“Continuous assessment without corrective help will be in vain”

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Professor Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research (IER) at Dhaka University and member of the 2010 National Education Policy Formulation Committee, talks to Everyday stars Naznin Tithi on the challenges we may face in implementing the new school curriculum, the outline of which was recently approved by the Prime Minister, and how we can resolve them

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Several major changes have been made to the new curriculum, such as the elimination of exams for students up to grade 3 and the cancellation of all types of public exams before grade 10. What do you think will be the main challenges in the implementation of these changes?

It is quite natural that the program should be modified and developed with the changing needs of the times. The last time the program was revised in Bangladesh was in 2012 and the government started implementing it in 2013. Since then we have continued with this program, although some of its provisions have been revised in the process. of road. But let’s not stray from our topic of discussion. Looking at the new program, I think some of the major changes that have been introduced will be difficult to implement. The first important change is that there will be no summative assessment, which means that there will be no exams until class 3. However, this is not the first time this has happened. change is being made to our primary education. Thirty years ago, as part of the second government program for the development of primary education (PEDP), it was decided that there would be no exams in classes 1 and 2, but rather by a continuous evaluation. He is still officially in the program, but not in reality. What the government is doing now is basically the same thing, but this time it has offered to implement the system up to grade 3. The challenge is that there hasn’t been enough research to find out why we couldn’t implement it before, and what should have been done to make sure.

Personally, I don’t think there should be exams up to class 3, and I am in favor of continuous assessment or assessment. It is essential to improve the quality of education as well as to ensure education for all. The bottom line is that we cannot benefit from continuous assessment unless we put in place remedial assistance. Say, for example, there are 50 students in class 1 in a school. Forty-five of them fully understood the lesson given by a teacher, the other five did not. Now, if the teacher continues her next lesson without making these five students understand the previous lesson, they will fall behind in class. That’s why we need remedial help, which means teachers need to make sure everyone in the class understands the lessons. Either the teacher will have to give them extra time after class time, or other students who have learned the lesson well will help them understand it. Nowhere in the world is continuous assessment carried out without providing remedial assistance or instruction.

Regarding the PECE and JSC exams, we were against them from the start. Public exams at such a young age only create fear and stress for students, hampering their overall development. At this age, they need joyful learning. This is also the reason why we are arguing for the cancellation of the annual class 1-3 exams. In the past, there were no central exams in classes 5 and 8; there were only scholarship exams, and not all students had to take these exams. So we really appreciate the decision to drop the PECE and JSC exams. However, canceling these reviews is not enough; continuous assessment and remedial assistance should also be introduced in all classes.

In the current program, 80 marks are reserved for semester and annual exams and 20 marks are reserved for continuous assessment in each subject. This is applicable from classes 1 to 12. Unfortunately, the government has not been able to implement this to date. So it will certainly take immense preparation to do it now.

In accordance with the new curriculum, students will choose the streams (science, humanities and business studies) in class 11. Do you think this would bring about a positive change? What about vocational and technical education?

When I took my final exams in 1962, there was a one-way education up to grade 10; we chose the Class 11 streams. But later that year it was decided that the students would choose the Class 9 streams. Now the government plans to start over. Without a doubt, we need to change and update our curriculum according to the needs of the times. But it takes a logical explanation and research before making this change, which is missing here. Have we done any research on this in the past 60 years? No.

However, I personally believe that there should be one-track education up to grade 10, because we need to ensure a solid educational basis for our students. Of course, five or eight years are not enough for students to have a solid foundation and choose the path themselves. Ten years seems like a good time for students to understand which course of education they would like to pursue. This time is necessary for the development of students’ values, knowledge and skills.

In addition, not all students need to pursue higher education. The rate at which we are producing university graduates from public and private institutions is mind-boggling. No government can create jobs for so many university graduates. Don’t we need educated farmers, fishermen, bus drivers? We need people who are educated in all aspects of life. So, I think government policy should be to provide one-track education for everyone up to grade 10. After completing their SSC exams, 50 percent of students should be allowed to continue on to higher education according to their values, interests and skills. The remaining 50 percent should go to vocational and technical education. There should be enough vocational schools for them. The training period would depend on their subject of instruction. While a six-month training course may be sufficient for poultry farming, learning to fish farming may require a one-year course. After receiving the desired training, they should receive financial aid / loans to start their career, which they can repay with their income. This is how we can have a skilled workforce.

The new curriculum is supposed to prioritize learning based on experimentation and activity. How to prepare our teachers to implement it in the classroom?

What we usually do here is start a new system without taking the proper preparations. We introduced creative questions in school exams without even preparing teachers for creative education methods, and also without making the curriculum creative. To answer creative questions, students must first learn to think creatively in class. A decade has passed since the introduction of this system, but there are still teachers who do not understand what creative teaching is. They still follow the old way. Why? Because they haven’t been properly trained.

For lessons based on experiences and activities, not all lessons in a class can meet these criteria. There will be lessons which will be information based. As you teach the divisions and districts of the country to the students, there is nothing to experiment with. However, there is a lot that can be taught through classroom activities and experiences. Imagine, for example, that a teacher teaches his students three types of soil: loamy, sandy, and clay. What they can do is give the students the three types of soil and tell them about their characteristics. By observing the characteristics of soil types in the classroom, students will identify and learn about them. This is called activity and experience based teaching. For this, teachers must be trained so that they become competent to properly deliver this type of course. There are many teachers who are already qualified, but there are also those who are reluctant to improve skills. In addition, teacher training is mostly theoretical, which should not be the case – teachers should also learn through activity and experimentation.

Currently, 96 percent of our secondary schools are private, where the quality of teachers in general is not satisfactory. If we recruit ineffective and unqualified teachers, regardless of the quality of their training, they would be unable to internalize that training and would not be able to teach creatively. I was a member of the National Curriculum Formulation Committee in 2010. At that time, we included a number of important provisions in the curriculum, most of which have yet to be implemented. . One of the most important suggestions we made at the time was to form an education service commission, just like the civil service commission. The commission would be made up of renowned educators who would recruit qualified teachers through an appropriate process and after testing the professional aptitudes of applicants. If it can be done, it will make a big difference in our primary and secondary education sectors.

Naznin Tithi is a member of the editorial team of The Daily Star.

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