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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Scholastic Wealth

The dearth of good educational institutions in Bangladesh is something we are all aware of. However, when entrepreneurs like Mrs.Yasmeen Murshed who I like to presume are well aware of thier social corporate responsiblity use this opporunity to amass wealth, we can't help but feel sad about the future of education in our country.

Scholastica School was established during the late 1970s and has been one of the pioneers of English medium education in Bangladesh following the GCE Syllabus under the University of London, preparing students to sit for their Ordinary Level/Advanced Level exams under the jurisdiction of the British Council. The school has come a long way since then but unfortunately we can not say the same about the standard of education that is being offered at the moment. Realizing that the school is a major cash cow, the management has been increasing the fees and yearly charge over the years causing the parents to resort to seeking legal help. There have been court cases against Scholastica on this issue, but the verdict went for the school managment forcing the parents to pay the increased fees and yearly charge. Rumour has it that Mrs. Murshed used her connections with the past BNP led government at the time to achieve this. Moreover, the students are made to buy their books, stationery and uniforms from the bookstore, ETC. owned by the Scholastica Group which is also a significant source of income for them.

All this was fine only if the standard of education was maintained in the school. Students from Scholastica I've spoken to give me horror stories about the rampant use of drugs, pornographic material and alcohol within the school premises. They just have to and I repeat, have to go for private tuition to the school teachers (in some cases, students opt for teachers who are not affiliated with Scholastica) if they want decent grades in their O/A level exams. But attending the classes and studying at home is not enough any more. Well .... I remember it used to be! Almost all the senior teachers who have made Scholastica what it is today left the organisation during the 90s realising that they were not being compensated reasonably for their services. That has however, not changed the way the management thinks and they have gone on to hire amateur, commercial and incompetent teachers to replace them. Not a single person who's studied in Scholastica during the 80s or 90s who I've spoken to, want to enroll their children there. Why? Fortunately, that is not the case with institutions like Sunbeams or South Breeze that have continued to offer a good level of education along with good moral views for young minds.

The group today has several companies and their interests range from interior decoration, developing real estates, credit cards, transport services, food and beverages to God knows what else! Scholastica today is synonymous with 'the fast and the furious' -- rich kids with fast cars, oblivious of their roles and responsibilities as future citizens. The students there are being groomed up to attend Atif Aslam concerts at the Radisson/International Club from the age of 12 (tickets sold at ETC.), drink 150 taka worth coffee (from Coffeeworld), live in luxurious apartments (by OHS), start using credit cards billed to daddy (the flop credit card idea by the group) and indulge in pizza (the group's latest venture) ..... you're just not COOL otherwise.

There is absolutly nothing wrong with being enterprising and no doubt Mrs. Yasmeen Murshed has achieved a lot in a male dominated society like ours, but I think it's about time she starts taking an interest in the school which has made all this possible for her. She has a responsibility to the children, the parents and the nation.


Anonymous said...

Scholastica belongs to STS Group which also owns the Apollo Hospital in Dhaka and ETC. retail chains. Very sad to know how the school is squeezing out money out of our pockets. But hey, they have ETC. shops to squeeze out more money so that we can buy gifts, stationery items etc. and if we nearly faint or die of shock, heart attack, they have one of the most expensive hospital ready in town to put an end to your life...all the way luxurious service....from student to deathbed!

Anonymous said...

Scholastica does NOT belong to the STS group which owns Apollo. Plz do understand this.
I am a Scholastican. still studying here. yes it maybe true that the quality of education that Scholastica offers has degraded but definately not diminished. There are still Teachers out there in the school who are pining behind us the students 24/7 to develop ourselves to our true potential. You talk of the use of alcohol and pornographic material being used in the school everywhere , I completely disagree with this. Yes there may be the few rare situations when someone does get caught containing some illegal thing to school but i know that it is the same in every other school in Dhaka.
It is true that Scholastica has made its name for increasing fees and etc but please do keep in mind the expenses it has to face to provide Modern day education to us Students.
Having to go to tuitions is completely the choice of the student. If he/she thinks that yes she requires extra help...why should not she go ? Though i must say that the teachers in our school are always chattering at us to go to them if we need help during our free classes so that they can help and that so within the school boundaries.

"The students there are being groomed up to attend Atif Aslam concerts at the Radisson/International Club from the age of 12 (tickets sold at ETC.), drink 150 taka worth coffee (from Coffeeworld), live in luxurious apartments (by OHS), start using credit cards billed to daddy (the flop credit card idea by the group) and indulge in pizza (the group's latest venture) ..... you're just not COOL otherwise."
< To these words i say This is completely FALSE. Not everyone studying in Scholastica come from families who are able to support such extravagances. and I add the people you talk of are only a mere 10% of the whole population of Students studying in Scholastica.

In conclusion, I say that yes some of your "expressed views" are true, but if you were a True Scholastican or a part of its family at any point of time, you would surely have known the true worth of Scholastica is beyond riches.

Anonymous said...

one thing i forgot to add earlier, the STS u see printed on the school buses and various microbuses stand for "Scholastica Transport Services".

Now if you're jealous of Ms.Murshed growing business, your problem.


Anonymous said...

nice talk. now can anyone enlighten us about the mindframe through which the english medium students are groomed to be a citizen. isnt it a lot bit of western? like u have to study abroad or u r a looser cause bd cant provide u the deserved position or status as ur intellect. i m not an english medium student so i hope some frm that background will enlighten up as well as some frm bangla medium too. pls response if u have time.

asif said...

Ei lekha ta porey amar mot ekdom bodlay gelo. Lekhok ba lekhika besh khamkheyali gobeshona korechey, ebong Scholasticans der bepaarey shothik tothyer bodoley shudhu gujob i likhechey. Amar onek friends chilo oi school e. Angelmorner shaathey eki konthey boltey hobey, tara beshir bhaag i ei rokom jibon jaapon kortey paarto na.

Anonymous bhai, amiyo English medium chaatro. Jodio Scholasticar moto eto famous kono school er noy. Apnar jonnei ei comment ta ami Banglay likhechi, apnakey dekhanor jonno ke English-medium maanei je Western othoba kharap citizen howa ta noy.

When I was invited to write for this blog some weeks back, they told me that I could write about anything other than politics. Frankly, now I'm laughing as this seems to be nothing more than the social "politics" of EMS vs. BMS. Hardly corporate news. I initially did not respond to the invitation because I really didn't have the time, but I felt this was a good initiative. I wish the bloggers here well and hope that the editors set better benchmarks for their contributors.

মাহমুদ said...

শুনলাম আপনাদের সব কথা। কিন্তু একটা ইনফরমেশন সর্ম্পূন ভুল। স্কলাস্টিকা স্কুল, এসসেন্ট গ্রুপ এর একটি প্রতিষ্ঠান। এর সাথে এসটিএস গ্রুপ এর কোন সম্পর্ক নেই। নেই এপোলো হাসপাতালের কোন লিংক।