The present education system of Bangladesh may be broadly divided into three major stages, viz. primary, secondary and tertiary education. Primary level institutions impart primary education basically. Junior secondary/secondary and higher secondary level institutions impart secondary education. Degree pass, degree honors, masters and other higher-level institutions or equivalent section of other related institutions impart tertiary education. The education system is operationally categorized into two streams: primary education (Grade I-V) managed by the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME)) and the other system is the post-primary education which covers all other levels from junior secondary to higher education under the administration of the Ministry of Education (MOE). The post-primary stream of education is further classified into four types in terms of curriculum: general education, madrasah education, technical-vocational education and professional education.
1. General Education
a) Primary education
The first level of education is comprised of 5 years of formal schooling (class / grades I – V). Education, at this stage, normally begins at 6+ years of age up to 11 years. Primary education is generally imparted in primary schools. Nevertheless, other types of institutions like kindergartens and junior sections attached to English medium schools are also imparting it.
b) Secondary education
The second level of education is comprised of 7 (3+2+2) years of formal schooling. The first 3 years (grades VI-VIII) is referred to as junior secondary; the next 2 years (grades IX -X) is secondary while the last 2 years (grades XI – XII) is called higher secondary.
There is diversification of courses after three years of schooling in junior secondary level. Vocational and technical courses are offered in vocational and trade institute/schools. Moreover, there are high schools where SSC (vocational) courses have been introduced.
In secondary education, there are three streams of courses such as, Humanities, Science and Business Education, which start at class IX, where the students are free to choose their course(s) of studies.
High schools are managed either by government or private individuals or organizations. Most of the privately managed secondary schools provide co-education.
The academic programme terminates at the end of class X when students are to appear at the public examination called S.S.C. (Secondary School Certificate). The Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Educations (BISE) conduct the S.S.C. examination. There are seven such Boards at different places in Bangladesh namely: Dhaka, Rajshahi, Jessore, Comilla, Chittagong, Sylhet, and Barisal.
The secondary education is designed to prepare the students to enter into the higher secondary stage. In higher secondary stage, the course is of two-year duration (XI – XII) which is being offered by Intermediate Colleges or by intermediate section of degree or master colleges.
c) Tertiary Education
The third stage of education is comprised of 2-6 years of formal schooling. The minimum requirement for admission to higher education is the higher secondary certificate (H.S.C). HSC holders are qualified to enroll in 3-year degree pass courses while for honours, they may enroll in 4-year bachelors’ degree honours courses in degree level colleges or in the universities. After successful completion of a pass/honours bachelors’ degree course, one can enroll in the master’s degree course. Master degree courses are of one year for honours bachelor degree holders and 2 years for pass bachelor degree holders. For those aspiring to take up M.Phil and Ph.D courses in selected disciplines or areas of specialization, the duration is of 2 years for M.Phil and 3-4 years for Ph.Ds after completion of master’s degree. Higher education is being offered in the universities and post HSC level colleges and institutes of diversified studies in professional, technical, technological and other special types of education.
There are 73 universities in Bangladesh. Out of these, 21 universities are in the public sector, while the other 52 are in the private sector. Out of 21 public sector universities, 19 universities provide regular classroom instruction facilities and services. Bangladesh Open University (BOU) conducts non-campus distance education programmes especially in the field of teacher education and offers Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) and Master of Education (M.Ed) degrees. Bangladesh National University mainly functions as an affiliating university for degree and post-graduate degree level education at different colleges and institutions in different field of studies. But in case of fine arts this university also offers Pre-Degree BFA Course (which is equivalent to HSC).After successful completion of the specified courses, it conducts final examinations and awards degree, diplomas and certificates to the successful candidates. The degrees are B.A., B.S.S., B.Sc., B.Com. (Pass & Honours) BFA(Pass), M.A., M.Sc., M.S.S, M.Com. and MFA. Moreover, this university also offers LL.B., and other degrees. Bangladesh National University offers part-time training to university teachers.
There is only one medical university namely, “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University”, like other public universities, offers courses on a different system where FCPS Degree is offered in the disciplines of medical education; diploma courses are offered in 12 disciplines, MD degree in 15 subjects and MS courses on 8 subjects are also offered.
2. Madrasah Education
The old scheme of madrasah education was introduced in 1780 with the establishment of Calcutta Madrasah. In madrasah education, one can learn Islamic religious education along with the general education as complementary to each other in the system of education. The madrasah education system has been continuing with some modifications according to the demand of the time, and many madrasahs grew up in this sub-continent. The government has been providing government grants to the teachers and employees of the non-government madrasahs like other non-government education institutions (schools and colleges). There are five levels in the madrasah education system, namely:
a. Primary level or ebtedayee education.
This is equivalent to primary level of general education. The first level of madrasah education is comprised of 5 years of schooling (grades I – V). Normally, the children of 6 years of age begins in class 1 and finishes class V at the age of 11 years. Ebtedayee education is imparted in independent ebtedayee madrasahs and ebtedayee sections of dhakhil, alim, fazil and kamil madrasahs. It is also imparted in some of the private quami – kharizi madrasahs.
b. Secondary level.
The secondary level of madrasah education is comprised of 7 (5+2) years of formal schooling. It takes five years in dhakhil stage (S.S.C. level) from grade VI – X while the last 2 years in alim (higher secondary) stage. Dhakhil level education is imparted in dhakhil madrasahs and in dhakhil level of alim, fazil and kamil madrasahs. Alim is equivalent to higher secondary certificate education imparted to alim madrasahs and in alim level of fazil and kamil madrasahs.
There are diversification of courses after three years of schooling in secondary level of education from grade IX of dhakhil stage and grade XI of alim stage. There are streams of courses such as humanities, science and business education, where students are free to choose their courses of studies. Private individuals or private bodies manage all madrasahs of this level. Most of these madrasahs provide co-education. However, there are some single gender madrasahs in this level of madrasah education. There are two public examinations namely; dhakhil and alim after the completion of 10 years of schooling and twelve years of education, respectively. The Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board (BMEB) provides these two certificates.
c. Tertiary level of madrasah education.
This level is comprised of 4 (2+2) years of formal education. The minimum requirement for admission to higher level of madrasah education is the alim (equivalent to HSC) certificates . Alim pass students are qualified to enroll in 2-year fazil education. This level of education is imparted in fazil madrasah and in fazil level of kamil madrasahs. After successful completion of fazil degree one can enroll in 2 -years kamil level education. There are four streams of courses in kamil level education; streams are hadis, tafsir, fiqh and adab. Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board conducts these two fazil and kamil examinations and award certificates. After successful completion of the specified courses one can appear these examinations.
Out of the total kamil the government manages madrasahs only three madrasahs and others are managed by either individual or by private bodies. However, there are few girls’ madrasah for girl students.
The Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board has the following functions as regard to madrasah education: grants affiliations to different levels of madrasahs from ebtedayee to kamil; prescribes syllabi and curricula; conducts public examinations (dhakhil to kamil) and scholarship examinations. Besides the public system of madrasah education there are a good number of private madrasahs for the Muslim students, namely: hafizia, qiratia, quami and nizamiah. Most of these madrasahs are residential. These types of madrasah are sometimes called kharizia as these are beyond the purview of the general system of education. Recently, these quami madrasahs have been organized under the umbrella of a private board known as ‘Befaqul Madaris or Quami Madrasah Board which constitutes curricula and syllabi of quami madrasahs, conducts examinations and awards certificates and degrees.
3. Technical – Vocational
For the students whose interests are not strictly academic may find technical-vocational programmes more interesting and more valuable for their future. Government tries to ensure that the course curriculum should be relevant to students’ interest and aspirations while at the same time it should address the needs of the job market.
a. Primary level.
There is no technical-vocational institution in primary level of education. Ebtedayee in the first level (Primary level) of madrasah education has no scope for technical-vocational education. Accordingly, technical – vocational education in Bangladesh is designed in three phases under two major levels of secondary and tertiary level of education.
b. Secondary level
Vocational courses starts from secondary level. The certificate courses prepare skilled workers in different vocations starting from ninth grade after completion of three years of schooling in secondary school. At this level the courses are diversified in different vocations spread over 1 to 2 years duration. Recently, 2 years duration vocational courses have been introduced at the higher secondary level in government managed vocational training institute (renamed as Technical School & College). Diploma courses prepare the diploma engineers at the polytechnic institutes. This course spread over 4 years duration after passing the secondary school certification examination. There is a technical education board called Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB), which grants affiliation to the technical institutes. It conducts examinations of the students completing different courses in different vocational and technical education, and awards certificates to the successful candidates.
4. Professional Education
The College of Textile Technology and College of Leather Technology offer four -year degree courses in Textile Engineering and Leather Technology respectively after completing Higher Secondary Education. The minimum requirement to be admitted to teachers training colleges (TTCs) for Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Physical Education in Physical Education College is graduation degree. Generally, in-service teachers undertake this professional training course along with some unemployed graduates. Professional education also imparted in Medical Colleges, Dental Colleges, Nursing College, Homeopathic Colleges, Law Colleges etc.
Education system in Bangladesh is being managed and administered by two Ministries viz. Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME) in association with the attached Departments and Directorates as well as a number of autonomous bodies.
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