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Secondary Education


Secondary Education coincides with education of grades 6 through 12 or the second stage of education that commences after primary education and continues up to beginning of higher education.

In the early Vedic period (2000-1000 BC) education was a family responsibility, being given by the father to the son. In the later Vedic age (1000-500 BC), the age of upanisads, education was institutionalised and it took a definite shape. In this period Brahmanic education entered Bengal.

With the formal ceremony of Upanayan, the ritual of investing a minor with holy thread, the guru or the teacher accepted him as one of his disciples. The normal age of upanayan was 8 for a brahman, 11 for a ksatriya and 12 for a vaishya. The guru's home was the school where the pupils lived for the whole period of education as a member of the family. Thus a residential feature was seen in the education imparted in ancient India. No tuition fees were charged but pupils used to render personal manual services. In the early Vedic schools, education was confined to young Brahmans. In the later Vedic period before 500 BC, the education of the Ksatriyas and Vaisyas came under Brahman control.

The purpose of instruction was to inculcate in the minds of the pupils the necessary direction for all their future life according to their position in the caste. The guru's school usually received state support in the form of allotment of rent-free lands. But guru had full autonomy to decide what to teach and how to teach. Generally in guru's school the pupils studied the three main vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and some times the Atharvaveda and also metaphysics and preliminary course on grammar, logic, ethics, biology, arithmetic, doctrine of prayer, astronomy and also all branches of culture and knowledge as were known then. For Brahman and Ksatriya pupils the courses of studies were similar at the elementary stage. In the advanced stage the curricula differed. The former studied Vedas and other higher subjects relating to their vocation as priests and the latter learnt military tactics, archery and politics. The curricula showed that guru's school provided both general and occupation oriented courses. The period of study usually lasted till the age of 16 and sometimes, till the age of 24. The relationship between the guru and the pupil was cordial and personal. The guru was highly respected in ancient India.

For other sects of the society education was mainly vocational and trade oriented. Traders i.e., the Vaisyas studied grammar and commerce. Their education was organised incorporating a learner as a probationer in a related organisation. The sudras were involved in agricultural and related economic activities, different professions in industries and other establishments. Their education was also production and job oriented.

Towards the end of ancient period a strong caste system made access to education restricted. Then two types of schools- the tol or pathsala and the network of indigenous elementary schools were developed. The tols were seats of higher learning including secondary education. The teachers imparted instruction through sanskrit and provided their students with traditional classical learning. In early Vedic period, boys and girls at the age of eight after upanayan enjoyed equal educational facilities. Girls started their studentship at guru's home. Young maidens completing their education were married to learned persons. In Vedic society a wife was a regular partner in the sacrificial offering of the husband. So she had to acquire Vedic knowledge which was essential for performing religious rites and ceremonies. But later as a result of social changes, women lost their liberal social status as well as opportunity for getting education. In later period, Brahmanic education flourished along with Buddhist education. It also continued throughout Muslim and British periods. In Bangladesh, tols are the secondary level institutions of Brahmanic education. Buddhist education centred around monasteries or viharas. The primary idea of buddhism was to provide for proper instruction of the novice in the doctrines of the Buddhist faith and to secure supervision over his conduct while he was becoming habituated to the monastic life.

The first step of admission or initiation in Buddhism is called prabbajja and after admission, the candidate becomes a probationer and is placed under a teacher. After the completion of the probation period he becomes a bhikshu (monk), a full-fledged member of the order. The essence of Buddhist education system arouse from imparting education to the monk. In Buddhist system a pupil does all physical work and renders the services to the spiritual preceptor as per his requirement. In turn, the teacher gives the pupil all possible intellectual and spiritual help and guidance by teaching and instruction. A competent preceptor or senior bhikshu generally supervises two young probationer bhikshus. The group of young bhikshus lived in the vihara. Such residential viharas were developed in various parts of India including the present territory of Bangladesh.

Viharas were seats of higher learning like present day residential universities. But these had a provision for extending of elementary knowledge and education. Actually there was no provision of secondary level institution at that time. But elementary level courses prepared the students for advanced and specialised studies at the viharas. So it is presumable that elementary education covered both primary and secondary levels of education.

Huen Tsang who stayed in India from 629 to 645 AD found that primary course started at the age of 8 and continued up to the age of 15 and subjects like grammar, arts and crafts, ayurvedic medicine, logic and theology were taught. i-tsing who stayed in India from 673 to 687 AD observed that pupils were taught five major disciplines at elementary level- grammar and lexicography, fine arts, ayurvedic medicine, logic and theology and philosophy. After this stage, the level of specialised or higher studies began. Buddhist monastery primarily prepared the students to learn religious studies. But I-Tsing found that some monasteries also had courses on materialistic disciplines where the students were taught subjects related to their practical life. Lord Buddha had consented to enroll women already left behind their respective families forever as disciples in the monasteries. Curtain rules were developed to regulate the life of the nuns under complete subjugation of monks. Gradually, a code of conduct and manners were developed for education and training of the nuns. But there is lack of evidence of details of actual training they had received in viharas. One of the remarkable contributions of Buddhist education system was it's secular curricula. Admission of laymen and non-Buddhists in viharas were opened and thus Buddhism created awareness about the quest for education among common people.

After the establishment of Muslim rule in India (around 1204-1206), Bengal was ruled as a province and sometimes as an independent state by subahdars, and sultans respectively. These rulers and nawabs established maktabs and madrasahs as educational institutions in Bangladesh. Maktabs provided primary education and madrasahs were seats of secondary education and higher learning. The madrasahs of Bengal were in a flourishing condition during Muslim rule. These were run with state funds. The nobility and the private individuals were also found to set up and run madrasahs at their own initiative. Many illustrious scholars, administrators and officials were graduates of madrasahs in Muslim Bengal. In the school of Shah Mubarak his sons Faizi and Abul Fazl, historian Badauni and other scholars were students. In the madrasah run by Sharafuddin Abu Taoama in sonargaon students studied both secular and religious subjects. During the rule of emperor Shahjahan the madrasahs of Jahangirnagar specialised in teaching science, theology, philosophy and mathematics.

Madrasah education was free and madrasha teachers enjoyed high status in the society. The courses of madrasah generally included religious subjects like the quran, the hadith, theology and other disciplines of Islamic Studies. Secular subjects such as History, Logic, Geography, Algebra, Astronomy, Medical Science, Chemistry and other technical, vocational, professional subjects were given more inportance in some centres. The medium of instruction was Persian but Arabic was compulsory for Muslims students. Teaching of history was one special feature of madrasah education during Muslim period. As a result, these learning centres could produce some illustrious historians in the subcontinent. Generally Muslim students studied in madrasah. Mughal Emperor akbar adopted a policy so that Hindu youths can study at madrasah.

Women during Muslim rule did not have opportunity for education due to purda system. But there are evidences that in harems of kings, nawabs and nobles some ladies, daughters, sisters of kings and nobility received education and some of them attained great distinction. But great mass of Muslim women received no education at all except some domestic training in performance of household duties.

The tradition of madrasah education continued during the British period but its nature and character of flourishing period changed to a great extent. In early 19th century as reported by Adam (1835-1838) there were various types of madrasahs and wide range of courses such as Grammatical works, Rhetoric, Logic, Law, Doctrines of Islam, Ptolemy and Astronomy; courses of Natural Philosophy, Science, History and Literature were also taught.

During the decline of Muslim power due to lack of state patronage, financial support from the landed aristocracy and nobility and change of official language from Persian to English madrasah education lost its past glory. Rather it assumed conservative character and used classical language as medium of instruction. Madrasah education with some modifications is continuing in Bangladesh.

European trading companies began their commercial activities in India from 1600 AD. Gradually, the Portuguese, the French, the Dutch and the English settled in some important parts and commercial centres. Among them the English east india company had established their rule in India. Till the early 19th century, they did not evolve any definite educational policy.

It was only in the Charter Act of 1813 that education of the Indian people was included within the duties of the East India Company and an annual sum of 10,000 pounds was provided for their educational activities. However, the company mainly spent the money for oriental learning. The progressive reformers of Bengal such as rammohun roy protested against this and demanded western education for the people of this country. But the company did not pay any attention to this. However, as per the Charter, missionaries were allowed to work in the country. This had great impact upon the development of modern type of English schools at primary and secondary levels.

One of the important events of this period was the endorsement of Macaulay's Minute in Lord bentinck's Despatch of 7 March 1835, which provided that western learning should be spread through English language. Use of English as a medium of instruction in public education was announced by the government formally. As a result, a good network of English high schools and colleges were established in Bengal, mostly due to government initiative and support. The new high schools demonstrated fairly high standard of instruction in language and literature, but their standard not upto the mark in basic subjects of humanities and social sciences. The syllabus was mainly bookish.

Secondary education received a new dimension in wood's education despatch of 1854. It allowed the provincial government to give grant-in-aid to high schools on fulfillment of some conditions. Specifically, schools should provide secular education. This policy ultimately enabled the government to withdraw from the field of educational activities and transfer the responsibility upon the Indians. However, grant-in-aid system, scholarship scheme for students of all levels and creation of department of Public Instruction resulted in a remarkable expansion of secondary education in Bengal.

The Indian Education Commission of 1882 addressed the problems of secondary education at a great length. The government accepted the commission's recommendations to transfer all government secondary schools to private bodies and to establish a model government high school in each district headquarters. By the beginning of the 20th century the province of Bengal experienced a spectacular growth of secondary education. There were 3,097 English high schools in India in 1901-1902 and nearly a half of them were in Bengal. At the district level, Bengal had more schools than any other province. There was an English secondary school for every 104.3 square miles. It also had the largest number of unaided schools run privately without any government grant. These schools low tuition fees and easy admission changes fulfilled the growing demand for western education in Bengal.

Secondary education experienced a setback as a result of lord curzon's regressive education policy adopted in 1901 on the basis of Simla conference. It imposed strict control over high schools by the universities and the Education Department. However during Curzon's period, the partition of bengal in 1905 offered a better opportunity for the development of education in East Bengal. Henry Sharp, the first Director of Public Instruction of East Bengal, initiated an educational improvement programme. He arranged a special aid programme for Muslim students such as scholarships at every level of education and eight percent places in government aided schools were kept for free education of Muslim students. A Muslim hostel in every government school was established. As a result, there was a substantial increase in the number of Muslim students in primary and secondary schools. The increase was about 35% from 425,800 in 1906-1907 to 575,700 in 1911-1912. The policy of promoting education in eastern Bengal continued under unified government of Bengal throughout the rest of British period.

During 1921-1937, the number of secondary schools in Bengal's rural areas increased remarkably. A massive expansion of girls' education in secondary level, introduction of mother tongue as the medium of instruction and some improvement in training and service conditions of teachers were done in the same period. The World War II reduced the pace of development of secondary education. In the post war period, some efforts were made to introduce vocational courses in high schools and to establish high school with technical, commercial and agriculture education.

During the Partition of Bengal in 1947, there were two types of schools, middle school and high schools for providing secondary education. Middle schools offered education of grades I to VI and high schools grades VII to X. There were nearly 20,000 middle schools and 2,000 high schools of which over 50% were managed privately from the contribution of people and the government grant. Less than 40% of the high schools received grant-in-aid from the state. Only forty schools were fully supported by the government. There were five schools for the training of middle school teachers'. Two training colleges, one in Calcutta and the other in Dhaka were set up to train up high school teachers.

In 1849, JED Bethune first established a regular secular girls' high school in Calcutta with six pupils. Bethune's experiment was so successful that it became a model of girls' school in other provinces of India. But the progress of girls' in secondary level education was very slow. By the end of the century (1896-1897), there were only two girls' English high schools in Bengal, one was Bethune School in Calcutta and the other was Eden School in Dhaka.

The impetus of girls' education came from the Indian Education Commission of 1882. According to the commission's recommendations, the Bengal government took up several steps including introduction of special subjects suitable for the girls were included in the curricula and co-education in general, beside giving higher amount of grants to girls' schools. The District and Municipal Boards also started to allocate a higher amount of grants for girls' education. Education of Muslim girls entered into a new stage with the efforts of Muslim women particularly Nawab faizunnesa choudhurani and roquiah sakhawat hossain. Gradually, with the opening of female training schools, and introduction of concession started and free studentship, prize and scholarship schemes, got a momentum in girls' education in Bengal.

Pakistan period The first task of the government of East Bengal within the framework of Pakistan was to reduce the gap created in the educational sector of the province due to large scale exodus of Hindu teachers, administrators and staffs to India. The Partition reduced the jurisdiction of Calcutta University over the schools and colleges located in East Bengal. To fill up the gap, the government promulgated the East Bengal Educational Ordinance 1947 to facilitate the establishment of the replacing the former Dhaka Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Bengal Secondary Education Board (EBSEB) new East and immediately, all high schools came under the control of this new education board.

Between 1947 and 1960, no major policy reforms and reorganisation of secondary education was done by the central government of Pakistan. However, some measures adopted by the government had significant impact on the development of education in East Bengal. The Pakistan Educational Conference of 1947 held in Karachi recognised Urdu as the lingua franca of Pakistan and proposed compulsory teaching of Urdu from grade 6 in areas where Urdu was not the medium of instruction at the primary stage. This resolution had repercussions in East Bengal and a strong public opinion against this resolution turned into a mass movement. Ultimately, as a result of the language movement in 1952, Bangla was recognised as one of the two state languages of Pakistan and the condition of compulsory teaching of Urdu in the secondary schools in East Bengal was relaxed.

Secondary education was recognised as a separate academic and administrative unit and its duration extended from 5 to 7 years consisting of three sub-stages: middle (grade 6-8), secondary (grade 9-10), and higher secondary (grade 11-12). A uniform curriculum was followed in the junior schools or middle stage. Diversification was introduced in the secondary stage. Along with compulsory subjects, students were offered to choose any one of the following - Humanities, Science, Commerce, Industrial Arts, Home Economics and Agriculture.

The higher secondary stage was separated from the control of the university. Curricula of this stage included mother tongue and English as compulsory subjects for all students. Students could choose required number of courses from any one of the following streams: humanities, science, commerce, fine arts, Islamic studies and agriculture. The administration of secondary education was carried out by the provincial education directorate headed by the Director of Public Instruction (DPI).

The Board of Education had the academic control over secondary schools. In pursuance of the new policy, four boards were set up at Dhaka, Comilla, Jessore and Rajshahi to conduct SSC and HSC examinations within their respective jurisdiction. The curricula and syllabi of the secondary and higher secondary courses were prepared and prescribed by the boards. The curricula of the middle stage were prescribed by the Education Department.

The minimum qualification for the teachers of middle schools was HSC, for the secondary schools a bachelor degree with professional training, and for the teachers of higher secondary education masters degree.

In the past, financing of secondary education was basically a responsibility of private enterprises. The government maintained only a small number of schools. The Pakistan Education Commission, as well as the Second Five-Year Plan (1960-65) emphasised reliance on private effort rather than on government resources. During Pakistan period, the cost of running a private schools in East Pakistan increased enormously. The schools paid minimum salary to teachers. Qualified teachers were not attracted by such poor salary. This resulted in the deterioration of standard of secondary education.

During Pakistan period, the number of girls' secondary schools expanded considerably. In 1947, there were about 200 girls' high schools and by 1970, the number rose to about 700. In addition, girls were found to avail co-education facilities in secondary schools, particularly those in the rural areas. By 1972-73, girls' enrolment in secondary schools stood at 0.27 million or 16% of total secondary school enrolment.

Bangladesh period Immediately after the independence, the government of Bangladesh took initiative to formulate a new education policy and formed an Education Commission on 26 July 1972, with Dr muhammad qudrat-i-khuda as its chairman. The commission produced its report covering all aspects of national education. Regarding secondary education it put forward recommendations to be implemented for a long term. But before the adoption of the report the country's political scenario was changed with the assassination of the president 15 August 1975. Later in the same year, the National Curriculum and Syllabus Committee was formed and it implemented the curricula and syllabi prepared by itself for the secondary level were during 1980-85. It played a major role for the development secondary education till 1996 when it was replaced by the new curricula.

The present secondary education curricula and syllabi were prepared by the initiative of the National Curricula Co-ordination Committee (NCC) of 1993 and it was implemented from the academic session of 1996. Several committees were constituted successively between 1978 and 2010 to formulated and implement the education policy and programme.

At present, the secondary education consists of three sub-stages: lower secondary, (junior) secondary and higher secondary, and this structure may be termed as the 3+2+2 plan. Lower secondary education (grade 6 to 8) is offered in junior high schools. Many high schools and a few intermediate colleges also offer lower secondary education. Most junior high schools have primary section attached to them. The secondary stage (grade 9-10) is offered in institutions of various types: schools having one to ten grades or twelve grades, three to ten grades; and six to ten grades. Higher secondary education (grade 11-12) is offered in some high or secondary schools, intermediate colleges and degree colleges. However, the Education Policy of 2010 recommended expanding primary level upto grade VIII. Meanwhile, the Primary Education Final Examinations and the Junior School Certificate Examinations after the completion of Grade V and Grade VIII were introduced in 2008 and 2010 respectively. The Education Policy of 2010, having two stages of secondary education is scheduled to be implemented by 2018.

The objectives of secondary education of Bangladesh were set on the basis of the guidelines prepared by the Bangladesh Education Commission of 1974, the National Curriculum and Syllabus Committee of 1975 and the National Curricula and Co-ordination Committee of 1993. It aim was to enable the learners to acquire new knowledge, skills, use modern science and technology, develop positive outlook and scientific attitude, to acquire skills for self-employment and to inspire them with patriotism, and religious, moral, cultural and social values.

One of the features of the existing secondary education system is its uniformity. General secondary education, vocational education and madrasah education (Dakhil and Alim stage) are brought under one system for maintaining uniformity, standard and mobility. In the general sub-system of education the curricula of lower secondary education comprises Bangla, English, mathematics, religious education, social science, home economics, arts and crafts, physical education and health as compulsory subjects. The students can take Arabic, advanced Bangla and advanced English as elective subjects.

In 2001, there are six compulsory subjects in the secondary stage: Bangla, English, Mathematics, Religious Education, Social Science, Home Economics, Agriculture, Social Science or General Science. In addition, pupils can take subjects related to their own groups- Science, Humanities, Business Education, Home Economics and Islamic Studies. The students can study another elective subject totaling the marks in the SSC examination 1100. In the Higher Secondary level Bangla and English are compulsory for all students. They also study three subjects from the specified groups- Science, Humanities, Business Education, Home Economics and Islamic Studies. They can also take an elective subject. The total mark in the HSC examination is 1200.

The Ministry of Education is the national policy making organ for educational development in Bangladesh. Secondary education is the direct responsibility of the Department of Secondary and Higher Education headed a Director General. The Department has four divisional and eight zonal offices. Under the jurisdiction of eight zonal offices, there are 64 district education offices. The district education officers are responsible for management and inspection of junior high schools and high schools within their respective districts.

Government high schools and colleges are managed according to the rules and regulations issued by the government. All junior high schools and non-government secondary schools have their respective managing committees constituted according to the rules and regulation of the respective Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education. The non-government intermediate colleges are managed by their governing bodies constituted as per the rules set by the boards. The examination system in the secondary schools and the administration and management of the SSC and HSC examinations remained almost same as it was before liberation. Scholarships are awarded to the meritorious students on the basis of score in the secondary and the higher secondary examinations.

Bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for a high school teacher. Having a professional training, from any of the 11 teachers' training colleges and the Bangladesh Open University is another minimum requirement for a high school teacher. By 1995, about 34.5% of the teachers obtained professional degrees. For teaching students of intermediate classes, the requirement is a master's degree.

From the very inception, Bangladesh government has been encouraging female education. Facilities and opportunities for girls' education were created at all levels. At secondary level enrolment of girl students expanded greatly since 1994 due to adoption of various financial assistance projects and free tuition for girls studying in grades 6 to 10. Female teachers are being appointed in secondary schools to increase girls' enrolment.

There were about 12,000 secondary schools in Bangladesh in 1975. The number went up to 19,083 by 2009. Of those, 15,589 were high schools and rests were junior secondary schools. Beside 1275 Higher Secondary Colleges, there were 657 Higher Secondary Schools and Colleges, both public and private sectors having intermediate level courses in 2009. All junior schools are privately managed. There are 317 government secondary schools, 170 for boys and 147 for girls. Of the nine government intermediate colleges, three are for girls. There are 11 cadet colleges. Some secondary level institutions are run by the autonomous bodies such as universities, banks, mills, and public sector corporations. There are 6771 Dakhil and 1487 Alim madrasah in the country. 77% of institutions run co-education programme whereas 18.86% schools and institutions are exclusively for girls and 2.31% are meant for boys only.

At present (2011), after completing primary education 85% students enroll in secondary schools. The figure was less than 50% a decade ago. This success could be achieved due to adoption of the universal primary education programme by the government in 1991. About 6.81 million students (46.31% boys and 53.69% girls) were enrolled in secondary schools in 2008. By 2011, the school and student ratio stood at 1:364. Teacher-student ratio and school-teacher ratio were 1:33 and 1:11 respectively.

In the Pakistan period, the secondary education system prevailed in our country could not contribute much in terms of creating mid-level skilled manpower due to lack of a programmatic education policy and poor financial allocation. The government of Bangladesh in its first, second and third five year plans stressed the need for linking secondary education with employment generation. But remarkable successes were achieved in the field of secondary education during the fourth plan period (1990-1995). These include were infrastructure development of institutions, strengthening of administration and management, renewal and modernisation of curricula of secondary level institutions and teachers training colleges through the Secondary Education Development Project (SEDP). Another great achievement in this period was enhancement of female education participation.

B Ed and M Ed curricula were modernised and double shifts were introduced in the training colleges to train up more teachers. A scheme was taken up for training 7,000 female teachers for rural secondary schools. An Educational Management and Information System was set up for continuous observation and monitoring of implementation of the new curricula and ensuring quality of education. Bangladesh Open University offers SSC course for students who cannot continue in formal schools as regular students.

The Fifth Five Year Plan provided additional classrooms in 7,000 schools, introduced double shifts in selected rural and urban secondary schools, developed of science laboratories with modern equipment and continuation of present financial assistance programme for female students studying in grades 11 and 12. One innovative policy adopted in the plan was the involvement of community and private efforts in educational activities. Meanwhile, a long term work plan has been finalised to implement the New Education Policy of 2010, under which primary schools and high schools of the country are being upgraded in phases to impart education upto class VIII and higher secondary levels respectively. Programmes relating to infrastuctural development, recruitment and training of more teachers are underway to materialise the objective by 2018. [Sharifa Khatun]