Preparations for post-graduation jobs – mainly for government ones – have shaped a vibrant book market in Bangladesh.
The job readiness book market size in the country now stands at over Tk 600 crore. And it is getting bigger and bigger with more than 10 lakh graduates entering the job market every year.
With the desire to be first-class government job holders, a very large portion of job seekers study all day to prepare for the Bangladesh Civil Service Examination (BCS) administered by the Commission of Bangladesh Civil Service (BPSC).
As the BCS exam syllabus is designed with fundamentals related to Bangladeshi history, Bengali and English literature, liberation war, general knowledge, general mathematics, mental ability and others, a candidate for a job must buy and memorize at least 15 -20 books to prepare for the battle of the job.
If the average price of each book is Tk 300, a job seeker has to spend Tk 5,000-6,000 per set of books.
Also, job seekers have to buy many current newspapers and magazines to keep up to date with local, national and global events.
Additionally, preparing for other government jobs and jobs in public and private banks requires specific sets of books.
According to sources, MP3 Publications, Professors Publications, and Oracle Publications dominate the job readiness book market.
The craze for government jobs is crazy in the country and as a result, students start preparing for BCS exams even before they graduate.
Take, for example, the daily routine of Abir (pseudonym), a third-year student in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Dhaka who stays in a dormitory.
He wakes up at six in the morning. After taking a bath and completing other necessary tasks, he leaves for the university’s central library with some books in his bags.
The library opens at 8 a.m., but he gets there an hour and a half earlier because the number of seats in the library is too low to accommodate the large number of government job enthusiasts like Abir who throng the city every day. library.
Over 1 p.m. from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every weekday, he spends more than 10 hours studying to prepare for the job at the library. He only leaves the library to join classes in his department and returns shortly after classes end.
He gets his breakfast, lunch and snacks from various grocery stores, cafeterias and canteens.
Abir’s case is not unique. In fact, most college students who aspire to become first-class government employees maintain a similar routine.
Mamun Book House, an approximately nine-square-foot bookstore in Nilkhet that sells work-related books, is popular among job seekers.
On a visit to the shop recently, The Business Standard found the shop, which sits along the road, jam-packed with shoppers.
One of the owners of the bookstore told TBS that it sells several hundred thousand books every day, with BCS-centric books dominating sales.
Md Mohibur Rahman, one of the owners of Oracle Publications, told TBS that Oracle was successful in convincing job seekers.
“We were struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic as job flyer postings were scarce since 2020. We hope our sales will increase as the pandemic situation is now stable,” he said.
Md Sohel Rana, Senior Manager of MP3, told TBS that the demand for their work readiness books is increasing day by day.
“We printed 5,000 to 7,000 sets of books even a few years ago. Now we aim to print around 50,000 sets if the pandemic does not get worse in the future,” he said. he declares.
Books for BCS Preliminary Exams in High Demand
To prepare well for the preliminary exam, the first step to entering the BCS, every job seeker needs at least 10 books.
According to the publishers, books for the BCS pretests are the best sellers because a large number of candidates can take this first phase of the exams.
Those who want to prepare well for exams sometimes buy more than one set of books from separate publishing houses, they added.
Normally, several lakh candidates take part in the BCS preliminary exams, but 20,000 to 25,000 qualify for the next stage of the exam and purchase books for the written tests.
Again, others who think they will pass the preliminary exam and have the opportunity to participate in the written exams are buying books in advance to prepare for the written exams, the publishers said.
Noman Hossain, a second year student from the Department of Government and Politics at Jahangirnagar University, told TBS that his main goal was to be part of the BCS framework and that is why he bought a set of books MP3. He also collected some other books related to job reviews.
“I read and try to memorize the contents of books in addition to my university studies. But I give priority to the study of work-related books. Many of my friends do the same,” he said. declared.
BCS candidates on the rise
Education watchers said about 80% of college graduates nationwide are primarily trying to get government jobs, particularly the BCS.
No less than 2,21,575 candidates took part in the 34th BCS exams against 2,052 positions in 2013.
Just seven years later, the number of candidates has risen to 4,75,000 – the highest in the history of Bangladesh Civil Service Examinations (BCS).
Even though many job seekers have passed the age limit for accessing government jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic and many students have been unable to complete their studies for the same reason, the number of BCS applicants was almost the same at the 43rd and 44th BCS exams.
What are the experts saying?
Syed Manzoorul Islam, a former professor of English at the University of Dhaka, told TBS: “It is worrying that a good number of students have been preparing for BCS since the beginning of their student life instead of focusing on university studies.”
“University students should focus on research but unfortunately they are busy with job-related studies. It is a very unpleasant situation that students in Dhaka University Library are studying guidebooks in the as part of their preparation for employment.
Professor Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University, told TBS that higher education should be research-based.
“Students should be busy with research. But our students are busy memorizing guides to finding jobs. That should be stopped,” he said.
He also recommended that job-related exams be designed to assess candidates’ creative skills.