WHEN the successful students of the recent HSC examinations were jubilating on August 14, a report in The Daily Star revealed that the management committee of a high school in Rajshahi had taken Tk. 20 lakh and a plot of land as bribe for recruiting three teachers and a librarian for the school. It is alleged that the president and three members of the management committee, all activists of a political party, were involved in the deal. Moreover, the plot was registered in the name of their party leader, perhaps without her knowledge, for construction of a party office.
The three teachers got their jobs in 2011 on forged certificates of Non-Government Teachers' Registration and Certification Authority, according to an official of Rajshahi. The most interesting part of the story is that, when contacted by the reporter, one of the members of the management committee said: “Taking donations for recruiting teachers is common nowadays. There is nothing unlawful in it.”
The process of recruitment of teachers by taking bribe now appears to be a regular practice and is considered to be 'legal.' Bribe and quality are incompatible. It is obvious that such teachers lack the required qualifications to teach. This explains why the standard of education has been going down in Bangladesh. According to a recent report by the Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh features in the bottom five positions among 28 Asia and Pacific countries in four categories including education.
It has also become a common practice at schools to coerce students to take coaching lessons if they want to pass or get good grades. Students are thus forced to attend coaching classes catered to pass examinations only. They hardly learn the subjects properly. In addition, there are serious allegations of frequent leaking of question papers and widespread circulation of fake educational certificates.
It has also been reported that several private universities award fake degrees, complete with transcripts, against payments without offering courses or taking examinations. As long as “chakuri banijyo” (offer of jobs on payment) continues unabated in offices, jobs will be easily available to the fake degree holders at the cost of the deserving ones.
Corruption in education is like cancer. Slowly and steadily it destroys the backbone of a country. Sooner or later, we may not be able to stand straight. No matter how much we pride ourselves on the results of the school final examinations, corruption is badly tarnishing our image. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are even devaluing the genuine school final certificates and the university degrees with all the glittery GPAs.
The writer is a former chief engineer of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission.