From Hierarchy to Market: Changing Balance in Modes of Governance in Higher Education Policy in Bangladesh

Bipasha Dutta's picture
The economy of Bangladesh evolved through different phases like nationalization, denationalization and movement towards market-based economy. This paper identifies three major trends of market-based economy – privatization, trade liberalization and export promotion. The paper argues that the reports of education committee and education policy 2010 in determining the nature of higher education respond to the economic trends in several cases. By analyzing relevant existing literature and five reports of the education committee, the paper reveals that the economy has moved forward to gain market orientation from hierarchy; at the same time the focus of the education commissions reports changes from the ‘denunciation of mechanization' (1972) to ‘use of technology in education' (2013). The paper finds that the higher education system in Bangladesh is responding according to the market demand and market economy, though at a slow pace.
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The impact of structural adjustment program put forward a wide range of policy reforms including trade liberalization and privatization of state-owned enterprises in Bangladesh. Economy of Bangladesh has evolved through different phases- from nationalization in 1972 to denationalization in 1975 and finally moving closer to achieve a market based economy (Ahmed and Sattar, 2004; Baysan, 1999). This change in economic characteristics influences the direction of higher education as well. After independence till now, five major education committees were established (Qudrat-e-Khuda Education Commission, 1972; Mofiz Uddin Education Commission, 1988; Shamsul Haque Education Committee- 1997; M.A. Bari Commission, 2002; Mohammad Moniruzzaman Mia Commission, 2003) and submitted their reports and finally leading to the National Education Policy in 2000. After independence the government aimed at fostering economic growth and followed an extensive state control characterized by protected economy with a declared ideology of socialism (Ahmed, 2005; Mahmud, 2008). The nationalization of the companies and several organizations took place as a result. From 1975, the strategic focus shifted with the change in government from nationalization to denationalization. The economy also started to open up (Monem, 2006). This trend of denationalization and privatization received their full pace in the decade of 1980s. 1990s could be termed as a decade of trade liberalization for its huge expansion. Similarly, from 2000 to 2010, export promotion was encouraged. The shift from the centralized and hierarchic structure to the market approach with time affected the education system of Bangladesh. This shift is reflected in the education committee reports as well. Qudrat-e-Khuda Education Commission 1972 focused on ‘denunciation of mechanization’. Mofiz Uddin Education Commission, 1988, with the changing focus of the state, emphasized on ‘employment generation’. Shamsul Haque Education Committee 1997, to cope with the market demand, focused on ‘incorporating modern courses and curricula’. M.A. Bari Commission, 2002 also reflects the market demand by emphasizing participatory approach in education. Following the same trend, Mohammad Moniruzzaman Mia Commission, 2003 focused on the use of technology in education to cope with the challenges of the modern world. Education Policy 2010 emphasized on ‘maintaining global standard of education’. Thus, the shift in the economic direction is also reflected in the changing focus of education. The paper argues that the impact of changes in the economic direction brings changes in the overall education system and that is obvious in the evolution of education committee report and the education policy of Bangladesh, which immensely reflects the demand of market-based economy. The following section describes the objective and methodology; literature review and examples from different countries also demonstrates the impacts of changing mode of market on education in the following section. Economic direction of Bangladesh from 1972 to 2010 has been described. The decades have been classified on the basis of the major economic characteristics. The major focus of the education committee reports and Education Policy 2010 have also been described. The reflection of paradigm shift in education system from the changing economic direction has been analyzed.

Objective and Methodology
The focus of the paper is primarily on higher education to illustrate how the focus of education committees have changed regarding higher education with the movement to market-based economy in Bangladesh. The study is based on analysis of secondary data. Different national and international literature; education committee reports and education policy 2010 (MOE, 2010) have been studied.
Impact of Economy on Higher Education: International Context
In different countries, the economic direction influenced the education system in various ways. With the identification of new economic policy from 1921 onward, economic thoughts were applied in a persistent and efficient way in higher education in the Soviet Union first (Carr, 1971). Initiatives were adopted to tie higher education to industrial productivity in an efficient manner and planned economy and the trend pursued in the course of the next decade. To meet the demand of corresponding sector of national economy, Soviet Union produced highly skilled and efficient manpower and institutional autonomy of higher education also increased to convene according to the need of national demand (Neave, 1988, 1998).
After the World War II, Western Europe opened their higher education system as a response to market demand to increase productivity and promote capitalism for the job market demand was changing rapidly. To meet this short term demands of the private sector, Western Europe developed special tracks and institutions at the upper secondary level of education whose curricula were closely related to commerce and private sectors (Johnstone, 1999; Altbach, 1996; Neave & Van Vught, 1994; Albornoz, 1996).
Before November 1989, the Czech education system followed highly centralized management and administration and controlled by the government. From November 1989, access to higher education became open, especially in the new bachelor programs and in postgraduate studies and new courses like business administration, civic education and market economics were introduced and new curricula were designed to meet the market demand and emerging economy of the country(McMullan, Matthew and Prucha, 2000).
In 1990s, Poland’s overall development and the higher education system of Poland responded according to the market demand and curricula for most programs in management, business administration, law, environmental protection, banking and finance, international relations and partly in social science were restructured, sciences, with a view to making them more market oriented and less theoretical in nature (Oleksy, 2000).
In 1980, in Taiwan, Hsinchu Science-Based Industrial Park was established and two universities contributions were vital in this establishment and at the same time a large scale of educational liberalization and democratization began and the system achieved more autonomy and market orientation. Cooperative industrial research centers were established in the universities to attract corporate sponsors and to meet the industrial need and in this way increase university-industry cooperation (Tai, 2000).
From 1973-78, the demand for mid-level technicians increased and the government increased the number of vocational colleges, departments and total students. South Korean higher education system has moved together with economic development and emergence of strong market economy. Changes in the social and job market structure affect the demand and technology development would cause employees to learn new knowledge from colleges and universities (Park, 1998).
The opening up of Brazilian economy to the international market created a more competitive environment for business and more improved qualification was required from the graduates. For the prevailing poor condition of public sectors for lack of financial and institutional autonomy, some private institutions upgraded their faculty and hired retired professor from the public universities (Balbachevsky, 2000).
According to Oscar Espinoza (2000), all the universities in Chile have been affected by the economic and cultural globalization and these processes needed the universities to be internationalized. Interactions with foreign higher-education institutions through different initiatives such as the development of bilateral programs, faculty and student exchanges, joint venture programs with other universities (especially in business administration), recognition of studies from foreign institutions, participation in networks with foreign universities and opening of branch campuses in others countries took place as an impact of globalization and market demand (Espinoza & Gonzalez, 1998) and the universities modified their operations.
In Mexico, particularly since early 1990s, as an impact of privatization, higher expectations were created in terms of special skills and knowledge and the public universities were criticized for not producing expert and well-trained graduates but the private universities acted in a more businesslike manner and responded to the need of the market and society. Mexico has taken a series of initial steps to ensure the quality of higher education system and thus supply the human resource to the emerging need of the economy (Morote & Yeager 2000).
The above-mentioned literature show how the direction of economy and nature of market play a dominating role in shaping the track of higher education in different countries. Now, let’s have a look at the direction of Bangladesh economy.
Economic Direction of Bangladesh: from 1972 to 2010
After the Liberation War in 1971 in Bangladesh, when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman held the power, the primary focus was to recover from the war damaged economy and Bangladesh adopted Infant Industry Argument (ISI) and followed a state controlled ideology of socialism with extensive state control (Ahmed, 2005; Baysan, 1999; Mahmud, 2008) and nationalization of industries took place. Through ISI, trade protection was increased by subsidies and tariffs so that the imports become restricted. The aim of the protection is to flourish the domestic market to enable it to compete with the global world and external products after removing the protection (Melitz, 2005).
With the change in government in 1975, General Zia Ur Rahman came in power as a military ruler and the policy shifted from nationalization to privatization and the promotion of private sector was emphasized (Mahmud, 2008). Two trends are identified, in the first decade after independence
• 1972-75 - ISI: Trade was protected behind tariffs barriers so that the indus-tries of a war damaged economy may grow and achieve the economies of scale that their competitors from other countries already achieved.
• 1976-1980 - Initiation of Market Orientation: In 1976, trade protection was released and market began to open up by allowing imports to some extent.
H. M Ershad came to power in 1982 and continued on the same path as Zia by emphasizing on privatization and denationalization. (Monem, 2006; Mahmud, 2008). With the initiation of parliamentary democracy in 1990s, the speed of liberalization was accelerated. The opening up of market gained more pace with increasing trade liberalization in the 1990s. Export promotion grew at a gigantic rate in from 2000 to 2010.
In the same decade, export promotion tended to expand. From 1972 to 2010, Bangladesh undoubtedly moved to a market-based economy which is evident from the market orientation, massive existence of the private sector, increasing trade liberalization and export promotion.

From 1981 to 2010, these three decades can be termed on the basis of three major trends of movement to market-based economy.
1981- 90: De-Nationalization and Privatization: From 1981 to 1990 highest de- nationalization and privatization took place in Bangladesh for creating support base for the government from business sector (Monem, 2006). Thus, the decade can be termed as a decade of De-Nationalization and Privatization.
1990-00: Trade liberalization: The number of Quantitative Restrictions has been brought down from 478 in FY 85 to 124 in FY 2000 (Rashid, 2000). The maximum tariff rate has been brought down from 350% in FY 91 to 37.5% in FY 2000 (Rashid, 2000) and the 1990s can be termed as a decade of trade liberalization.
2000-10: Export Promotion: From 1999-2000 to 2004-2005, export grew by 40% and from 2004-05 to 2009-10, export grew by 101%. (MOC, 2013) and revealed the primacy of export in the decade.
Following discussions demonstrate how the committee reports have shifted their emphasis and included new issues in different time with the initiation and promotion of market orientation in the economy.

Education Committee in 1972-1980
In 1972, Qudrat-e-Khuda Education Commission was established and some significant recommendations for reforming higher education system included continuous revision of curricula and syllabus; part-time higher education and projects like Open University; adequate number of highly valuable research fellowship in each university for the brilliant students; to get rid of mechanization, coordination between science and arts education. The important objective of this committee was to strengthen the base of dynamic state structure of a newly independent country (MOE, 1972).
Education Committee in 1981-1990
As an impact of the trend of approaching market economy in this decade, there is an emphasis on employment and engineering and technical education according to the recommendations of the Mofiz Uddin Education Commission formed in 1988. According to the report, employment bureau of university and other higher education institutions should be established to help the students for employment. For engineering and technical education, training for the teachers and computer based education for the students should be initiated (MOE, 1988). The prime objective behind the formation of this committee was economic development and productive education at all levels and generation of efficient manpower.
Education Committee in 1991-2000
As an impact of trade liberalization and globalization in the 1990s, the economy required new skill and aptitude from the work force to have compatibility with the rest of the world. Shamsul Haque Education Committee- 1997; reproduced the change by proposing compulsory English of 100 marks in the three and four year course and enriched libraries in each college and universities and emphasized on the quality of Open University by stating that courses, curricula and standard of Open University should be equal to general universities (MOE, 1997).
In this report, there was an indication of pragmatic approach by suggesting increased fees for the university students, which is quite compatible with the new market mechanism emerging in Bangladesh. According to them, investment should rise to maintain the international standard of higher education. For that, charge and fees of universities should be increased and spending should be met by the bank loans and private donation.
This decade showed a substantial increasing trend in export, which is revealed by the proposition of strengthening Textile and Leather Technology College through this committee report.

Education Committee in 2000-2010
In the new century, augmentation of export promotion continued and drift to market orientation was sustained. Two education committees --Dr. M.A. Bari Commission (2002) and Mohammad Moniruzzaman Mia Commission (2003) formed in this decade (MOE, 2002, 2003). These two commissions seem to be motivated considerably by this market direction approach.
Dr. M.A. Bari Commission report suggested changes concerning syllabus, curricula, class schedule and library, it wanted students to have academic calendar including all important dates, beginning of each academic year; continuous update of syllabus; initiation of admission procedure of colleges and universities within four to six weeks of the publication of HSC results; less gap between each exam and prompt results in colleges and universities; library with all kinds of modern facilities to ensure quality education. There was an emphasis on low fees in the public universities and proposed to determine the fees in accordance with the salary of the guardians. They emphasized on a new education system, which would promote participation in the university classes and ensure exchange of views between students and teachers and computer and internet to help make all reserved books of all universities and important colleges available to both teachers and students. Different files for each university student should be maintained in the computer. For engineering and technical education, they recommended for national manpower training institute so that the engineers and technicians could serve better both in own country as well as abroad.
Proposition of using technology in education is visible in Mohammad Moniruzzaman Mia Commission report. It stated that the TV channel could be used for consciousness building and promote primary and secondary education. Continuous education system should be introduced by using technology like Radio, TV, computer and Internet etc. TV could also promote distance education. Besides, different policies and procedures were suggested to promote education for women and information technology. New strategies were stated to promote the IT sector in Bangladesh as an impact of globalization and technological advancement in the world so that Bangladesh would be able cope up with the market strategy. They intend coordination of computer graduates with the foreign organization to create computer experts in our country by providing government work to them. The ICT sector should be encouraged within the country by bringing the public and private office within automation and High Speed Communication Backbone would help to develop work relationship with the foreign countries. Software experts should be invited for a short term (6 months) to train the computer graduates.

Education Policy 2010
Education Policy 2010 adopted some of the recommendations of the commission reports especially of the two previous commissions--Dr. M.A. Bari Commission and Mohammad Moniruzzaman Mia Commission. Regarding courses and curricula, higher education would have to maintain international standard and equally emphasize on English with Bengali. The academic calendar in each colleges and university containing dates of examinations would be published in a printed version. The role of technology in education was admitted by suggesting the initiation of radio transmissions and multi-information system on TV channel like the second channel of BTV for Open University. According to the committee suggestion, attempts would be made to determine on the basis of the guardian’s income certificate and necessary steps would be followed to strengthen leather and textile colleges.
The policy affirms the women would be encouraged to professional education like engineering, medical, law, business etc. and if necessary, the number of poly-technical institutions would be raised to encourage women in technical education to bring them into core economic activities.
Following international standard is the key recommendation for the information and technology education. Continuous update of courses and curricula in light of national and international demand and supportive education in the industries and technical institutions for the students are necessary and recognition of professional and expert institutions to maintain the standard of technical and engineering education like other countries in the world should be maintained in our country.

Findings and Analysis
The focus of attention shifted in the reports of education commission from 1972 to 2010. Qudrat-e-Khuda Education Commission (1972) formed just after the independence and reflected the basics of the lately formed constitution (MOF, 2011) and focused on modification of syllabus and courses and rejection of mechanization in higher education. In Mofiz Uddin Education Commission (1988) report, employment generation and formation of information bureau of university was center of attention for higher education. Shamsul Haque Education Committee (1997) highlighted on the need of modern courses and curricula and suggested increased fees for university students, which reflects the demand of capitalism.
Dr. M.A. Bari Commission (2002) recommended a new approach to education and evaluation system and focused commencement of participatory approach and adopting measures to reduce session jam. At the same time, indication for increased fees of the students was similar and enhanced utilization of computer and internet in higher education and national manpower training institute for the engineers and technicians was suggested. Use of modern technology in education and developing work relationship with developed countries to advance in information technology were given special attention in Mohammad Moniruzzaman Mia Commission (2003) report.
Finally, Education Policy 2010 signified maintaining global standard in higher education, use of technology in education and put forward certain measures and tactics to endorse technical education and education for women at all levels. Following table shows the change in the focus in the reports of education commissions with the changing nature of market.

Table 1: Economic implications and changing focus of the reports by education commissions
Duration Economic Implication Focus of the education commission report
1972-80 ISI and Initiation to market orientation Modification of syllabus and course and denunciation of mechanization
1981- 90 De-industrialization and privatization Employment generation
1990-00 Trade liberalization Modern Courses and curricula and increased fees for student
2000-10 Export Promotion New evaluation system, participatory approach to educa-tion, use of technology in education, developing work relations with modern world.
Education policy 2010 Maintaining international standard in higher education, use of technology to promote education, women educa-tion, technical education

The table demonstrates that the focus changed from avoidance of mechanization of education to use of technology in education to all possible extent from 1972 to 2010. At the same time, the proposition to strictly maintain academic calendar, initiation of participatory approach in higher education, modern assessment system, encouraging women in technical education, increased fees for university student- all are compatible with the need of the capitalist world. With the decades focus of the education committees changed to cope with the market mechanism.
Even if we look at the objectives, Qudrat-e-Khuda Education Commission aimed to reinforce the base of a state in 1972. While the objective of Education Policy 2010 is to introduce the state to the modern and advanced world irrespective of all levels, compatibility and disparity between the job market demand and supply would be assessed by conducting surveys after a certain rime period. Clearly, there has been a paradigm shift from hierarchy to the market in the education system with market orientation in the economy. However, the implementation of the recommendations from the education committee reports and Education Policy remained very limited.

Bangladesh is moving forward to achieve a market-based economy through privatization, trade liberalization and export promotion. Economic characteristics like movement to market economy played a dominant role in the evolution of education commission reports as there is a shift of objectives and focus in these reports with the changing nature of the economy. From 1972 to 2010, the opening up of economies and increased production contributed to achieving economic growth. If we look at the overall higher education scenario, market mechanism has been playing a prevailing role. In the 1990s (that has been termed as era of trade liberalization in this study), private universities emerged in Bangladesh to meet the demand of the market economy and emerging private sectors. Semester and grading systems, which is similar to private universities regarding the evaluation system, have been initiated in Dhaka University from 2006-07 to integrate with the global education system. Also, the paradigm shift in the focus of the committee reports and education policy reflects the demand of market economy to cope with it. The objectives of the Education Policy 2010 focused on achieving standard education to cope with the global market. Though the market demand is reflected in the policy document, the implementation process is still lagging behind. The reason could also be reviewed from the lens of the market. Though massive privatization took place the privatization process has been slow in Bangladesh and the privatized companies was not proved to be efficient to the expected level as the privatization has been a political process in Bangladesh (Monem, 2006). Moreover, lack of proper economic direction like specific target and exposure to develop the industries, no particular sector has developed to boost the economy of Bangladesh which demonstrates that there exists an ambiguity in this movement to market economy. This confusion seems to prevail in the education system also. Though the policies responded according to the economic direction, there is doubt about the implication of committee reports and Education Policy.
Proper economic direction with a particular vision to boost the economy which is capable to expand particular industry and area, could have led education system to show much more compatibility with the economy and thus achieve the desired level of response from the education system as well. At the same time, to ensure compatibility between the education system and market; and to make the education system more market responsive, research on market and industry demand should be encouraged and the course and curricula should be modified frequently according to the changing market demand.