People in this part of the world perhaps have the most fertile brain when it comes to relegating a well-intentioned system to disuse and disgrace. Munir Hasan, founding member of the Bangladesh Mathematics Olympiad, has written about what should have brought the best in child learners of the primary schools as also their seniors at the secondary level. The very headline of his article published in a leading Bangla contemporary should take readers by surprise: "Ekhane prothom theke pancham srenir barir kaj kinte paoa jai (homework for Class I to V are on sale here". This advertisement in computer print on a white paper was pasted on the front of a stationery store.
Further queries by the writer have revealed it was not the only outlet for selling homework for young learners. Those have ubiquitously proliferated all across the country. This is, however, not limited to the primary students. Several websites have announced their presence to prepare answers to questions on different assignments for students and even the candidates of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations. More, such answers to assignments are available on YouTube. All one has to do is to download those for copying before submission to class teachers.
All this set this scriber thinking what about the HSC candidates? There is nothing to be disappointed. The hyperactive teaching squads have released such materials on video-sharing platform YouTube their diligently prepared assignments for the HSC candidates as well. What is more, responses from recipients are fast and intimate. Addressing the helping people as 'Bhaia', some of them even demand early release of prepared assignments on their choice subjects.
Muneer Hasan has lamented that students who participate in different Olympiads including the Mathematics Olympiad were involved with the process of question setting for assignments. Their trainers in association with school teachers and university teachers were also inducted into the system for developing highly useful sets of questions on assignments. Now the net result is that all such genuine efforts aimed at stimulating imagination of learners have been reduced to commodities for sale from the neighbourhood shops.
No sane person in his/her wildest imagination can think of an aberration of this order when such education materials could at least make some compensation for the loss of education suffered by about 40 million students during the prolonged closure of educational institutions on account of the pandemic. Evil genius is in full play here. What is shocking is that several providers have emerged already and more are likely to be on the scene. Evaluators will not be able to keep track of these numerous sources of prepared assignments. Done by otherwise qualified and knowledgeable people, these homework and assignments are likely to be rated highly and more importantly fetch high scores. It will be too difficult to discern students who did not adopt such unfair means.
Reportedly, dispelling the doubt that the number of candidates will drop on account of long lay-off and decline in families' capacity for bearing educational expenses, as high as 94 per cent SSC candidates have submitted their assignments. Knowing that home works and assignments will count significantly in evaluation of merit ---which in the present context refers to carrying high scores, students have suddenly become greatly interested in registering themselves for examinations. Since the examinations will be held on abridged syllabuses and only in elective subjects, the readily available assignments will be of great help.
Those who are so active to take the responsibility for preparing assignments for candidates or students of other classes may not get their misdeeds limited to this area alone. Soon they may come up with question and answers for the SSC and HSC examinations under the brief syllabuses. If a good initiative is so frustrated, what is the guarantee these nexus or isolated evil geniuses will not extend their sought-after help to areas related to examinations?
Sure enough, money is involved here. But that an entire generation will get spoiled by their unsolicited help packages is none of their concern. The loss suffered by students from primary to class XII is stupendous. Now this negative effect on account of prepared assignments will be a double blow to their learning.
Why blame these people involved in illegally releasing such materials on websites and video platforms alone? The number one prerequisite for acquiring knowledge is honesty. Unfortunately, parents and guardians are to blame for creating the demand for such illicit education-guide materials at the primary level. If they teach their children to be insincere and dishonest so early, what else can be expected of the impressionable minds? When they grow up, they know whom to contact and how for an easy way out. This explains the massive leaks of questions for admission tests to medical colleges and universities at different times. Once during the days of copying spree in examination halls of SSC and HSC, parents and elders used to supply copies from outside.
Those days are over. But now things have taken a no less worse turn with the advent of digital devices. But such devices are not to blame because they are neutral. All depends on how those are used. Students' originality and creativity are hampered because they are not given the opportunity to explore their potential and learn with joy and spontaneously. The important thing is to create an enabling environment for developing a passion and love for learning, not just compelling learners to score high in examinations.