Masters in Bangladesh: A False Hope

If I were to recommend someone to pursue post-graduate studies, I would advise them to do it abroad.

After enduring the most exhausting break of my student life, I am finally preparing to sit for my master’s exam on January 31, 2021. Originally scheduled for April 2019, the pandemic has caused numerous delays and disruptions in various aspects of life worldwide. Nonetheless, I am grateful to Allah that my pursuit of a master’s degree seems within reach.

While the pandemic itself does not bother me significantly, there is one aspect that deeply concerns me: the vague curriculum of master’s degrees in Bangladesh. It appears to be an education system lacking vision or a clear goal of specialization. This raises questions about the purpose of pursuing a master’s degree. Should it not be aimed at gaining proficiency in a specific field, preparing students for a Ph.D. or professional job? Then why does my university force me to learn six different areas simultaneously?

As a Biotechnology student at one of the top-ranked universities in my country, I can’t help but feel despair when contemplating my master’s curriculum. Let me provide some details. I am required to take six theory courses and complete a thesis work. The thesis itself is manageable, offering ample opportunities to learn research and publish quality papers.

However, the issue lies with the theory courses. Each course covers a subject that could warrant a dedicated master’s degree. Does this not seem absurd? If you are fortunate enough not to be trapped within this system, it may appear bizarre to teach graduate students six different biotechnology fields simultaneously when mastery in a particular area is the desired outcome.

As I prepare for my master’s exam, studying becomes a source of irritation. The repetition of topics across the six subjects is overwhelming. Sometimes I find myself revisiting topics I already covered during my undergraduate years. As an enthusiastic learner in the field of bioscience, this type of curriculum is disheartening. It not only induces feelings of nausea but also elicits a sense of frustration with the education system.

The university administration could provide better options and advanced topics to maintain our motivation. Unfortunately, we are left with no choice but to memorize whatever they throw at us. We are powerless to change this flawed system. This mundane postgraduate study curriculum, where “learning” feels like an unattainable dream rather than a reality, only serves to breed depression and stifle our creative thinking.

Perhaps due to this illogical system, thousands of students have decided to take the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) exam. It is disheartening to witness how the passion for research that my 39 classmates and I had in our freshman year has dwindled over time. Has our education system ever bothered to address these questions? It appears not. False hope and irrelevant dreams propagated by our education system seem to be the main culprits.

This begs the question: Why can’t we learn from our neighboring countries? Recently, I engaged in a fascinating conversation with one of my teachers from another department, who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Australia. He completed his master’s degree in Malaysia in 2017. When I asked about his experience there, he responded with enthusiasm, stating that his master’s study was quite different.

“In Malaysia, they admit master’s students with a specific goal: to become experts in a particular field. I focused on corporate business throughout my master’s degree, and I am proud to say that I have acquired commendable knowledge and experience in this field.”

Listening to his description of the Malaysian master’s curriculum and reflecting on my own experience with the master’s course curriculum here, I cannot help but feel nihilistic about pursuing a master’s degree in Bangladesh. It seems to be a meaningless endeavor.

Looking ahead, as I approach the completion of this postgraduate degree, including my thesis, it is likely that I will finish this degree on a high note. However, I question whether it will truly enrich my mind with new experiences. In my country, the emphasis is placed on the degree itself, rather than the process and quality of education. How one completes the degree is rarely scrutinized. So, it is what it is—a final act on the shores of a flawed education system.

If I were to recommend someone to pursue post-graduate studies, I would advise them to do it abroad. At least there, they would have the opportunity to learn something meaningful, something that holds value, unlike the empty pursuit that my own education has become.

In conclusion, the prevailing master’s degree curriculum in Bangladesh lacks coherence and specialization, leaving students overwhelmed and disillusioned. The system fails to foster true mastery in a particular field, hindering the development of expertise and stifling creativity. As individuals navigate their academic journeys, it is essential to critically examine the education system and seek alternatives that prioritize genuine learning and growth.

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Author Bio

Md Amit Hasan

Hello! I am AMIT HASAN, first year PhD Student in Neuroscience at Institute of Neuroscience Paris-Saclay (NeuroPSI), University of Paris-Saclay, Paris, France. Previously, I completed my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at Rajshahi University, Bangladesh. Afterward, I pursued my master’s degree in Life Sciences and Health, followed by Computational Neuroscience and Neuroengineering at the University of Paris-Saclay in Paris, France.

I am highly passionate about applied research. Brainstorming research problems, doing experiments inside the laboratory, analyzing a large volume data set, and finally deducing a result from that intrigues me a lot. Since I am fond of unpredictability in life, and research capable of supplying that now and then, my future goal is to spend as much time as possible in academia.

Here, I often write short stories, book reviews, and travel stories.

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