and how much it is acceptable. The formalities of MPO are online, so there is no scope of corruption. Even if it happens, we will take necessary action in case any truth is unearthed.’ The Director must express his reaction which we take as a usual move on his part. That which is happening in the areas mentioned by TIB is not unknown to him. We also know that only he or his colleagues are not solely responsible for this mishap. It’s a syndicate that has developed over the years and the entire mechanism has been vitiated by it. One or two honest individuals alone cannot address or redress it.

TIB has also identified serious weaknesses in the field level administrative works of DSHE due to the absence of coordinated and skilled manpower. There is a lack of proper monitoring and inspection, transparency and accountability. Problems due to long term political influences on educational issues, irregularities in terms of management and finances have also been identified by TIB. Corruption has taken an institutional shape because of these weaknesses and longtime irregularities. Many works are going on by virtue of executive order and pertinent law has not been developed and enacted. Many important issues of the Education Policy 2020 have not been implemented yet. Education law has not been passed so far. National budget for education does not satisfy the international criteria though it seems that the budget has increased in terms of amount. However, in reality the case proves to be the opposite. It has been suggested by UNICEF to spend six per cent of GDP or 20 per cent of the total budget for education of a county. However, the allocation remains at 10 to 12 per cent of the budget and 2.3 per cent of the GDP in the last ten years. But other countries of South Asia allocate around three to six per cent of their GDP for education.

 In this perspective, TIB has suggested to increase the financial facilities of the MPO enlisted teachers and staff, teachers to be developed to be more efficient emphasising on the necessity of decreasing teacher student ratio. TIB has suggested establishing one ‘Regional Educational Management Academy’ to enhance the quality of education by providing training to the teachers. The skills gained by the trained teachers must be tested very rigorously. It has also suggested employing non-government teachers through a teacher selection commission and to increase the duration of the training. Close supervision during training of the teachers has also been emphasised. Classrooms should be brought under permanent multi-media either by the government or by institutions themselves. Tender, schedule, buying and selling of things of any project to be done online. The irregularities and weaknesses of different projects should be reflected through monitoring and evaluation. In most of the institutions, teachers are employed with the influence of SMC that stands as a great barrier to quality education. A reasonable educational qualification must be set for becoming SMC chair and members. The current practice shows that uneducated and uncultured people occupy these positions by virtue of their muscle power, seriously vitiating the atmosphere of educational institutions. We must get out of the vicious circle of corruption in the greater interest of the nation, education and our posterity at large. The sooner we can do it the better.


The writer is president of English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh (ETAB) and works in BRAC Education