'Weakness in English major obstacle to higher education'
Academics have identified weakness in English as a major barrier to higher education in the country and called for effective government initiatives to overcome the problem.
Talking to BSS, they pointed out that lack of proficiency in English among teachers and students has restricted themselves to cope with the rapid development in the arena of knowledge.
They laid emphasis on imparting effective English edu-cation at pre-university level saying students were coming to universities 'with very poor knowledge in English'.
Dean of Arts Faculty of Dhaka University (DU) Prof Sadrul Amin said the learning of English is important for foreign employment as well as human resource development and economic prosperity.
The government and the University Grants Commission (UGC) have scopes to play effective roles against the backdrop of the weakness of English, he said. English is an appropriate medium for interaction worldwide, he added.
In addition, there are problems with English as a medium in higher education. It was recently noted that more than 70 percent of the university stu-dents in Bangladesh answer their examination questions in Bangla, although the texts are in English.
Renowned educationist Professor Muzaffer Ahmad said the government should undertake initiatives to formulate a coordinated higher education policy for 'at least one or two decades' to impart need-based education to the students as part of strategies for planned development of human resources.
Despite increased budget allocation for education, with all its necessity for updating the education quality, curriculum and teaching system, the higher education sector was deprived of the raised allocation, he said.
Although the number of government and private universities and colleges has been steadily increasing since Bangladesh achieved statehood in 1971, the enrollment completion rates are still very low.
The major factors related to the problems of low enrollment and high dropout rates at the college and university levels in Bangladesh seem to be a combination of factors, including poverty, said Prof Zahedul Islam of DU.