Written by Quazi Yousuf Asadullah
With the entire world being held captive at the mercy of a virus, anxiety levels have decided to shoot for the stars. Students all over the globe find themselves distraught at this unprecedented situation. No longer do they have any clear outlines about their career. Graduation seems like a distant fairytale now.
In fact, just like every other country, Bangladesh too faces a lockdown situation like never before. To their dismay, students on all levels now find their learning journeys compromised. With universities and schools closed, teachers find themselves confused about the future. But, as with all things, the goal is to improvise, adapt and overcome.
The people of Bangladesh pride themselves on their fighting mentality. Despite things coming to a standstill owing to the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic, education for Bangladeshi students haven’t stopped. Through effectively harnessing the power of the Internet, Bangladeshi students have kept their educational journey alive.
On the school and college level, the education system in Bangladesh can be segmented into three categories:
- Bangla medium
- English medium
- Arabic medium or Madrasah students
Bengali medium students follow the national curriculum which is set by the government. These students give board examinations known as SSC and HSC. After HSC, these students can pursue further studies after getting admitted to the university of their choice.
How are the Bengali medium students dealing with this?
The government has taken laudable measures to see to it that the Bengali medium primary students aren’t bereft of their much-needed education. The education board operating under the Bangladeshi government has recently launched educational programs tailored towards children to help them out with their learning during this pandemic. Additionally, private tutors continue to contribute towards learning by giving them lessons on the Zoom app.
But, not all students, are financially well-off. And so, for many students, education has indeed become a luxury in these challenging times. Particularly, the Bengali medium students mostly come from middle-class background and lower-middle class families and hence aren’t able to reap the most of these technological offerings.
Additionally, board exams conducted by the state have come to a halt. And Bengali medium students aren’t being able to give their PSC, JSC, SSC and HSC examinations.
Snippets of the English medium students during the pandemic situation
While the English medium students come from relatively affluent families, they too suffer from the consequences of COVID-19. Owing to the lethality of the virus, going to school isn’t an option for them anymore. Some parents have taken the initiative to tutor their children themselves while others have hired online tutors to make their children more knowledgeable. The O-level (Class-10) and A-level (Class-12 equivalent) examinations got cancelled. Students aren’t sure about their O-level and A-level results. For many, this has been a frustrating experience as this has put their dream of studying in their preferred colleges and universities at jeopardy.
The education of the madrasah students has taken quite a beating during this global crisis. The thing is that, a large number of madrasas are funded by private donors. With this ongoing health crisis, receiving funds to carry out their operations have become difficult. However, the good news is that the prime minister of Bangladesh has recently given a large sum to aid the madrasah students.
The state of tertiary education:
- Private University students
- Public University students
Private university students have to pay premium prices to get their degrees. The good news is the educational journey of private university students remains unimpeded by the COVID19. Teachers are taking online classes to see to it that these students don’t fall back in their coursework. They’re able to do this because the infrastructure for online learning is there for private university students.
On the other hand, public university students don’t enjoy this facility. Students enrolled in public universities in Bangladesh come from different districts of Bangladesh. The thing is, because of the COVID-19 situation, the university residences have closed down and the opportunity to stay there isn’t possible for these meritorious public university students. On top of that, public university isn’t as technologically advanced as their private university counterparts. While private universities regularly make use of Google classroom, this concept is largely unknown in public university spheres.
Add to that the fact, that Masters students are unable to carry out much needed research for their thesis projects. The COVID-19 has put our tertiary education into a shambolic state.
The educational sphere of our country isn’t limited to schools, colleges, madrasahs and universities either. We have craftsmanship schools, polytechnic institutes and other instates offering diplomas to high school graduates. These institutions have been affected by COVID-19 as well. Students aren’t able to take classes like before.
Freelancing institutes offering to mold learners to skilled freelancers remain devoid of students, these days. Workshops to promote leadership and management skills are no longer held with the same gusto as before.
But, the silver lining in this difficult time lies in the fact that we’re trying to overcome these barriers. The virus has affected each and every single area of our lives. But, like the rest of the world, the Bangladeshi people stand united in their efforts to eliminate this ensuing crisis for good.
It is indeed true, that our education system has been largely crippled by this ongoing pandemic. However, by making the most of the various media outlets such as internet, national television, radio and the like, we can reverse some of the damage done by this nasty virus. Until this virus is wiped away for good, stay home, stay safe. It is in these darkest moments that we need to stay firm in our faith that the sun will rise once more and our educational journeys will revert back to its former glory.