Dhaka Courier

Challenges and Opportunities for Educational Change in Bangladesh

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​​​​​​​Research and Educational Change in Bangladesh, Edited by: Janinka Greenwood, John Everatt, Ariful Haq Kabir and Safayet Alam, 1st Published in July 2013 by the University of Dhaka, as a collaboration between University of Canterbury & University of Dhaka, Pages: 279, ISBN: 978-984-510-009-0

Research is a pre-requisite for any successful educational planning which can change teaching-learning practices to improve educational outcomes for every learner regardless of their ethnicity, gender, physical, cognitive, emotional or social challenge. The book “Research and Educational Change in Bangladesh” attempts to explore a number of research studies conducted by Bangladeshi as well as western educational researchers. It addresses current challenges in education in Bangladesh, using a range of research tools to investigate practices and attitudes. In some cases it indicates problems, but it also explores opportunities for change. The book includes articles that consider more general historical and policy contexts of educational reform in Bangladesh, including the implementation of inclusive education practices, as well as factors that can support change, such as creativity/criticality and successful leadership. It also contains articles/chapters that also focus on specific areas of education and curriculum; from better training in the use of technology in classrooms to improvements in science and language education.

The book contains fifteen chapters which cover a range of issues across different levels of education. The first chapter entitled “Neo-liberalism, International Financial Institutions (IFIs), and a Vision for Higher Education in Bangladesh”, contributed by Dr. Ariful Haq Kabir, a faculty at the Institute of Education & Research (IER), Dhaka University, focuses on the higher education sector in Bangladesh, covering its background and move towards neo-liberalism from the 1990s. The author critically examines the formulation of higher education policy and how such policy is often shaped by the interests of those in power. Kabir draws our attention to a recent development in higher education, the introduction of the ‘Strategic Plan for Higher Education (SPHE)’ by the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh. He argues that the historical, social and cultural contexts of the country were rarely considered in formulating SPHE. The author also discusses how private universities are increasingly becoming a symbol as well as a mechanism of the power elite’s involvement in the higher education sector and help to reduce state responsibility for this sector.

In the second chapter on “Operational Curriculum and Citizenship: An Exploration of What Happens in the Bangladesh Secondary School Classroom”, Safayet Alam (University of Canterbury) attempts to explore the ways in which present teaching-learning practices in secondary classrooms address the need to develop creative and critical citizenry in both local and global contexts. The author argues that the present teaching-learning practices, which involve rote learning and private coaching, reduce the social awareness which is needed to motivate a desire to cultivate a critical and committed citizenry.

The third chapter entitled“Creativity, Criticality and Change” by Professor Dr. Janinka Greenwood (University of Canterbury) shows that the development of creativity in our classrooms and in our educational research is a vital component in enabling students, teachers and researchers to address and influence the direction of change. The author argues that while ‘creativity’ provides vision and energy, ‘criticality’ is also required to examine, analyze and evaluate direction and outcomes. Any successful change requires the proper implementation and application of both.

Chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 shed light on the topics of language and language teaching with special attention to Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach in Bangladesh.  The eighth chapter, contributed by Dr. Mohammod Moninoor Rashid (IER, Dhaka University) and Professor Sue Webb (Monash University), on “From Workplace Learning to Work Integrated Learning for English Communication Skills: Professional Development in an International Business Sector” explores how professionals in the ready-made garments (RMG) sector in Bangladesh become proficient at developing the required communication skills through workplace learning in order to operate in the global business. Based on the findings of their study, the authors propose introducing ‘Work Integrated Learning (WIL)’ at the higher education sector in Bangladesh which blends theoretical knowledge with practical experience in preparing graduates for industry.

The next three articles, presented in chapters 9, 10 and 11 respectively, examine the issues of science and technology in education as prioritized areas of change in Bangladesh education. Dr. Mahbub Sarkar (Monash University) examines the concept of science literacy and relates this to the goal of enabling learners to apply science learning in everyday life, not just in the classroom.  Dr. S M Hafizur Rahman (IER, University of Dhaka) discusses his own intervention study which attempts to investigate how a new teaching approach (Predict Observe Explain – POE) enables teachers to engage in professional learning through observing, sharing and challenging each other’s teaching practice. Md. Ahsanul Arefin Chowdhury (Govt. Teachers’ Training College, Bangladesh) examines the issue of integrating ‘Information and Communication Technology (ICT)’ in teacher education. His research findings show that successful use of ICT in education requires a holistic change in all the curricular components, instruction, assessment, professional development, and academic culture.

Chapters 12 and 13 focus on issues of educational leadership as part of the process of change in Bangladesh. Abu Nayeem Mohammad Salahuddin (IER, Dhaka University) examines a range of initiatives that school leaders (headmasters or principals) can take for the improvement of education within their schools. He also attempts to explore the gap between current practice and desired outcomes in terms of international literatures, providing an overview of the challenges facing school leaders and possible implications for policy. Dr. Md. Abdus Salam (IER, University of Dhaka) and G. M. Rakibul Islam (Govt. Teachers’ Training College, Bangladesh) examine the conceptual understandings and practices of teacher leadership in the Non-Formal Primary Education (NFPE) in Bangladesh. They also discuss how NFPE can, with the right policy decisions and training, offer a basis for effective and inclusive second chance educational opportunities in Bangladesh.

The final two chapters (14 & 15) focus on inclusive education, an emerging issue in the current educational systems across the world.  Md. Saiful Malak (IER, Dhaka University) examines pre-service special education teachers’ attitudes towards the inclusion in mainstream classrooms of students with special educational needs. The book concludes with the article (chapter 15) “Inclusive Education at Secondary Level in Bangladesh: Challenges and Recommendations” by Tania Afreen Khan (Govt. Teachers’ Training College, Bangladesh), Dr. Muhammed Mahbubur Rahman (IER, University of Dhaka) and Garry Hornby, Dean Sutherland, John Everatt & Janinka Greenwood (University of Canterbury). The authors attempt to discuss more general issues of inclusive education as well as identify the barriers to full inclusion and suggest possible strategies to overcome those barriers.

The chapters/ articles of this book demonstrate a growing research base for future educational changes in Bangladesh.  The authors’ expertise on diverse educational fields of research make this book an important reference guide for academics, researchers, policy-makers, students and educational professionals a whole. Foreword by Professor Dr. Gail Gillon (University of Canterbury), this publication is a valuable contribution to the literature on Education.

The writer is an independent researcher. E-mail: smrayhanulislam@hotmail.com

  • Challenges and Opportunities for Educational Change in Bangladesh
  • Vol 36
  • S. M. Rayhanul Islam
  • Issue 2
  • DhakaCourier

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