Rafiq dreamed of changing the education system after being appointed as a primary school headmaster in the non-cadre 34th Bangladesh Civil Service.
He joined a school in Gaibandha with much enthusiasm and tried his best to make his institution a place for better primary education.
But, it did not take long for him to be disillusioned. Consequently, he left the job.
Poor salary, a lack of social value and other facilities were behind the decision.
Now, Rafiq works as an officer at the Bangladesh Bank. The case of Rafiq is only one example of the overall situation of the country's teaching profession.
"Teachers have a vital role in building of a nation. But in Bangladesh, they have no social value. That is why talented students quit this profession," said
Pathan Md Saiduzzaman, who also left teaching and joined the administration through the 34th BCS.
The government appointed 898 primary school headmasters, a non-cadre and second-class post, from the 34th BCS and another 350 from the 36th.
At least 60 percent of these teachers left their job.
The scenario at the public universities is quite different as teachers there enjoy more economic and social value. But the condition of secondary and higher secondary schools and even degree or honours level colleges is not like that.
According to a 2017 report by the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the planning ministry, 60 percent students think they require private tuition to understand creative questions properly. Another report by the Directorate of
Secondary and Higher Education said over 50 percent teachers were unable to prepare creative questions for their students.
According to the data of the Bangladesh Public Service Commission, more than 4.12 lakh candidates applied for 1,903 posts in the 40th BCS.
But less than 1 percent of these applicants chose general education as their first preferred field of profession.
Officials from the education ministry said the government is concerned about the situation.
They said reformation in the system is a must.
Secretary for primary and mass education Md Akram-al-Hossain said, "We are working to reduce the discrimination in teachers' salaries."
Senior Secretary of the education ministry Md Sohrab Hossain said, "We are trying to take teachers to a prestigious status. We are now emphasising teachers' training so that they can produce quality manpower for the nation."
Educationist Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Chowdhury criticised the current education system.
"The creative question system has no connection to the textbooks. It is harmful to the education system. Neither students nor teachers have a clear idea of what the creative questions mean. This has created a dependence on coaching centres and guide books," he said.
Educationist Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam said the government must ensure the social value and good salary for teachers.
"Professional knowledge and skills of teachers are the most important factors for quality education. This requires stronger training upfront and continual professional development and support to strengthen performance and the learning outcomes," he added.
Teachers' training and outcome
There are around 1.34 lakh government and non-government schools in the country employing 6.24 lakh teachers. Of them, 65,000 are government schools with more than 3.70 lakh teachers.
Of the total teachers, 2.39 lakh received the Certificate-in-Education training while 11,312 received the Diploma-in-Education certificates.
According to a World Bank report, there is a huge learning gap in the schools in Bangladesh.
It observed that 35 percent of the students who passed grade three cannot even read Bangla comprehensively.
It identified the low quality of teaching practices as a major cause for the poor learning condition of the students.
"Bangladesh has to provide required and qualitative teachers, develop the workforce with market-relevant skills, promoting research and higher education with equal participation from all," the report said.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics, around 2.44 lakh teachers are in the 20,467 secondary educational institutions – 63 percent of them received training.
Only 21 percent madrasa teachers are trained.
Teachers' Day 2019
With such reality Bangladesh is observing the World Teachers' Day today, the theme for this year being "Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession."
The World Teachers' Day, observed on October 5 since 1994, celebrates teachers and their role in meeting the needs of future generations.
The Sustainable Development Goal 4 of the United Nations has pledged to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030.
To achieve that goal the number of qualified teachers must be increased, said the UN.