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What are the big questions in education in 2023?

Date: 13 March, 2023

Writer : Shakil Ahmed, GM Rakibul Islam, Mehdi Hassan, and Hasibur Rahman Sohan
Source : Dhaka Tribune

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

13 March, 2023
Writer : Shakil Ahmed, GM Rakibul Islam, Mehdi Hassan, and Hasibur Rahman Sohan
Source : Dhaka Tribune
· Reading Time: 6 Minutes

What are the big questions in education in 2023?

What are the big questions in education in 2023?

This is the first part of a multi-part series on the future of education in Bangladesh. Part one looks at the three foundational principles guiding the questions and the one big question we must ask to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education.

As we move into the end of the first quarter of 2023, there are a number of different topics pertinent to the futures of education in Bangladesh.

We created #NextGenEdu in 2020 as a global network, born out of Bangladesh, to nurture communities of practice and create, curate, and share relevant content to advance the future of education.

Our current task has been to collect the big questions in education in Bangladesh, which require collective sense-making. We know that our list is not exhaustive, but there are certain principles that we hold dear.

Foundational principles

1. We are living in a time of dynamic change in education in Bangladesh. The government has not only launched a new National Curriculum, but it has also been developing a Blended Education Master Plan, an effort that brings multiple ministries together to work towards the future of education — the first inter-ministerial educational master plan in Bangladesh.

Even though the plan is yet to be officially approved, there is no denying that all entities are embracing some form of a mixture of using face-to-face and virtual modalities in their teaching-learning techniques, whether it be for student learning, teacher professional development, or even professional development of actors working in the education ecosystem. Such dynamic change requires the system to make sense of multiple different questions.

2. We believe that any complex challenge — such as ensuring a one, kind world where all learners have quality learning opportunities — requires collaboration, and any act of collaboration requires trust.

In our search for the questions, we tried to bring together stakeholders from different points of the educational ecosystem, be it student, teacher, caregiver, government policymaker, entrepreneur, etc. Collective sense-making requires spaces to be intentionally built to nurture trust.

3. Education is highly interdisciplinary and any topic or question suggested would be linked to multiple other topics or suggestions. Sense-making in one question can help sense-making in other questions as well.

There are some pertinent questions we think are worth reflecting on in 2023, starting with:

Learning loss and learning outcomes: The state of learning for all learners. How do we address it?

It can be argued that learning loss is a phenomenon that occurred even before the pandemic. However, the pandemic exacerbated the degree of learning loss, given that schools were closed and not all learners were able to continue learning virtually.

Even learners who were able to continue virtually may have mixed experiences regarding the quality of learning they experienced virtually versus learning pre-pandemic.

To understand the state of education, situational analyses need to be conducted to understand the level of learning across multiple students, the quality of teaching-learning methods, the quality of educational content and resources, the quality of assessments, the quality of teacher professional development, and the quality of inclusive infrastructure.

Such analyses will also enable multiple stakeholders to understand the readiness of the system to incorporate the new curriculum, as well as blended learning techniques.

Teachers may have to undergo further professional development to understand what to do so that students can recover learning loss — a range of skills that can arguably be useful not just to address what happened during the pandemic, but even for the future, where students may be experiencing learning loss for multiple reasons.

However, it is not clear how well-received “learning loss” is by multiple stakeholders and may not necessarily be a useful phrase to address the state of learning of all students.

Any phrase or metaphor has real-world implications on the discourse and thus on the systems and policies that emerge from the discourse.

The question, thus becomes, what metaphor would be useful to address the state of learning — should it be learning loss or should it be learning gain? Should it be personalized learning in a no-tech/low-tech environment or should it be about achieving learning outcomes, irrespective of a learner’s state of learning. These are some of the high level questions that have to be there in the minds of policymakers and stakeholders.

The second part of this piece will be published March 20, 2023.


Shakil Ahmed is an educator, futurist, storyteller at Ridiculous Futures and Country lead at EdTech Hub. Mehdi Hassan is the e-learning Associate at a2i Programme of ICT Division. G M Rakibul Islam works as an Assistant Professor and Chairman at the Department of Educational Administration in Noakhali Science and Technology University. Hasibur Rahman Sohan is Director, Program, Teach for Bangladesh.

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