Moral degradation, social restlessness, aggressiveness, depression, and suicide have increased on a national level among school/college students exam phobia, drug addiction, eve teasing are amongst the psychosocial problem and antisocial activities that have increased. Healthy normal psychological development and effective educational system are needed for its treatment and prevention.
Psychology started as a separate department in the University of Dhaka in 1965. In 1963, Office of Student Counseling & Guidance was founded by Late Prof. M K Ali to provide psychological counseling services to the students and employees of Dhaka University. It is considered as the first application of psychology beside academic pursuit.
Dr. M F Zaman was the founder head of the Department of Psychology at Dhaka University. It was his vision to see Psychology being applied in everyday life. Although the courses are mainly academic, the application of psychological principles started mainly with the setting up of Department of Clinical Psychology in 1997 Since then a separate professional course for Educational Psychology was being considered. In this respect, I would like to mention the name of Dr. Z. N. Sayeed, a renowned British Chartered Educational Psychologist. It is her sincere effort, interest, hard work and devotion that has made us enthuse to take the very first step to start a professional training course in Educational Psychology at the Department of Psychology in DU.
In the year 2006, we finally started our professional course of MS program in Educational Psychology. It was started as a 2nd stream of MS program in the deptt. of Psychology. 5 students were admitted to the MS course. 4 of them were from DU and 1 from RU, who had completed their B.Sc.(Hons) in Psychology. They had to go through an admission test for getting admission to this professional course. We call them EPiTs. The Chairman and teachers of the Department of Psychology are very co-operative and helpful in running this training course. They share their expertise with the trainee to enhance their knowledge. In our department, there are space constraints. But we manage to take classes. Teaching approach of the trainees is different from the traditional teaching methods. A shift from pedagogical model to andragogical model is followed. As it is a professional course, emphasis is given on practical aspects besides theoretical knowledge. Learning through explorations and experiences is emphasized. Much emphasis is given on presentations, placements, fieldworks, observations, testing, assessments and interventions. Though 60% of the course is theoretical and 40% is applied as per university course structure, but trainees spend long hours learning practical applications of the knowledge. They are sent to different normal and special schools and organizations to learn to observe and to assess children. Ultimately it will enhance quality education. They learn how to help a parent, how to assist teachers in their profession. They learn to work with exceptional children. The aim is to make learning effective.
Beside different schools, EPiT s visit National Mental Health Institute, ICMH, Matuail, ICDDR,B, Child Development Center, deptt of Clinical Psychology, BRCT, Autistic Welfare Foundation, Beautiful Mind - a school for autistic children, Kalyani, Bangladesh Protibondhi Foundation, NCTB, Banbeis, Directorate of Primary Education and many more in order to observe and learn how to assess children and how children can be helped in their academic aspect. Many workshops and training programs are arranged for the trainees to learn assessment and intervention strategies. Most workshops are arranged at Center for Excellence. Resource persons from different organizations train them to meet their goals. Currently, Prof. Shamim F Karim, Prof. Shaheen Islam, Mahjabeen Haque, Prof. H A Begum and Prof Sultana Banu, Syed Tanveer Rahman are the departmental teachers who are teaching. Dr. Shirin Z. Munir is a part-time teacher with vast experience in special education and Prof. Nazmul Huq of IER is also a resource person with vast experience in the field of education.
Educational psychologists are appointed to help students who face educational problems. These problems are related to learning, such as not understanding the lessons, lack of attention, school phobia, math phobia, exam phobia, inability to ask question, or inability to receive education. Social and family problems such as, parents' quarrels/ separation can be reasons for student's inattentiveness, loss of interest, depression. Overly strict discipline or permissiveness at home can lead to self withdrawal or disobedience, delinquency, aggressive behaviour. These types of mental pressure, anxiety, depression, different types of fear, telling lies, suicide, eve teasing may lead to emotional and behavioural problems which can be obstacle to receiving education. Educational psychologists in school help the students to overcome these types of mental pressure. In a similar manner, according to the students' needs, the teachers, school authority, and parents are helped to take the appropriate steps. Students' problems are usually identified through interview with teachers, parents, and students, and different psychological tests such as, intelligence test, interest and aptitude test. Subsequently, the Educational Psychologist helps teachers, parents, and school authority to take a holistic approach and help the students overcome their problems. Slow learners and gifted children's special needs are considered to include them in preventive and inclusive education.
To this end, exceptional children as the mentally challenged are included in govt. inclusive education program. To guarantee the government's initiative, the Educational Psychologist can render valuable service. Educational Psychologist can consider the individual differences of students and implement the Individual Education Program. The Educational Psychologist is also involved in curriculum development, teachers' training, teachers' anxiety, stress management, time management, examination and evaluation procedure for enhancing the school's effectiveness through the workshop and seminar.
In December 2004, Dr. Sayeed and Dr. Mary Robinson from the University of East London came to the Deptt.of Psychology to give Training to Teachers to interested teachers. After that Dr. Sayeed made several trips at her own expense to render possible help to the teachers. Interested teachers underwent prolonged training and went on placement to gain hands on experience to make themselves equipped to run the course. Some teachers even went to UK at their personal expense to learn more about the course. The academic council meeting at the University of Dhaka of 07/08/2006 approved the course. 95% of those with the MS degree are employed in different institutions as Psychologists/School Counsellors. At present six students are enrolled in the next phase i.e. M. Phil. All of them are working with good reputation which has helped the public feel the need for Educational Psychologists.
Throughout the development of Educational Psychology, several national and international level conferences, seminars, and workshops have been held of which three were international. The Honourable Education Minister Mr. Nurul Islam Nahid and the Chairman of University Grants Commission Professor Nazrul Islam were among the respected personnel present . At different times the students and teachers of Educational Psychology have prepared brochure and newsletters.
The work of this Professional Educational Psychology course started in 1996 and till today in 2011 it has taken a complete picture. A total of six batches with 30 students have or are completing and each of them are contributing with credit in their own areas. From 2006 the work of Professional Counselling Psychology course has started and till today in 2011 a total of 21 students have or are completing. Educational and Counselling Psychologists are all contributing with credit in their own areas. Different schools and institutions are asking us for more human resource but we are unable to provide these at this moment.
On the other hand, the work of the Counselling Psychologist is not limited to the educational institutions only. They have to work in hospitals, different service rendering institutions, NGOs, court, industrial organizations to maintain the individual's mental health. They have to look after marital relationship, increase the communication between parent-child, conflict resolution between management and worker, vocational counselling, and improve mental health by reducing conflict, anxiety, and fear. They can render services during natural disasters, and other accidents to reduce the trauma and bring back normal life. Parental anxiety, stress management, anger management, parenting skills are some areas where workshop, seminar can bring healthy mental development.
Counselling Psychologist can help the individual to understand his own world clearly, and give a meaningful analysis to the information to reach a decision. Besides, they also help in maintaining satisfying interpersonal relationship between individuals when emotional problems arise. The individual is encouraged to think, to feel and behave in a changed way, so his skills and aptitude are identified to develop his self- confidence and self empowerment
In continuation some teachers of the Dept. of Psychology received training in Counselling Psychology from 1998 at home and abroad. Subsequently, two teachers received their Diploma in Counselling Certificate from ASHA Counseling Centre in India by receiving their training from internationally certified trainer Ms. P.K. Saru. At present they are undergoing certified Transactional Analysis Training under International Analysts Association. As a result from 2009 another stream of Masters Course from the Deptt.of Psychology was started as Counselling Psychology. The academic council meeting of 21/12/2008 approved this course. Professor Dr. Nilanjona Sanyal of Calcutta University gave necessary advice when preparing the syllabus of this course. At present second batch of Counselling Psychology is under training.
Association with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) of Australia:
In 2009 the then Chairman of the Deptt.of Psychology Prof. Dr. Shamim F. Karim contacted Associate Prof. Dr. Linda Gilmore of the School of Education. At her interest Dr. Linda Gilmore while on a visit to Bangladesh conducted a training course for 7 days on Educational Psychology. Later, she paid another visit to Bangladesh in 2010 and gave intensive training on children's Assessment and Intervention and brought books and tests for the Dept. at that time she discussed the possibility of collaboration with the Vice-Chancellor. A MOU was signed between the two Universities. Dr. Linda Gilmore was successful in receiving a grant of 10 thousand Australian dollars from the Australian Psychological Society for the development of Educational Psychology. From this grant two teachers and two students have gone to visit QUT for intensive training in May 2011 and two teachers from QUT are going to visit Bangladesh in July 2011 to render training.
So it is essential to open a new Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology to provide this requirement. We are happy to say the Syndicate of the University of Dhaka has approved this on 20.4.2011. This is the current status of the newly approved Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology
The emergence of Educational and Counseling Psychology at the University of Dhaka
Mahjabeen Haque & Prof. Shamim F. Karim
Department of Psychology
University of Dhaka
Quality education is the key to national development. There is no alternative to developing the 15 crore population into human resource except through self development and effective education. The govt. of Bangladesh has taken various steps to improve education and health services.
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