Secondary education is very important for the people of Bangladesh, as people start entering the job market after completing their SSC. The other students go for higher secondary education. This is also a preparatory ground for many students for higher education. So, an effective secondary education is very important for sustainable human resource development as well as national economic growth.
At present, about 10 million learners are getting education through 20 thousand secondary level institutes. Quantitatively, the secondary education in Bangladesh is increasing day by day. But its quality is seriously questionable. No doubt, quality of education largely depends on a well-planned curriculum as well as effective classroom teaching-learning activities.
Our present secondary education curriculum is not up to the mark to meet the various national and global challenges. WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF have been giving emphasis on introducing ‘Life Skill Based Education (LSBE)’ for many years. LSBE aims to provide students with strategies to make healthy choices that contribute to a meaningful life. Actually, life skills are the psycho-social and interpersonal skills that enable the learners to succeed in the environments (i.e. family, school, workplace, neighbourhood, community etc.) in which they live.
The need for effective teaching-learning practices in the classroom is steadily being recognised as a prerequisite to quality education. But, unfortunately, the classroom teaching-learning activities in our secondary schools are very traditional. Any learner-centered or participatory method and joyful teaching-learning activities are hardly applied in the classrooms. Teaching aids are also not used in most of the cases. Even white/black board is not used properly. Creative questions in the exams were introduced, but creative teaching-learning activities are being ignored. What a paradox!
Qualified teachers are the major components for ensuring quality education. But, many secondary school teachers have poor academic qualification and training. Many of them have lack of motivation and professionalism as they were forced to join teaching profession after they had not got other jobs. The over-dependence of our students on note book, guide book, private-tutor and coaching center is another major problem of quality education. Reduction of contact hours in schools, high student-teacher ratio, inadequate infrastructure facilities, corruption in the evaluation and exam system, lack of qualified English and Science teachers, lack of library facility and lack of inspection and supervision are some of the causes of poor quality of our secondary education.
As quality education is a prerequisite for producing skilled human resources and national socioeconomic development, qualitative change in our secondary education system should be the most important priority of the day. Present secondary education must be upgraded. Life skill education should be incorporated in the curriculum. In an era of rapid moral degradation, we should emphasize to teach moral education. Our present religious education should be re-framed. This education should not limit itself only to religious customs and rituals; rather it must seek to build up the moral character of the students so that they will be encouraged to acquire noble virtues, honesty, patriotism, courage etc.
Recruitment of academically qualified and trained teachers must be ensured. Initiatives should be taken to create motivation among teachers through appropriate incentives. Side by side, coaching and private-tutoring by the teachers should be banned. Regular monitoring and supervision of academic activities and accountability of teachers should be ensured. Adequate infrastructural facilities in the schools should be ensured.
It is true that improving the quality of secondary education is a great challenge. But with the assistance of a team of properly qualified, skilled and committed teachers, the concerned authorities can ensure a quality secondary education for all.