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Make sure accountability in the curriculum formation

Published : Tuesday, 14 November, 2017 at 12:00 AM Count : 102

The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) alleged that based on the demands of a specific communal group, National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) arbitrarily changed some of the textbook contents in primary and secondary levels this year. TIB researcher Morsheda Akhter conducted the study titled ''National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB): Challenge of Good Governance and a Way out in Writing Manuscript and Publication Management''.

According to this study, sixteen write-ups from five textbooks in primary and secondary levels have been excluded. Among those, 11 poems were removed based on the demand of the specific group. This watchdog organization said, it also found irregularities and corruption in the formulation of textbooks including writing manuscript, publication and distribution.    

TIB said the irregularities and corruption mostly took place in the ten levels of formulating textbook manuscript -- formation of committee, workshop, forming of writers panel, selection of contents and use of words, recruiting content expert, coordination between writer and editor, editing, recruiting proofreader, use of try-out method and manuscript preservation.

According to the TIB, ruling party loyalists get preference as members in the committee and in some cases; members get excluded from it though they are competent. In workshop there was lack of right policy. Favouritism played an important role in selecting participants. In many cases, participants' opinions are not accepted.   

In the textbook writer panel some of the members included in the group do not have any clear idea about the topic of the lesson. Selections of topics are influenced by religion and communal ideology. Topic and words of textbooks are changed with the change in the government. And in many cases, experts are not invited for conducting the process. Points are added and removed without notifying the concerned writers. Distortion of the original poems, spelling mistakes and incoherent topics and photos are evident in the publication.

This is alarming but not new findings. In March, the High Court questioned the legality of bringing changes in the textbooks of primary and secondary levels by excluding write-ups of some reputed authors. The court issued a rule asking the authorities concerned to show causes of changes.  The education secretary and chairman of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) had been made respondents to the rule.

We understand that change is a continuous process in the education system. But it should be in line with the need of time, culture and constitution. As a secular State, Bangladesh is not supposed to promote religious biases in the national curriculum. At the same time, formation of the curriculum process needs to be corruption free since it's the matter of our future.

It's the responsibility of the Education Ministry to ensure that otherwise it would be a betrayal with the spirit of independence and the promise of forming an inclusive educated society. We urge government to take necessary steps to make sure the accountability in the curriculum formation process and stop the communalization of the education system. 

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