Study says number of science students in decline as more and more opt for business education
While the country desperately needs more science graduates as human resource, the number of science students at the secondary and higher secondary levels is dropping rapidly.
More students are opting for business education as new commercial institutions like bank, insurance and other financial service providers are coming up, according to a research by Bangladesh Freedom Foundation, a non-governmental organisation.
Besides, some go on to study humanities to complete the courses with less effort and expenses, it mentioned adding, the learners also lack confidence and motivation to study science.
The number of science students at secondary level in 2010 had plummeted to almost half that twenty years back.
Experts have identified weak teaching and assessment methods, irregular practical classes and poor salaries of the teachers as some of the major reasons for the quantitative decline in science education.
Although the government envisages building a “Digital Bangladesh,” its apparent failure to address the problem has frustrated the scholars.
They fear this trend would create a huge dearth of human resources educated in science and technology in near future unless urgent steps are taken to attract more students in science education.
“It’s alarming that the number of science students in the country is becoming fewer,” educationist Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury told The Daily Star.
If the government does not give utmost importance to science education and take proper steps, the number would reduce even further, he mentioned.
He also blamed poor teaching quality and infrastructure for the declining number of science students.
“Many teachers do not clearly understand science and thus fail to make the students understand their lessons properly in classrooms,” he pointed out.
Citing an example Jamilur said the Indian government is providing scholarship to the youngsters who are interested in science from primary to post-graduation levels. “We need to take a similar initiative to attract more students to science studies.”
He suggested training the teachers and building up laboratory and other infrastructures.
Prof Mohammad Kaykobad of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) stressed the importance of arranging competitions to popularise science and making the science books easier and attractive.
He also recommended creating more jobs for the science graduates. “To do so, the country has to be production-oriented and the labour market should be expanded.”
Admitting the problem, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said, “We’ve launched a campaign in schools to popularise science education. We are updating the science curriculum to make it attractive and enjoyable to the learners.”
The ministry has also introduced mobile laboratories equipped with scientific materials to visit different schools, he added.
He laid emphasis on increasing budgetary allocation for the development of science education.
To identify the obstacles in science studies and find ways to popularise it among the students, the education ministry in September 2010 had formed a 27-member committee.
Contacted, Prof Sirajul Hoque, member secretary of the committee, said they have prepared a draft report and will submit it to the ministry soon.
-With The Daily Star input