A new curriculum is going to be introduced at the secondary
level in January of next year where students will no longer have any divisions
like science, business studies or humanities after enrolling in class nine. All
students will have to study 10 common compulsory subjects.
In the existing system, students in secondary level are to sit for exams for at least 400 marks on stream-based subjects. Students are allowed to choose elective subjects besides compulsory ones as per their streams.
But In the new curriculum, all the subjects of the science stream will be merged to 100 marks and will be taught as ‘Science’. A large portion of educationists, experts, and parents raise concern about the new curriculum terming it as ‘unilateral' instead of specialized. They say, specialized education like science has become insignificant in this new curriculum. It is said that the new curriculum aims at making students science-oriented,but the prospect of failure is looming large. Students will have less time if all are taught combindly. Particularly interest may decline in science education among students, remark the concerned.
In the country’s history, this is the first time authority moves on to remove the stream-based specialization of science, business studies, and humanities from the secondary-level. Even in 1990, the students of the science stream in the secondary level had to sit for 1000 marks on 11 subjects in the public exam. The total marks for the science stream was 300, which was 30 percent of the full marks. In 2000, there were a total of 11 subjects for 1100 marks having 400 marks for science which is 36 percent of the total marks. In 2017, there were 1300 marks for 14 subjects where 400 marks, or 31 percent of the total marks were allocated for science subjects. But In the latest curriculum, a total of 1000 marks in 10 subjects designed for class IX-X. Science has 100 marks which is only 10 percent of the total marks in the secondary examination.
According to latest curriculum, there will be a total of 10 subjects from grades six to ten. These are Bengali, English, Mathematics, Science, History and Social Sciences, Digital Technology, Life and Livelihood, Health Safety, Religious studies, Art and Culture. According to the new curriculum Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Exams would be based on class X syllabus only though the exam was held based on class IX and X previously.
A large portion of educationist fear that the number of science students at the higher secondary level will decrease further if the new curriculum is implemented. They argue science students have been studying physics, chemistry, biology, and higher mathematics separately to large extent for a long time in class IX-X. The higher the level students go after secondary school, the lower the rate of students visible in science. In this situation, if the scope of science education becomes narrow at the secondary level, the number of science students will decrease further.
Majority concerned with the education sector wonder that if the new curriculum is implemented, the number of science students at the higher level will decrease further. They argue science students have been studying physics, chemistry, biology, and higher mathematics separately for a long time in class IX-XI. This was comparatively on a larger scale. The higher the level after secondary school, the lower the participation rate of students visible in science. In this context, if the scope of science education becomes narrow at the secondary level, the number of science students may decrease further.
According to the latest report of Bangladesh Bureau of Education Information and Statistics (BANBEIS), the percentage of science candidates in SSC exam from 2018 to 2022 was 31 percent, 31.94 percent, 30.92 percent, 28.19 percent and 31.93 percent respectively. This rate has declined further at higher secondary level. From 2018 to 2022, the percentage of candidates from science stream in higher secondary exam was 22.29 percent, 23.35 percent, 23.42 percent, 22.50 percent and 24.54 percent respectively. The percentage of undergraduate students who attended in science-based subjects in the final exam in 2018 and 2029 was 17.48 percent and 16.06 percent. In 2020, the rate stands at 23.28 percent.
However, Education Ministry officials admitted that the data of the year 2020 is incomplete because it was not possible to compile the complete data due to the Covid-19. But there is speculation that the rate will come down once it’s available. Besides, the complete data of 2021 and 2022 has not yet been published to date.
The statement of National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) in this regard reads, ‘In this curriculum, the subject 'Science' in class 9 and 10 comprises proportion and quantity, system, structure and behavior of living and non-living things in the system, structure and characterstics of matter, interactions between matter and energy, state and change also texts from biology, and earth and space sciences. Students will be taught these subjects in such a way that they can acquire scientific literacy, grow interest in scientific inquiry and develop scientific skills and attitudes among them.'
Although, there is doubt among the teachers whether the purpose of the new curriculum will be fulfilled. On the condition of anonymity, a teacher of chemistry department at a college in Barishal said, "Earlier, the students who were interested in science, used to choose science and they had to study science-based subjects with special emphasis. Because of this, they could spend more time on these subjects and get a chance to learn everything well. But now they have to read about everything, they won’t be able to give enough time for sciences. It’s true that studying science-based subjects requires relatively more time. Consequently, when the time will be reduced here or additional pressure of other subjects has to be endured, the learning and memorization of students in this stream will also decrease a lot compared to before.
He also said, `Besides, not everyone feels interest in studying mathematics and physics. When we pressurise them there is confusion about how much they are learning. Considering these, removing stream boundary in the new curriculum can create more complexities.’
Meanwhile, comparing with the education system of the technology-based countries of the world, it is found that students in several countries have the opportunity to choose the subjects of their choice at the secondary level and physics, chemistry, and mathematics are taught separately instead of integrated science education. Education system of China requires completion of junior secondary school between the ages of 12 and 15. Students are taught the basic subjects of science like mathematics and physics relatively in detailed. Similarly, In the education system of England, secondary level students can study the subjects of their choice and can choose any subject related to science, arts or social science according to their choice.
Dhaka University physics professor Kamrul Hasan Mamun said, "There are many divisions of education in our country -madrasha education, general education and English medium education. These divisions are creating inequality in the society. The poorest child goes to Qawmi and the richest child to English medium. We urged to remove this discrimination. But the government has instead given away the division of science, humanities, commerce, which has further threatened our education. As a result of this education system, we will no longer get doctors, engineers or brilliant science researchers. While everyone is learning everything, it seems no one is learning anything properly. Because of this limitation of education at the secondary level, they will not be interested in science education at the higher level.”
He also said, 'There are many famous doctors, engineers and scientists in England. Their educational system is proven successful. Their education system is also exits in our country. If we want to catch up with the developed world, why are we going to experiment so much on students without taking that curriculum?'
NCTB member (Academic) Prof. Mashiuzzaman too admitted the limitation of new curricula. He said The Bonik Barta, "There will be some learning deficit in the new curricula, but we will be able to fulfill it in higher secondary. We are doing this so that students learn humanity, values, history and culture of the country well till secondary school. They will study following their choice in higher secondary level. Now they are giving 35 percent time for science at higher secondary level. It will be 75 percent in the upcoming system. How many scientists have we been able to create by dividing the separate stream in the secondary level? Interest in science will not decrease in this new curriculum. Rather, the lack of idea among some students about science can be overcome.”
Translated by Mehedi Mamun