Education minister clips secretary’s wings after college admission gaffe

Nurul Islam Nahid has sidelined, if not shut out completely, Education Secretary Nazrul Islam Khan by curbing his powers in an official order. 
Khan made a huge blunder with college admission procedure that embarrassed the education minister into offering a public apology, forcing Nahid to clip his wings.

Nahid issued the directive on Tuesday after a discussion with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, virtually stripping Secretary Khan of his powers.

It was the bureaucrat who issued college admission guidelines in the absence of the education minister. The digitalised admission system was overwhelmed and crashed, making headlines.

The latest directive says no official can take any decision on their own by keeping the minister in the dark. Usually, a secretary can make some decisions while some others are finalised at the deputy secretary level.

An official at the ministry, who was not authorised to speak to the media, confirmed to all of them were secretly made to read the ministerial order and sign it at noon.

A source close to the education minister told that Hasina had summoned Nahid during the Parliament session on Monday to discuss the admission fiasco.

Nahid’s directive read: “I have had an exhaustive discussion with the honourable prime minister and she made it clear that the minister will take all decisions pertaining to the ministry. No decision can be taken without informing me.”

Officials in the ministry say the secretary had incurred the minister’s displeasure by taking several unilateral decisions since his appointment on Sept 1 last year.

Some of the circulars he had issued had been controversial. The minister had, as a matter of fact, cancelled one of them.

It is alleged that Khan used to act on his own in matters of college teachers’ promotions and transfers.

The minister had revoked his Dec 31 directive regarding the admission of students to public and private universities on the basis of their SSC and HSC results.

Several ministry officials had then claimed the minister had been ‘misled’ into signing the file. The minister became aware of it from media reports.

Khan had also issued a circular on Mar 3 that let students who failed the selection tests to appear for the SSC and HSC examinations if they had 70 percent attendance.

This decision was roundly criticised by teachers and students.

The teachers had argued that the selection test prepared the students for the final examination. Letting them appear merely on the basis of their attendance, in fact, amounted to doing them a disservice.

The education secretary had also sent out circulars making it mandatory for students to learn swimming, stressing the construction of toilets in schools, decentralisation of the MPO, creation of institution websites, and excursions. ​


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