INTRODUCTION AND METHOD
This study mainly aims to examine whether the learning achievement of the students of BRAC non-formal education provision called BRAC Primary Schools or BPSs has been hampered during this transitional period. Hence, the students’ learning achievement, along with their background characteristics, school-related factors, and teachers’ and Programme Organisers’ (POs) assessment about student/school quality, was examined. A number of issues related to quality of education were also analysed, including use of guidebooks, private supplementary tutoring, and recovery of cost. A sample of 800 students from 41 BPSs who started their primary education course in 2014 and completed in 2017 were brought under a Competency-based Learning Achievement Test developed for Education Watch 2000. The learning achievement of these students was compared with those of previous years. Factors affecting learning achievement and other related issues were also explored.
1. The overall performance of the graduates of BPS in terms of mean number of competencies achieved increased until 2010, but decrease afterwards. Out of 27 competencies under assessment, the students, on an average, achieved 18.7 competencies in 2017. The students’ achievement decreased a quarter of a competency per year during the period 2010-14 and a third of a competency per year during the period 2014-17, indicating a faster decrease in recent years.
2. BPS graduates performance decreased in both knowledge and understanding level items, and also in the Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) and non-MCQ type of items. Decrease was more in the understanding level items than those of knowledge level, and in the non-MCQ items than
the MCQ items. The non-MCQ and understanding level items caused a major portion of decrease in overall performance.
3. Five competencies were identified in which the students performed ‘very poorly’ because they found these ‘very difficult’ to answer. These include writing in Bangla and English, word-problem solving in Mathematics, knowing about own country, and life sketch of Prophet Muhamma (SM) or the preachers of own religion. Performance in these showed a decreasing trend.
4. Gender equality in the majority of the competencies remained throughout the period. In 2017, the boys and the girls performed equally in 22 competencies; the boys were ahead of the girls in three and vice versa in two. There was no gender difference in terms of mean number of competencies achieved; however, the boys were significantly ahead of the girls in gaining more than a median number of competencies.
5. A substantial proportion of the teachers reported that half or more of the contents of the English and the Mathematics textbooks of grade V was
difficult for them to cope with, although most of the teachers claimed that they covered more than 90% of the contents of these two subjects. This
raises a question on quality of delivery of difficult contents by a section of the teachers.
6. A positive correlation between the students learning achievement with both the POs categorisation of schools and the teachers categorisation of students, indicate that they were well aware of the quality of the schools as well as the performance of students.