Bangladesh Church kept away from drafting education policy

Over 100,000 students study in Catholic institutions and govt should have involved all stakeholders, say church leaders

Marist Brother Eugenio Sanz teaches a class at St. Marcellin High School in Moulvibazar, Bangladesh, on June 1. (Photo: Stephan Uttom / UCA News)

Published: June 24, 2022 09:19 AM GMT

Updated: June 24, 2022 09:23 AM GMT

Church officials in Bangladesh say they have been sidelined while drafting the nation’s education policy despite managing one of the largest networks of institutions, second only to the government.

More than 100,000 students, mostly non-Christians, study in the single university, 17 colleges, 43 secondary schools and 278 primary-cum-junior high schools run by the Church, according to the Catholic Directory of 2019.

“We welcome that the government will embrace modernity and bring about change in education policy but in this change the government should involve academics and those who are involved in education. Education policy is not done only by government bureaucrats, ”Jyoti Gomes, secretary of the Bangladesh Catholic Education Board Trust (BCEBT), told UCA News.

He said the Catholic Church is a key part of education in Bangladesh but was not a part of the proposed education policy.

The new draft policy will be sent to the cabinet division next week, said Abu Bakr Siddique, secretary of the secondary and higher education division.

“We have tried to involve all concerned parties while making the education policy. But it is not possible to involve all institutions. It is still a draft and there is scope for further discussion, ”Siddique told UCA News.

The draft proposes a law wherein anybody found printing, publishing and marketing notebooks and guidebooks could face three years’ imprisonment along with a fine of 500,000 taka (US $ 5,388).

Catholic schools and colleges are known to prescribe their own notebooks and hence could invite action if the draft becomes law.

The policy further disallows teachers from giving private tuition and punishing students.

“Not every student has the same [learning] capacity. Some have to go for private tuition. If we do not allow our teachers to teach them, they will go somewhere else, ”Gomes said.

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