The Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the ministry of Planning recently released a report on Secondary Education Sector Development Project (SESDP). It has said that the eight billion taka for introducing creative questions in the secondary level has gone to waste. Still the teachers, students and guardians are afraid of this system though it was introduced eight years back. It has been introduced in the PSC, JSC, SSC and HSC level examinations giving only three days training to some selected teachers who themselves did not perceive the idea clearly but they cascaded the idea among other teachers resulting in very poor understanding among the teachers who constitute a magnanimous size. As an upshot of it, all the students, teachers and guardians have become fully dependent on note and guide books available in the market for developing questions, learning the idea and even teaching in the classroom.
The report says sixty percent students don’t understand it. The similar kind of report was released by Monitoring and Evaluation Unit of Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education under the Ministry of Education earlier this year. Asian Development Bank and the government of Bangladesh jointly financed the project at a cost of eight billion taka to bring about a positive and qualitative change in the primary and secondary levels as they form the basic stages of educating the nation. It was expected that the students would be more creative and the teaching learning situation would be suitably easier to them but actual picture stands far apart from this expectation. Both students and teachers still fully depend on the note and guidebooks available in the market though these books are not allowed to be sold openly. So, a hide and seek game continues. The note and guide book authorities are facing the threat of being banned. A great vacuum has developed here. Coaching centres and private tuition have come up to give some relief to the students and guardians as teachers fail to make them understand the real way of creative system. Students in most of the places have lost interest in the classroom as they hardly get the answers of their queries regarding creative questions. Similarly, teachers are losing interest in the matter because of it being tough and difficult. Teachers develop questions either taking the help from note and guide books or directly copy the questions from there. Coaching centers and private coaching have got momentum due to these existing loopholes.
The present ‘creative system’ is basically the structured question based on Bloom’s Taxomony. The decision makers probably did not think of whether the theory Bloom could be applied to all the subjects. All the four stages such as understanding, perception, application and higher order skill of Bloom’s Taxomony (it has six stages) can be applied equally in Bengali, Mathematics, Social Science, Bengali or other subjects were not considered in a sound manner. The scattered observation, research in small scale and assumption keep scope to ask this question whether the authorities thought of it. The present question system is absolutely a structured question as things are controlled, guided and directed in each question paper. Students are to answer them accordingly. Can we, however, call them ‘creative questions’? Creative means students must do something of their own. Again, the stem used in the question is another kind of problem. Most teachers cannot develop or discover stem properly. And setting stems does not always talk about creativity. They just tell the similarity of two situations which is not necessarily a creative question.
When a student is presented with a question like: ‘Why do you think traffic jam takes place frequently in the city of Dhaka? What possible, doable and practical suggestions can you put forward to ease the traffic jam of Dhaka City? Here students will have the scope to utilise their own thought, knowledge and innovative ideas that is creativity. But this question is set in this manner, ‘Shamim came to Dhaka from Barisal city in his last summer vacation. He went to Mirpur Zoo with his cousin. On the way he faced traffic jam. What differences or similarities does he find between Dhaka city and Barisal city?’ This kind of question does not fully talk about the creativity of a student.
What sort of difference has been made through the introduction of creative system in the country in the primary or secondary level calls for extensive observation and true professional research. No authentic research has been conducted on this affair yet. Biased or politically motivated research will not give the exact figure and picture. The project or the ministry must have strong research wing or a third party should be invited to conduct research in the greater interest of the nation.
What percentages of teachers have formed transparent idea about this system? Research should be conducted on this issue whether the existing teachers in the secondary level are competent enough to teach the topics creatively, develop creative questions and assess the creativity of the students either through formative assessment or summative assessment. Very irregular and scattered observations have been made sometimes by the monitoring team of any project or by some newspaper journalists. This actually does not reflect the whole truth of the story.
Things must be considered and reviewed whether the way and method the government used to bring the teachers under ‘creative system training program’ were suitable to bring more or less five hundred thousand secondary level teachers. The teachers also have some responsibilities so that they can grasp the system well. Only government training cannot ensure all the teachers sound idea about this system.
Examination questions both internal and public examinations should also be considered and analysed to see whether they really reflect the ‘creative system’. It is a must whether the question paper really reflects creativity of the students and a sound suggestion and recommendation should be made by a professional group. Questions are framed, trimmed and controlled in the name of creativity that should not be allowed to continue for the real betterment of our future generation. A portion of the country or area should be brought under survey or research rigorously to gauze the reasons whether the existing creative system really gives benefit to the students and our education system. The sample should be chosen very carefully so that it can give the real picture of this field and the authorities can take necessary measures. The sooner it could be done, the better.
The writer works for BRAC Education Program and formerly taught in Cadet Colleges, Rajuk College and BOU.