3229Published on June 14, 2021
The main theme of Bangabandhu's philosophy on education was to build ideal human resources for the social, political and economic development of the country. He believed that education was a fundamental human right and that there should be equal opportunities for education for all, irrespective of religion, caste or gender.
Bangabandhu's various speeches, policies and actions reflected his views on education. Two of his speeches, particularly, reflected some key aspects of Bangabandhu's thoughts and philosophy on education. He gave one speech in Chattagram in March 1972 and another in March 1973 at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). In 1972, Bangabandhu formed an education commission headed by Dr Qudrat-i-Khuda, whose main task was to evaluate the existing education system and make recommendations for introducing an appropriate system. He advised every teacher and student to spend a few days in the countryside to spread the light of education among the rural people. Bangabandhu hinted that an education commission with educationists was being formed to implement sustainable socio-economic development in the country.
In his speech at the first convocation of the BUET on 20 March 1973, Bangabandhu elaborated on his views on education. Speaking at the occasion, Bangabandhu told the new graduates and teachers that the education system of 200 years of British colonial rule and 25 years of education in Pakistan had only created clerks, not human beings. Bangabandhu emphasized the need to produce skilled human resources for ensuring political and economic development and implementing socialism. He warned everyone against foreign dependence and identified it as an obstacle to sustainable socio-economic development.
Bangabandhu did not confine his thoughts on education to mere speeches. He took active steps to implement his philosophy. The Qudrat-i-Khuda Commission was formed after independence (in 1972) to reform the education system. The commission published the Interim Report in June 1973 and the Final Report in May 1984. The 309-page report, titled Bangladesh Education Commission Report, is by far the most comprehensive work on reforming the education system in Bangladesh to date, where Bangabandhu's thoughts and philosophy on education have come to the fore.
The key observations by the commission included facilitating training for teachers, ensuring good remuneration for teachers to attract talented people to the teaching profession, taking steps to make Bangla the medium of instruction at all levels of education, emphasizing learning English and other important international languages, emphasizing technical and vocational education, building higher education system as a facilitator of national development through study and research, emphasizing applied research for national development and create a research environment in universities, ensuring equal education for all, and considering education as an investment. The commission further recommended that 5% of the national income be spent on education every year and gradually increase it to 7%.
Bangabandhu had sincerely accepted the recommendations of this report. But as a result of the brutal assassination of him and his family in August 1975, he did not get a chance to implement them fully. However, before receiving the report of this commission, Bangabandhu took some steps to implement his philosophy on education. The constitution of Bangladesh, enacted in 1972, highlighted education as a fundamental right of the citizens.
In 1972, the Ministry of Education took some important steps to ensure education for all citizens. On 12 February 1972, a press note from the Ministry of Education stated that Bangla would be the medium of education up to the higher secondary level. In another press note dated 19 February, it was informed that students from first grade to the fifth grade will get free books and students from sixth grade to tenth grade will get a 40% discount on market price. At the initiative of Bangabandhu's government, 36,175 government primary schools were nationalized and teachers' salaries were increased. In addition, for the development and empowerment of women, in January 1973, Bangabandhu took a landmark step to introduce free education for women up to the eighth standard.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to build the country's higher education institutions as a place for independent thought and expression by issuing a university order in 1973, granting autonomy. As a result, four universities, namely: Dhaka University, Rajshahi University, Chittagong University and Jahangirnagar University started functioning as autonomous institutions.