A proposed parliamentarians' quota for enrolment at non-government schools has raised serious questions and doubts among educationists, guardians, and, indeed, ourselves.
Quotas are essentially put in place to ensure participation of minority and other disadvantaged groups in society in the education and employment sectors. Parliamentarians do not fall into these categories. As it is, admission procedures in private schools in the country are already plagued by large-scale irregularities, with lawmakers using their power to secure admission of their relatives' or friends' children in schools. Reserving a quota for members of parliament would simply legalise this process and increase the level of corruption and the ease with which it takes place.
Private schools are catering to the educational needs of the country alongside the government schools. To burden the former with MP quotas is unjustified, particularly because the lawmakers are supposed to sacrifice rather than assuage their appetite for privilege, of which they have many already.
In addition, there are already a number of quotas in place, including those for the children and grandchildren of freedom fighters, the disabled and the children of ministry officials. Introducing yet another quota would further shrink the opportunity for regular but meritorious students deserving of admission in schools through fair competition. This can hardly be a fair practice in an equal opportunity society.
The proposed 2% quota for parliamentarians was put forward last year as well but rejected due to the allegations of corruption mentioned above. Things have not changed since; so what led the authorities to reconsider the proposal is a pertinent question to ask. Moreover, let's not forget that 2 percent quota for 330 MPs works out to be a huge figure of virtual denial of an otherwise legitimate right to admission of that many students.
Education has already become a business more than anything else in Bangladesh, and to provide the MPs with the privilege of quotas will be subjecting it to their corrupting influence. Our children have the right to go to school based on their own merit and not on money and power of their patrons. We urge the government to reconsider the move and to take the wiser decision of abandoning it.