Pointer to incumbents’ failure to address urban-rural divide
IT IS indeed disturbing that, like previous years, rural students have lagged far behind their peers in urban areas in this year’s Higher Secondary Certificate examinations. As mentioned in a New Age report on Thursday, the HSC results published on Wednesday show that, except under the Barisal education board, where the best 20 colleges are divided evenly between urban and rural areas, the overwhelming majority of such colleges under all the education boards across the country are from urban areas. To be precise, while only one out of the 20 colleges that top the list of the best colleges under Dhaka board is located in rural areas, the number of such institutions in the list of top 20 colleges of Rajshahi board, Comilla board, Jessore board, Chittagong board, Sylhet board and Dinajpur board is respectively five, four, two, two and seven. Meanwhile, one needs to take note of the fact that most of all these rural institutions are situated in upazila headquarters and thus easily conclude that the less said about the institutions located in remote or backward areas the better. Moreover, it can also be concluded that the failure of the rural students, that too in an unabated manner, to catch up to their counterparts in urban areas yet again provides a glaring example of the ruling class’s general bias towards urban areas when it concerns pursuing development policies.
Rural educational institutions — be they schools or colleges — have continued to fall victim to overall indifference on the part of successive governments since independence. Consequently, while the urban educational institutions at large, including the state-sponsored cadet colleges that every year have allocations much higher than a normal public college gets, are highly privileged, especially in terms of infrastructure and teaching staff, their rural counterparts lack even adequate classrooms let alone laboratories, libraries and skilled teachers. In addition, thanks to rampant commercialisation pursued by the recent governments, conditions of the latter institutions have taken a turn for the worse. Under such circumstances, on the other hand, the affluent sections of rural population have increasingly either settled in the urban areas over the years or sent their children to urban educational institutions. What is, however, more regrettable is that, in contravention to its election pledge to bridge this urban-rural yawning gap at least in terms of education, which has been incorporated in its much-touted education policy adopted by the parliament in 2010, the incumbent Awami league-Jatiya party government has done little in this regard thus far. In fact, without overhauling the prevailing socio-economic policies in line with the constitution that prohibits all sorts of discriminations, including regional one, and ensures equal opportunities for all citizens to achieve their fullest potential, the expectations to narrow down the gap between urban and rural students may remain a far cry. Hence, the incumbents need to take immediate steps to this end.
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