Although most of us know Nurul Islam Nahid as the minister of the Ministry of Education, very few know that he always had a knack for writing. He finally debuts as one through his book; “Shiksha”, which is a compilation of his own writings that have previously been published in magazines and newspapers. It comes as no surprise that through this book Nurul Islam Nahid tries to highlight the hurdles that he has faced while trying to improve the educational sector. Some could even say that his experiences as a Minister are what make this book different. The writer provides information regarding the work that the ministry has done and additional information that many were not aware of.
The book is separated into two segments, Bangla and English. The topics of the chapters range from discussing the status quo of education and its pace of development to the TIB report, to speeches given at various international conferences.
In the first chapter, “Bangladesh: A long way to go for achieving the goal of Education”, Nurul Islam Nahid discusses about the progresses made so far by the current government and the roles that the education sector plays in the goals set by the Prime Minister herself- digital Bangladesh 2021. He shines light on the determination and dedication that the government is instilled with in achieving this goal, “Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the masses, and the people will be successful; but they will have to tread a long and thorny way”. He emphasizes how the new generation can aid in executing these plans but not with the existing current educational system. ”We want time befitting world class education, technology, knowledge and skill for our new generation. At the same time we want our youngsters to be complete human beings imbued with morality, gratitude towards the people, honesty, integrity and patriotism.”
The second chapter, which is a speech at the 36th Session of UNESCO General Conference, Nurul Islam Nahid discusses the improvements in primary and secondary education as well as the achievement of Gender parity in these levels of education.
The next chapter is an account of the speech given by the Education Minister at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development-Learning Today for a Sustainable Future. Here, he discusses about Bangladesh's achievements in ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) as one of the GEED champion countries. He also suggests some additions to the Network of Education Policy Centres (NEPC) for sustainable education realization. He hopes that through proper implementation of this policy, socio-economic disparities will decrease; equal educational opportunities for all will increase and therefore make the people more tolerant of varying ideologies. Further discussions in this chapter are about Bangladesh's National Education Policy (NEP) that currently provides free and compulsory education up till the fifth standard. Future plans are in the works to increase it to the eighth. in 2010, the government introduced a new program to reduce school drop-outs by distributing books for free.
The fourth chapter, “A Struggle for Going Forward and TIB's Report” revolves around the research report that was done by the TIB, concerning the Ministry of Education (MoE), the UGC and private universities. He showcases the flaws and proposes counter arguments to the report and also states the consequences of the report that was directed towards the Ministry of Education, the UGC and private universities. Two years of research gave birth to this report, during which period neither the MoE nor the UGC were ever approached by the TIB researchers for opinions or authentication of the information that had been uncovered. Nurul Islam Nahid shares his fears that the TIB report may result in an increase in local students to pursue their higher education's abroad and a decrease in the number of foreign students that would apply to Bangladeshi universities.
The final chapter, “Second SAARC Education Minister Meeting, New Delhi” is regarding the speech Nurul Islam Nahid gave in New Delhi. He discussed the relevance of grooming the new generation; whom he terms as the future “…architects of modern Bangladesh…”; how new programs have been introduced into the educational system to reduce and increase the rates of dropouts and the quality of education respectively, and emphasis is being given to technical and vocational education. The target is to provide the younger generation with all the knowledge required to transform them into a productive and skilled workforce ready to work in local or foreign settings. He emphasized the importance of higher education and expressed Bangladesh's deep commitment to the SAARC Process and its combined efforts.
The book focuses on the value of education to achieve a “….pragmatic, poverty free and knowledge based region free from the curse of hunger and illiteracy”.
The reviewer is a major in English Literature and a part-time reviewer.