The two-storey college building on a 166-decimal plot with a lush green field at the front promises a congenial environment.
Established in 2011, Progati Model College in Jhenidah's Kotchandpur upazila has 12 regular teachers. Yet, none of its 19 students passed the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations this year.The examinees flunked English, and the reason cited by the college principal seems very unusual -- the lone English teacher at the institution had gone on maternity leave in 2016 for two years, and the college couldn't afford to fill up the post.
"Other teachers and I myself took classes, but regrettably none could pass. The questions [of English papers] were really hard," said Shafiqul Islam, principal of the college.The English teacher, Munni Khatun, went on maternity leave on June 12, 2016 and never rejoined because of non-payment of salaries. The college authorities appointed a teacher only this month. Shafiqul said the college doesn't enjoy the government's MPO (monthly pay order) benefit, and it didn't have required funds to go for recruitment.
Ashraful Alam, chairman of the college governing body, said they should have appointed an English teacher immediately for the sake of the examinees as they were not regular students, meaning they had failed in one or more subjects in previous years. But the college could not recruit anyone for lack of funds, he added.
Progati Model College is one of the 55 institutions that saw zero pass rate in this year's HSC exams.
Seven such colleges in the last three days are found some common features: all these institutions have big campuses and a good number of teachers, and none of them gets government funds. The teachers don't get salaries regularly and they seldom take classes.
Take Satla Ideal College as another example.
Founded by BNP leader Sorfuddin Santu in 2001, the tin-roof college building on a 2.87-acre plot in Barisal's Ujirpur upazila has seven teachers. But all its 17 students failed the HSC exams.
Students and guardians alleged that the teachers didn't take classes regularly. Classes were held only twice a week after the students filled out forms for the HSC exams.The principal, Humayun Kabir, started coming to the college less frequently after he became Sholok Union Parishad chairman two years ago. Contacted, he admitted this, and said all the seven teachers at the college are demoralised as they didn't get the MPO or any government funds since its inception.
"How could I run the college properly if the teachers remain unpaid -- some of them for the last 18 years," Humayun said over the phone. Several guardians alleged that the teachers at the college didn't take classes regularly. "It's an educational institution, but we seldom see them take classes," said a guardian. Visiting the college on Monday noon, this newspaper found it almost deserted. There was no student in any of the classrooms. Clothes were hanging from ropes in the corridor and goats were wandering there.
One of the teachers said most of the students live in faraway areas and are irregular. Many of them had failed in several subjects in previous years.This correspondent managed to talk to one of the students, Shamim, who painted a dismal picture of academic activities at the college.He passed Dakhil (equivalent to SSC) exams with GPA 4.52 from Rajapur Madrasa."I had got admitted to another college, but the Salta union chairman persuaded my family to have me shifted here," he said.The situation is even gloomier at Naogaon's Purba Manda Ideal College, which recorded zero pass rate in HSC exams for the second time.
Only two students sat for the HSC exams this year and both failed -- one in physics and the other in mathematics. Last year, only one student appeared in the exams, and he too failed.Set up in Manda upazila in 2004, the college has 18 teachers but no specialised one to teach English. It is not on the government's payroll and is solely dependent on the locals' donations.
During a recent visit to the institution, a correspondent from The Daily Star saw only 15 students attending classes at a tin-shed building. The college authorities, however, said a total of 71 students study in science, humanities and commerce groups there. Principal Joynul Abedin said HSC examinees from the college flunked mainly because they couldn't attend classes regularly for helping their parents in their work. “Only poor and weak students come here for admission. It might be another reason for the poor result,” he said.
Besides, some of the teachers at the college have become irregular as they are not getting salaries regularly. They have to do alternative work to run their families."We lead a miserable life as we don't get any salary from the government. That's why many of us have to either offer private tuitions or work as shopkeepers just for survival,” said Kanak Kumar Gain, who teaches psychology at the college.Chongacha Women's College is another college with zero success rate.
Only a female student had appeared in this year's HSC exams from the institution in Chongacha union of Sirajganj Sadar upazila.Built on a piece of donated land, the college had begun its journey with 14 teachers and a good number of students in 1991. However, the number of teachers has now come down to only six, thanks to irregular payment of salaries.The existing teachers are also not taking classes regularly. Because of this, the number of students is declining.Three students had appeared in last year's HSC exams and only one of them passed. In 2016, five students took the test and two of them came out successful, said Latifur Rahman, principal of the college.He said many of the teachers changed job as the school had not been brought under the MPO coverage in all these years. “How can anyone work without salaries?” he asked.Similar is the situation at Durgapur School and College in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore.
Four students appeared in this year's HSC exam and all of them failed, mostly in English. The college has 20 teachers but most of them don't even come to the institution, which doesn't get government funds. "We started [this college] in 2002 but still our teachers are working without any pay. They have to do various jobs to earn a living,” said Yasin Ali, acting principal of the college. Contacted, Gurudaspur Upazila Secondary Education Officer Hafizur Rahman said it was true that the teachers were not getting salaries, but “they cannot let their students down”.
"We will inform the higher authorities about the matter so that they can take necessary steps,” he added. Krishnanagar Abdul Jabbar School and College has a different case.Thirteen students from the college sat for the HSC exams. However, none of them passed. The college is situated in a remote village in Krishnanagar union of Brahmanbaria. The union is known for frequent clashes among people of different villages.In the last one year, several incidents of murder, arson and looting took place at eight villages in the union. Therefore, the students from the villages could not attend classes for many days, said Ferdousur Rahman, acting principal of the college.
However, sources at the institution said shortage of teachers was also a key reason behind its dismal performance. Contacted, Comilla Education Board Chairman Prof Md Ruhul Amin said, "We will issue show cause notices to the institutions [in Comilla] with zero pass rate.” The institutions would be given another chance to do well only for the sake of their students. If they fail again, the affiliation of the institutions with the board will be cancelled,” he added.
Source: The Daily star