Education Commission The earliest attempt for reform and restructuring of education system in British India was the outcome of the wood’s educational despatch of 1854 resulting from an enquiry about education in India by the Select Committee of the British House of Commons which provided the legal foundation for modern public education in Bengal. Establishment of educational departments in every province, foundation of universities and graded schools, introduction of supervision system, grant-in-aid for private schools, teachers' training institutions, creating a comprehensive secular system of education for the diffusion of practical knowledge using both English and the Vernacular languages, were the major outcome of Wood's Despatch. Secondary education as a distinct level of the total education structure emerged only after the publication of the Despatch. Wood's Despatch was one of the first documents advocating formal education for girls in Bengal.
In 1882, lord ripon appointed the first Indian Education Commission with William Hunter as its chairman. The Commission suggested for leaving secondary education to private enterprise through a system of grants-in-aid, holding of school and Entrance examinations and appointment of trained teachers at secondary schools. After the Indian Education Conference at Simla in 1901 lord curzon published his education policy in the form of a government resolution in 1904 which contributed to the increase of vernacularization at high school level especially in public schools, catered for the masses.
Under the reforms of 1919-1921 the elementary education was made free within municipalities and rural unions, and in Bengal the first steps towards universal primary education were taken through the Bengal Primary Education Act, 1930. A provincial department of education was established in 1930, and thus began the process of centralization and bureaucratization of education. Consequently, the enactment of the Bengal Education Code 1931 was a landmark legislation that created the District School Board as the administrative body for primary and secondary education. A central Advisory Board was established in 1935 for policy formulation in education recommended by the Hartog Committee of 1927.
After the partition of India in 1947 efforts were made to reform the education system in Pakistan. The first education conference was held in Karachi in 1947 (27 Novermber'1 December) to reassess the colonial education system and to restructure the existing system with due regard to ideological and literary considerations of a new country, Pakistan. The second major area taken into consideration was the training and development of scientific and technical manpower. The third point of the agenda was to plan education in conformity with national heritage and aspirations. With this end in view successive education commissions were formed from time to time to suggest ways and means for reform and restructure of the education system in the country.
Maulana Akram Khan Education Commission (1949) The first education commission in Pakistan was appointed by the government in 1949 with an object of reassessing the existing education system and for suggesting reform and restructuring the education system. The commission was headed by Maulana Mohammad Akram Khan and came to be known as Maulana Akram Khan Committee on Education. The Commission submitted its report in 1952.
Ataur Rahman Khan Education Commission (1957) The Government of East Pakistan appointed an education commission in January 1957 to suggest the ways and means for reforms in all levels of education in the province with Ataur Rahman Khan as its chairman. The Commission submitted its report in 1957 suggesting reforms in primary, secondary and in higher education levels.
The Commission suggested for introduction of free and compulsory primary education throughout the province of East Pakistan and to bring the primary schools under direct control of the government. The commission assigned five-years course for primary and six years course for secondary education, and suggested for the establishment of junior high school with three years course (classes vi to viii) and senior high school with three years course (classes ix to xi) or high school with full six years course. Secondary schools were to be established uniformly in all the areas of the province, one junior high school for 25 thousand population and one senior high school for 50 thousand of population. The sanction of government grants to the schools was made mandatory in the report and an uniform rate of tuition fee of the students was suggested. The Commission advocated for the mother tongue or regional language as the medium of education at secondary level, and also as the compulsory subject. To create incentive and to encourage the girls to education, the female students in secondary level were to be entitled to tuition fee free education. The Commission advocated for the abolition of intermediate course and introduction of three years degree course.
The commission suggested syllabi for primary and secondary education. These are the introduction of decimal system in Mathematics at primary level, inclusion of subjects like language, social studies, general science, mathematics, religion or ethics, painting, songs and music, handicrafts, gymnastics and health studies in junior high school. The syllabi in senior high schools should include diverse and multilateral subjects such as compulsory ontology, science, technical subjects, commerce, agriculture, domestic science and Islamic studies etc.
Commission on National Education (1958) The Commission was formed by the Government of Pakistan on 30 December 1958 with S.M Sharif, the West Pakistan Education Secretary, as the chairman and ten educationists as members. The Commission is also known as Sharif Commission after the name of its chairman. President Ayub Khan while inaugurating the Commission in January 1959 set out the mandate to evolve a national system of education that would reflect the spiritual, moral and cultural values of independent Pakistan, and enable the system to meet the growing needs of the nation by assisting development in the fields of agriculture, science and technology.
The Commission in its report submitted in December 1959 took education as a productive activity and a national investment in human resource development and recommended the following: (a) Encouragement should be given to the development of residential secondary schools; (b) Secondary school curriculum should include a core of compulsory subjects along with a few optional ones with a technical and vocational bias; (c) The conducting of Intermediate courses should be vested upon the Boards of Secondary Education instead of the universities; (d) The degree courses, both pass and honours, should be of three years duration; (e) Comprehensive' scholarship programmes for the gifted students should stretch from beyond the primary stage to the top and (f) provision should be made for adequate facilities for female education.
Since the educational expansion in this part of the world to a large extent had been the product of private effort and enterprise, and the role of the state remained confined to a bare minimum, the Commission called upon both the government and the people to undertake a larger share of the burden than they had so far been doing. So the Commission proposed that while the government and the community should equally share the cost of primary education, three-fifths of the cost of secondary education should come from fees. In higher education, the community should bear a larger portion of the cost than before.
The Sharif Commission Report was comprehensive in its study and recommendations. It emphasized universal primary schooling, eradicating illiteracy and promoting the national language, among others. The Commission also incorporated suggestions for a few basic changes in the administrative set-up, such as decentralizing the management of primary education, revamping the examination system, and envisaging a new management structure for technical education. The objectives of this report for secondary education may be encapsulated as follows: 'To develop (a) a good worker, (b) a good citizen, (c) a good individual and (d) a good patriot. Thus, though the policy set aims and objectives relevant to the needs of a new state, it failed to provide a clear-cut strategy to attain them for want of an implementation plan.
The Sharif Commission Report was rejected outright by the students in East Pakistan who found the whole tone and tenor of the report reactionary and against the interests of the Bangalis. The denial of any political rights of the students and their right to maintain liaison with political parties, restriction on available opportunities for higher education by imposing strict conditions of enrolment, promotion and by raising the standard of public examinations, three years degree course, heavy load of English language course in higher secondary level, imposing a much heavier load of coursework under the new proposed syllabus, proposal for enhancement of tuition fees at schools and colleges, all these measures induced the students community to forge a movement against the implementation of the Sharif Commission Report. When the movement got momentum in 1964 the government was compelled to come to a truce and declare an instant end to the implementation of the report of the Commission.
Commission on Students Problems and Welfare (1964) The Sharif Commission Report having been denounced by the student community in favour of a progressive education policy, the Government of Pakistan appointed a new commission in 1964 as Commission on students problems and welfare headed by Justice Hamoodur Rahman. The Commission in its report criticized the elitist system of education of the country which did not fit in with principles of equality and social justice. The Commission reported: 'The idea of superior and inferior schools does not fit in with our socio-economic pattern and principles of equality and social justice as enunciated by Islam which have been declared as the avowed policy of the state in the preamble of our Constitution.
Air Marshal Nur Khan Commission (1969) In 1969, General Yahya's government appointed a commission with Air Marshal Nur Khan at its head to suggest ways and means for overhauling the educational system. The rationale behind yet another educational policy was that education had failed to promote national cohesion, especially on account of separatist feelings of the people of East Pakistan, and that it had not played its proper role in national development. There was a high rate of unemployment among the educated youth and academic standard was low. This policy visualized the promotion of a common set of cultural values based on the precepts of Islam. Creating a literate society and developing vocational and technical manpower was its focal point. The recommendations given for changing this vision into reality were to integrate madrasahs into the normal school system and bring the latter in line with ideological demands, to integrate primary and middle schools with elementary schools, to undertake a massive programme of adult education, to decentralize educational administration and to establish the University Grants Commission. This Commission also recommended Urdu and Bangla, instead of English, to be the medium of instruction in Pakistan by 1975.
National Education Commission (1972) The first education commission in Bangladesh styled as National Education Commission was formed on 26 July 1972 headed by an eminent educationist and scientist Dr. Qudrat-i-Khuda. The functioning of this National Education Commission was formally inaugurated on 24 September 1972 by the Prime Minister Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This National Education Commission also came to be known as Qudrat-i-Khuda Education Commission after the name of its chairman.
The Commission collected opinions from the elitist people in the form of questionnaire, and after careful sorting of the opinions prepared a report suggesting reconstruction of the education system of the country. The Commission submitted its report to the government on 30 May 1974.
The report of the Commission was formulated and based on the socio-economic and political condition and cultural heritage of the country. The perspectives of this scenario of the education system of the contemporary world was also taken into consideration. The Commission report emphasized on secular education at all-level, future work relevant technical and vocational education. It suggested some major changes in the primary, secondary and higher secondary stages of education.
According to the Commission report, primary education was to be of 8 years duration consisting of class i to class viii and secondary education will be of 4 years duration consisting of class ix to class xii. In the field of higher education, a combined Degree course of four years and a one year Masters course was recommended to be introduced in the universities. The Commission suggested for universal and tuition fee free compulsory education in primary level, to make the existing tuition fee free primary education (class i to v) compulsory by 1980 and to make education up to class viii free and compulsory by 1983. In consideration of the financial condition of the dropouts at primary level, night schools were to be established providing education to the students up to the age of fifteen.
At the secondary level consolidated multiple course was recommended. The secondary level education was to consist of simultaneous vocational education of three years term and general education of four years term. The education in secondary level shall be marginal vocational education for most of the students and as preparatory stage for higher education for a few. The marginal vocational education was to extend upto class xi and general education upto class xii. Thus from class ix, the course of studies ought to be divided into (a) vocational education and (b) general education.
Regarding curriculum, syllabus and textbooks, the Commission suggested a uniform curriculum for primary level based on competence. The Commission suggested the establishment of Educational Research Board for the development of primary education.
The Commission gave special emphasis on improved assessment system and suggested letter grading in the assessment of student performance at all stages of education. The students with both general and vocational courses shall appear in the public examination on completion of their study in class x and will get certificate. On completion of course of class x the students with general course were to select one of the multilateral general courses for class xi and class xii and on completion of course of class xii shall be entitled to join the institutions for higher studies. There would be public examination on completion of the course of class xii and the successful candidates ought to be entitled to a certificate. The students with vocational course would complete their vocational education on completion of one year special training in class xi on subject related with their course of studies in class ix and x. On completion of training in class xi they will appear in a public examination and will be entitled to a certificate. The students with vocational course willing to join in industrial concerns as skilled labour on completion of vocational course of class x would be provided with the scope for industrial internship programme. Any student aspiring for higher education in related vocational subject on completion of the course of class x or class xi shall be entitled to admission in specific institutions. The Commission report firmly asserted that women's education should be such as to be of help to them in their domestic life, and stressed that subjects such as child-care, the nursing of the sick, preservation of health, food and nutrition must be included. It also suggested that girls should be channeled into 'vocations specially suitable to them', such as primary school teaching, nursing and typing.
Commission for Developing National Curricula and Syllabi (1976) In the light of the recommendations of the Qudrat-i-Khuda Education Commission (1974) a committee for developing National curricula and syllabi was formed by the government in 1975. The national committee consisted of 51 eminent educationists of the country headed by Professor Shamsul Hoque and began functioning in March 1976. The Commission developed a detailed procedure and mechanism for developing national curricula and syllabi. In order to achieve its target, the Commission constituted 10 sub-committees and 27 subject committees. The Commission submitted its report to the government in 7 volumes in 1976, 1977 and 1978. The Commission specifically suggested a single-track and uniform secondary education system to be introduced with class ix level preferably from the 1980 school session.
National Education Advisory Committee (1978) In 1978 the government felt the necessity of reviewing the report of the Qudrat-i-Khuda Education Commission and appointed an advisory committee to have a fresh look at the issues of problems of education. This committee submitted a report styled 'Interim Education Policy' Recommendations on 8 February 1979. The interim policy document put emphasis on increased literacy so that the people could take part in the development of the country. The document established the current educational framework with secondary education consisting of three sub-stages, namely, junior secondary (3 years), secondary (2 years), and higher secondary (2 years). In addition, the document stipulated the following: (a) terminal examination will be conducted by the district education authorities for all stages of secondary education; (b) vocational, technical, agricultural and medical education will be included and integrated into secondary and higher secondary education; (c) there will be provision of skills development in any technical subject at junior secondary and secondary levels. In regard to madrasah education, the Interim Education Policy stipulated that it should be recognized to ensure its equivalence to general education in such a way that the 'dakhil' level would correspond to secondary and 'alim' to higher secondary education.
Mazid Khan Education Commission (1983) The report of the Mazid Khan Commission 1983 on education was not widely disseminated and was not formally adopted for implementation.
Bangladesh National Education Commission (1987) The Government of Bangladesh appointed an education commission in 1987 headed by Mafizuddin Ahmed, the former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, to suggest means for educational reforms, restructuring and development of education in the country. The Commission is also known as Mafizuddin Education Commission after the name of its chairman. The Commission took advice and suggestions from the educational experts, the professionals, politicians and the persons interested in education through seminars, discussion meetings and interviews. Two teams consisting of two members of the Commission each travelled through Thailand, China, Philipines and Japan to have acquaintance with improved system of education. The Commission submitted its report to the government on 26 February 1988.
The Commission specifically suggested device and means for the development of higher education in the country. It suggested for the introduction of three years Degree course and two years Masters course, and to develop the infrastructure and teaching facilities in the degree colleges. The Commission suggested that the degree students shall have three subjects as their course of studies and shall have to take practical education in one of the subjects in the third year. The students securing above 70% marks in any of the subjects in the final examination shall be offered honours degree in the subject. The Commission suggested for (a) the elevation of a college in every greater district, in divisional towns and in the capital into a university, (b) to establish two affiliating universities and to bring all the general colleges offering first degree within the jurisdiction of these affiliating universities, (c) to devise principles and rules for nationalization of educational institutions and bring them to effect, (d) to pay full salary and allowances of the teachers of the non-government colleges by the government, (e) to establish rich library and developed research centre in the universities for conducting research for offering Ph.D degree, research facilities in Masters course, fellowship to the students for study in Ph.D course, and to develop a particular department in the universities as Centre of Excellence for research in Ph.D and post Ph.D studies, (f) to introduce employment bureau for students in universities and institutions of higher education for providing employment opportunities.
Shamsul Haque Education Commission (1997) The Government of Bangladesh constituted a 56-members commission headed by Professor M Shamsul Haque, the former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, by an official order issued on 14 January 1997. The Commission was assigned to formulate a practical, people oriented and dynamic education policy. The Commission made all out efforts for developing an education policy in order to introduce a pragmatic education system suitable for the country. The Commission submitted its report in 1997. The education policy enunciated by the Commission aims at (a) helping the students in developing moral, humanitarian, religious, cultural and social values in their individual and national life, (b) to inspire them in the spirit of War of Liberation and inculcate in them the spirit of nationalism, patriotism and qualities of good citizens, (c) to make education practical, productive, creative towards the economic and social change of the country, (d) to develop the students as responsible, dutiful manpower, (e) to develop in them the spirit of universal brotherhood, non-sectarianism, harmony and fellow feeling, and respectful to human rights, (f) to inculcate in them the spirit of tolerance to each others opinions with an object of the development of democratic spirit, and (g) to develop in them the spirit of realistic and positive attitude towards life. The Commission suggested for ensuring equal rights to education on the basis of merit and aptitude with an object of the development of discrimination free society.
The Commission suggested for three stages of education, viz primary level, secondary level and higher education. The length of primary education was suggested to be of 8 years duration instead of 5 years.
MA Bari Education Commission (2001) An expert committee headed by Dr. M. Abdul Bari was formed in 2001 to identify immediate implementable reforms of education sector. The Committee submitted its report in 2002 and suggested several interventions in the sector which were considered later by the Education Commission of 2003 headed by Mohammad Moniruzzaman Miah.
Bangladesh Education Commission (2003) In order to improve the quality of education and initiate a set of reforms to develop the sector, the government undertook several actions of which the formation of an education commission in January 2003 was one of the major initiatives. The Commission was headed by Professor Mohammad Moniruzzaman Miah, former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, and was also known as Moniruzzaman Miah Education Commission after the name of its chairman. The Commission submitted its report to the government in March 2004.
The Commission Report consists of three parts, General education, Professional Education, Specialized education, and suggests 880 recommendations on all the education sub-sectors. The Commission advocated for equal access to education for all irrespective of religion, caste and creed, sex, economic status and geographical variation, wider access to education in the rural areas through establishment of new educational institutions with government financing in the underserved areas. The Commission suggested for nationalization of all the primary schools, a single-track secondary education system, narrowing down teacher-student ratio, upgrading teacher qualifications, reforming the curriculum and teaching methods and improving the assessment and examination system at secondary level.
The Commission suggested for the selection of teachers in non-government educational institutions, other than the universities, through an independent commission. Teachers' pay scale, promotion criteria, and service condition should be formulated in such a way that enhances teachers' dignity in the society. The Commission recommends that there is no alternative to exploring the full utility of modern technology for quality improvement in primary and secondary education. In this regard a TV channel could be engaged for this purpose. It is also recommended that distance education through TV could be introduced for pre-primary and continuous education. The secondary education should be formulated in a manner that the dropout students also can manage some livelihood. A national policy for utilization of manpower needs to be formulated so that no educated unemployment is generated.
The Commission recommended that with certain objectives a national policy on language need to be formulated. It is recommended that with the light of the knowledge of modern science and technology, a national policy on science should be formulated and implemented at the earliest possible time. The commission discouraged the establishment of unitrack universities like agriculture, technology, medicine etc with government fund, because these are contradictory to the concept of university in one hand and expensive as well on the other. Since higher education is relatively expensive, higher education in private sector could be encouraged. But institutional mechanisms should be established to maintain the quality of private sector education. The Commission advocated for decentralization of administration particularly for secondary and college education in a manner that authority does not centralize to single person; collision of power does not arise among different persons and agencies; problem is solved more quickly and at the local levels. It is recommended that for facilitating the public university research with international standard, Centre of Excellence would be established in some areas of education; improvement of physical infrastructure also needs to be developed. For research in professional education (like agriculture, technology, medicine) proper measures should be undertaken.
The Commission recommended for the establishment of a permanent Education Commission in the country with the following functions:' initiatives for implementation of the recommendations of the education commission; identification of the problems in education sector and recommendation for solutions through continuous research; and exploration of new thoughts in education and implementation of the same.
Kabir Chowdhury Education Commission (2009) The government formed a sixteen member committee in 2009 headed by National Professor Kabir Chowdhury to update the National Education Policy 2000. The committee formulated the new education policy in the light of the Qudrat-i-Khuda Commission Report of 1974 and Shamsul Haque Education Commission Report of 1997. The draft of the National Education Policy 2009 was formally submitted to the government on 7 September 2009.
The salient features of the recommendations of the Commission include revising the stages of undergraduate education from three to two, the mandatory inclusion of certain compulsory subjects under all streams of education, making education more need-based, and formation of a permanent education commission. The policy paper recommends extension of compulsory primary schooling to eight years, final primary level examinations to be held at the end of class viii, and secondary school scholarships to be awarded based on the results. The new policy also recommends that secondary level studies will extend over four academic years, classes ix to xii, and the government scholarship examinations will be taken at the end of class x. Final secondary level examinations will be held at the end of class xii. Some fundamental subjects including Bangla, moral education, Bangladesh studies, mathematics, natural environment, social studies, IT and science will be made compulsory in different streams of primary and secondary level curriculum. The policy also calls for some form of technical and vocational education to be introduced at all secondary level institutions. The madrasah education will be restructured by including information technology and vocational training among compulsory subjects. The Committee also recommended formation of a non-government teachers' commission. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]