Riffat Ahmed is an educationist to the core. She is a bibliophile and a keen reader of history. After completing Masters from Dhaka University she worked in Dhanmondi Tutorial for ten years. Now she is Chairperson of the Siddiqui's International School.
She has also been a Treasurer of the Bangladesh English Medium Schools Assistance Foundation. Mrs. Riffat shared her experiences in an interview with The Asian Age
What motivated you to become an educator?
At first, I like connectivity with kids. Life is very much colourful when you start mingling with kids. Besides, teaching runs in our family. From childhood, we exposed in this culture. Teaching is a noble profession. It's related to my heart.
Do you face any challenge in education sector?
When I started working in this field, I saw that lack of scientific method in our education system. There is no scope of creativity here. The main development of human develops with sports. But a sport is a neglected field in Bangladeshi education system.
The way we teach, it creates three different classes in society-madrasa medium, Bangla medium and English medium. For this, society imposes a homogenous experience on children; here is no synchronization. Our education system encourages memorization.
What is a "good teacher" in your opinion?
A good teacher should know weakness and strength of a student. At the same time, she should be a mother of the student. Twenty students have twenty different minds and a teacher should know that everybody is not same. Every student will be your priority. Besides, the chairperson of the school, you are also acting as a treasurer of Bangladesh English Medium Schools Assistance Foundation (BEMSAF).
Tell me about that organization. The main purpose of BEMSAF is to address the problems and inconveniences faced by English Medium students and assist their parents in getting acquainted with the system which is often alien to their understanding. For instance, the frustration of O level candidates and to endure in order to reach distant examination halls was brought to notice by the organization so that candidates could be allotted exam venues within accessible reach.
What is the most challenging aspect of running English medium schools?
English medium schools are often targeted and suspected for being mercenary establishments which only care about making a large profit. This is the biggest problem. This system of education is fairly new as compared to the traditional system and it would greatly benefit all parties concerned if the government accepted and appreciated it instead of alienating it.
The Government is planning to do away with the "coaching business" of bangle medium schools; it should do the same with the English medium schools as well. In addition, it should be insisted that the British Council should not allow private candidates to sit for examinations. Registration via a registered school should be made mandatory.
What is your message for today's young generation?
To today's young generation, I would like to say that you are the future of the world. You have to decide that world will be like in the future. A sound education is the most powerful weapon you can have to win the world.
How would you rate the private education sector in Bangladesh and what makes Siddiqui's different?
The private education sector has great scope of improvement. Honest people with the right ethics should come forward and take the helm of this sector so that the country can benefit in all possible ways.
In Siddiqui's, we let children be children. We ensure that besides studies, students get lots of opportunities for extracurricular activities an educative entertainment. We often have fairs and programs designed to educate children through active participation and recreation. We make sure that children are never labeled as "failures" and scarred for life. A student's mental health is just as important as their physical wellbeing.
Some students leave school after class nine to attend private coaching. What could be done to attract them to continues class ten?
The parents of many students are unacquainted with the English medium system of education. Hence they are early missed by some unscrupulous teachers and their cohorts into taking their child away from the protective environment of the school premises to a largely open arena of coaching centres.
Yes some students do need consolidation for which additional private tuition is necessary for them bus as a reinforcement, not as replacement of school. Students should learn to trust their school and teachers and believe that they will get full support from them regarding the completion and practice of their syllabus.
The writer is working in
The Asian Age
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