Education experts in the country have welcomed the government's move to introduce a uniform system of education till the secondary level.
They stated that the one-way education will present clear goals till the Secondary School Certificate (SSC), thereby giving students, parents and schools ways to measure learners' progress.
However, alongside their praise, the educators have also urged the government to come up with steps so the new concept of education may be implemented successfully, ensuring quality.
The educators said this while sharing their views with The Business Standard (TBS) on Friday; following the declaration of Education Minister Dipu Moni in the Parliament that there will no longer be separate streams – like science, commerce and humanities – in grade 9 from 2022.
Previously, on 26 February this year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also said there is no need for group separation from grade 9.
"I think there should not be separate disciplines like science, arts and commerce at all," she added.
A former teacher at the Institute of Education and Research under Dhaka University, Prof Siddiqur Rahman, told The Business Standard that presently, the country runs unified education till grade 8.
The government wants to extend it to grade 10 which is a fantastic initiative since students have not reached full maturity when they are studying in grade 8, he shared.
"However, the government must ensure quality education by appointing skilled teachers," suggested Prof Siddiqur.
"This is not entirely new for our country. We had unified education up to grade 10 till 1962. The then government introduced group separation from grade 9," he recalled.
At that time, educators said there were six groups: Humanities, Science, Commerce, Industrial Arts, Home Economics, and Agriculture. This reduced to three in the 1990s.
It is impossible to ensure quality education without good teachers, and it would be disappointing if the education ministry remained oblivious regarding hiring good teachers, he maintained.
"We recommended forming an Education Service Commission under the National Education Policy, to recruit good teachers, but it has not been implemented – even 10 years after the policy was formulated," he added.
Prof Emeritus of Brac University Manzoor Ahmed told TBS that the government mulled over the idea of a uniform education system 10 years ago, but it was impossible to translate into reality due to opposition from different quarters.
"This is of course a good decision now on the part of the government. I welcome it," he said.
The initiative will fall flat if the schools fail to prepare their students to cope with the new system, Prof Manzoor said.
The emeritus professor recommended that the education ministry formulate a plan to implement the new syllabus while the schools hire skilled science and math teachers to ensure quality education – otherwise the new move will end in fiasco.
Prof Sadeka Halim, member of National Education Policy 2010, told TBS the government step is praiseworthy, but it should focus on how to enhance students' performance through the new education system.
She suggested basic subjects like history not be scrapped from the syllabus, which will help learners gain primary concepts about socio-economic issues.
Prof AKM Masud, former President of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Teachers' Association, told TBS that this is a new concept the education ministry is going to implement.
It has both positive and negative aspects, and it will be difficult to conclude anything before an assessment of the concept, he said.
"I think the concept requires more analysis. The government must study the impact of the concept, and at the same time, the students' adaptability to the new syllabus," he added.
Prof Narayan Chandra Saha, Chairman of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB), said the decision to commence a uniform education system abolishing group separation in grade 9 is wonderful.
"We formed a framework and uploaded it to our website for public comment; it remained active till 18 November," he said.
"Actually, it was delayed; many countries, including India, introduced a uniform syllabus long ago. Now, we are working on introducing one," he continued.
He went on to say that students cannot grow into full maturity at 13 or 14 years of age when they graduate from grade 8.
"That is why, we are planning to restructure the education system," he added.
The NCTB chairman said there are 15-16 subjects at SSC level which will be reduced to 10 through analysis of international examples, holding workshops and meetings with education experts.
According to NCTB sources, it has already identified 10 areas of subjects to be studied.
The ten are: science and technology, mathematics and logic, language and communication, information and communication technology, society and world citizenship, arts and culture, life and livelihood, environment and climate, values and ethics, and physical/mental health and wellness.
The education ministry source said students will get textbooks under the new curriculum in 2022, while textbooks under the existing curriculum will be available next year.