‘Meritocracy’ to ‘Parentocracy’: (De)constructing the Theoretical Dilemma in Basic Education of Japan and Bangladesh

Md. Jahangir Alam, PhD


Assistant Professor, Department of Japanese Studies, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh. E-mail: mjalam.jsc@du.ac.bd


Globally, access to basic education is a universal fundamental human right. Conversely, governments of underdeveloped and developing countries experience several challenges in ensuring equity in basic education. Along with the government initiatives, equity in basic education also depends on parental socio-economic status. Japan has achieved significant success in students’ learning outcomes regardless of parental SES and might serve as a role model for Bangladesh to ensure equity in education. This case study research comprehends the dynamics of parental SES in accessing quality basic education for their children in Japan and Bangladesh. This paper argues that historically, meritocracy played a fundamental role in education. However, owing to the cultural paradigm shift, Parentocracy appears to be the better option for improving children’s academic outcomes. The central theoretical argument of this study is to cognise whether meritocracy or Parentocracy in the modern education system can bring equity among children. This paper finds that Bangladesh can implement the Japanese experience through curriculum modifications and play-based learning approaches to ensure equity in basic education. Finally, parental involvement is vital in ensuring equity in education to accommodate all children to receive quality basic education in Bangladesh.

Keywords Basic Education . Equity . Meritocracy . Parentocracy . Japan . Bangladesh.