Teaching-effectiveness in public or private universities
In the 21st Century world, humans are facilitated with modern approaches in most service sectors. Education as a service sector is no different. In developing countries, progression of this sector is going on with governmental efforts alongside global assistances. Bangladesh is benefiting from both of the wings. However, teaching-quality especially in public universities is now in question. The Daily Star reports (June 06, 2013), UGC's survey-study shows that standard of teaching in public universities appears to be very low.
However, teachers here receive salary, pension, get promoted, ensure permanency and enjoy subsidized facilitations, which are realities in public universities. It is palatable to believe that these advantages attract highly talented individuals to get jobs in public universities although salary amounts are very low. UGC's survey-study was over some oldest universities including University of Dhaka.
The findings and other realities are very alarming that raises questions:
a) Does Bossing-centre rather skills play role in ranking-promotions of a faculty? b) How does once talented become a dummy in teaching performance? c) Should teaching-effectiveness be quantified in today's Bangladesh? d) How should teaching for quality-education be designed & modelled for monitoring? e) Where do public and private universities stand in comparison teaching-efficiency? f) Why do public universities ahead of privates when comes doing research? g) Isn't it a dilemma of Govt. regulations? h) Is incompetence in teaching a by-product of regulatory oversights? i) Who are to blame for free-rides that burdens taxpayers?
Scientific studies are warranted to take on the challenges to answer the questions posed. The expected findings of the proposal can be instrumental to universities especially to public universities and to regulatory agencies. The debate about public versus private universities is no new. There are many differences that set them apart in Bangladesh. The biggest difference between public and private universities lies in price-tag. Private universities have significantly high tuition-fees. While there might have financial aid options, it is a heftier price-tag to start with. In contrast, since public universities are subsidized absolutely for nation's interests, the price-tag of graduating from a public university is very low.
On classroom-size to campus-acreage, public universities run much larger than any privates in Bangladesh. Speaking of size, privates have smaller classrooms and compact campus. However, a large campus provides plenty of on-campus options, which are missing in privates. On admission, public universities maintain competitive admission test.
However, at privates it is little fancy one, which ensures a win-win for parties involved. With the criterion, it is fair to say that most proficient students, with exception of preferred English medium students, get enrolled in public universities. Majority of English medium students prefer to continue university education abroad. Alternatively they prefer to go to leading private universities in Bangladesh. This is because it ensures classroom-lectures in English. In reality, majority students of privates come from the candidates who failed to enrol in public universities.
On educational knowledge, student-learning is assessed as post-test scores, learning gains, or normalized learning gains. Tests given prior to instruction are pre-tests (admission test) and those given after instruction (midterm) are post-tests. A single test, after instruction, may only assess knowledge and skills of students that were acquired prior to instruction. Students who do well on pre-tests tend to do well on post-tests.
With the status quo, it would not be overstated that students in publics have a range of knowledge and skills acquired before they step into classrooms. As a result, most classes have a range of pre-test scores, which is expected to be correlated to post-test scores. Thus, higher graduation rate or outstanding results or potentiality of securing a job does not ensure that students have received a quality education.
It does not ratify that teaching performance in publics is excellent. However, if these good things in a package happen in a private, it immediately ratifies that the said private university possess high quality education where teachers' performances are noteworthy. This is because it had dealt with most students who earlier failed to get enrolled in publics. Obviously, there are exceptions when comes students of English medium who did not even try to enrol in public universities.
This assessment is parallel to the views reported in the Daily Star, which says "Now private universities are not a substitute for the public ones rather they stand by their own credentials". Since number of private universities is increasing, gist of this analysis is now becoming realities in Bangladesh.
On affiliation, many teachers of public universities take classes in privates without giving due importance to their classes in publics. Secondly, majority of these teachers struggle to catch up with modern classroom-facilitation and lectures in English in most privates whereas 'Bangish' is a lecture-medium in public universities. These trends raise questions: why do public universities allow them doing part-time? Does hyped information here play role? Isn't it a misdeed of influential quarters? Do marketing-strategies of privates influence extending such opportunities? Isn't it free-ride -- a creation of public & private universities in presence of regulatory agencies?
All questions deserved to be investigated scientifically. Thus a comparative study of publics and private universities is imperative. Obviously, ensuring a quality education can guarantee good source of income - GDP as because students of neighbouring countries may choose here for higher education. It is safe to say that teachers' performance in private universities is more visible than that in publics. Thus, rather choosing public universities separately, a comparison study for policy recommendation is essential. Since effective-teaching is a precondition of quality-education, which is the backbone of rapid economic growth, government's further efforts may contribute significantly to establishing Sonar Bangle, the dream of the father of nation.
Thus underpinning UGC findings, this opinion piece is humbly submitted for Government's attention. UGC's guardianship can be an impetus to do further research for remedies for welfare of the nation we all dearly love.
Dr Akim M Rahman is an Assistant Professor at Canadian University of Bangladesh