Education must not be for sale
It's time to stop the commercialisation of our education system, said academics yesterday.
Education should be a right, accessible to all, and not a product to be sold to the highest bidders, they added during two separate programmes, marking historic Education Day.
The two programmes were organised by left-leaning organisations, Samajtantrik Chhatra Front and Bangladesh Students Union, in Dhaka University to commemorate the education movement of 1962, when students took to the streets to oppose the Pakistani government's unequal and exclusionary national education policy.
"The country's education sector has been left at the mercy of businesses. Education has become a product, to be bought for money -- those who have the means can access it, while those who don't are left behind," said Prof Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University's economics department.
"To save education from corporatisations, the state has to regain control of it, as per the aspirations of the Liberation War," he added.
At the programme organised by Samajtantrik Chhatra Front, he also argued, "The government has to ensure everyone receives quality education equally. To this end, budget must be allocated to the education sector accordingly, and before finalising the national educational policy, elaborate discussions and analysis on all matters of education has to be conducted."
Meanwhile, at the programme organised by Bangladesh Students Union at the university's Teacher-Student Centre, Prof Kaberi Gayen of DU's mass communication and journalism department said, "We have seen that the last National Education Policy's priority was to show how education can be bought for money."
"During the pandemic, disparity in education has increased immensely. Many students have dropped out of school, which has led to increases in child marriage among female students," she said.
"The state needs to find ways to bring back the students who have dropped out," she added.
Speaking at the same programme, Prof MM Akash, chair of DU's economics department, said, "It's no wonder education is seen as just another product when 50 percent of parliamentarians are businesspersons today."
"Investments in education are being made for reaping profits, as a result of which discrimination continues to rise in the sector. If we can free the parliament from the grip of business-people, education too will be freed from the grip of commercialisation," he added.