Students feeling overjoyed at the GPA 5 bonanzas in the results of secondary and higher secondary examinations are nowadays a routine. What stands out glaringly is their parents' elation, which at times overshoots that of their offspring. Parents in this country have traditionally been found in anxious spell of wait for the exam results. But with the start of the deluge of GPA (grade point average) 5, these normal worries have begun touching the border of a unique kind of frenzy. In a few days after the results come out, the middle-class urban students are found being herded into the ubiquitous coaching centres. These centres prepare students for getting admitted to reputed colleges and public universities. In most cases, the parents do not bother to know about the disciplines and subjects preferred by their sons or daughters.
Driven by the parental fiat, the generally submissive students begin attending classes to be coached on varieties of subjects. They range from subjects under Science, particularly 'Engineering' and 'Medical', to those under Commerce. With a berth in Dhaka University or any of the public universities in sight, parents do not want to miss a chance. Thanks to this desperation, many students are seen hopping from one coaching centre to another. Along with the subjects preferably under Science, and Commerce, many of them are also made to enrol in coaching for liberal arts under Humanities. This one is open to students of all groups. Science students with unexpectedly brilliant results in the university admission test enrolling in English literature are a common scenario. So is the spectacle of those with a passion for literature being deprived of the opportunity to study the subject.
In many cases, the calling of shots by the parents in determining the groups or subjects of their offspring ends in disasters. A student may have a flair for literature or the fine arts or music. On being constantly reminded of the career benefits of a science or commerce subject, students eventually find themselves admitted to a group or subject which they have dreaded for long. Instances of many such students performing miserably at colleges or universities are plenty. Ironically, the reverse picture, i.e. a student interested in science made to study humanities or liberal arts is rare. The spectacle emerges as a direct result of the virtual banishment of the arts subjects from the curricula of many reputed schools and colleges in the country.
As a nation aspiring to be included in the 'developing' category, Bangladesh needs a strong force of technologically skilled youths, as well as young entrepreneurs. Prompted by this national objective, the policy makers continue to promote science and commerce in higher secondary and university education. But a nation also needs sufficient numbers of thinkers, politicians, dreamers and creative people for its healthy growth. Almost all the developed nations thus attach the same importance to the studies of the arts as they do to that of science. To them enriching the nation in all the areas of learning is a sine qua non. Unfortunately, this vital thought eludes the country's national level planners.
Many developed countries have efficiently solved the problem of enabling the students to study in the areas of their liking. They hold aptitude tests of the students early in their educational careers. Thus it doesn't take long for the preliminary schools to determine the areas in which a particular student can excel in his or her higher grades. To relieve the Bangladesh students of the trauma of grappling with the subjects of their dislike, the authorities can turn to aptitude tests. Besides making education productive, they are set to add to the nation's resource of scholarship.
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