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Job-seekers spending Tk700cr on books annually

Mir Mohammad Jasim
11 Feb 2024 21:49:00 | Update: 11 Feb 2024 21:49:00
Job-seekers spending Tk700cr on books annually

Osman Aziz, a fourth-year student of Dhaka University’s Commerce Faculty, began preparing to become a Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) cadre as soon as he got admitted at the institution. He has shifted his focus on getting ready for the job market, putting academia on the sidelines.

Aziz has already built up a collection of different types of job-oriented guide books, and he spends nearly 6-8 hours a day studying those books. He usually spends Tk 6,000 annually to buy such books.

Detailing his daily study routine, Aziz said, “After waking up every morning, I complete my chores, then go directly to the Central Library of the university to get my favourite seat. I study in preparation for jobs, and only leave the library to attend my classes and to eat.

“Most of the students in my dormitory, and also my department are busy studying for jobs as we want to become BCS cadres. Even if any one of us fails to reach the target, there are many autonomous institutions and banks in the country. We can get jobs there smoothly.”

Like Aziz, many university students across the country dream of becoming first-class government employees, and they are spending their days diligently studying job-oriented guide books.

Publishers say the domestic market size of job preparation books stands at around Tk 700 crore. This figure is becoming larger as the number of job seekers is increasing day by day.

These students are preparing for jobs in the government, and in state-owned and private sector banks. They buy books covering key topics such as Bangladesh's history, Bangla and English literature, the Liberation War, general knowledge, general mathematics, and mental ability.

The publishers print their books following the questionnaire pattern of Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC).

On average, a student or a graduate preparing for jobs needs at least 20-25 books. Each book costs around Tk 300, and they have to spend Tk 6,000 – Tk 7,000 per year for those books.

Job-seekers also need to buy many daily and weekly newspapers and current affairs magazines to stay up to date with local, national, and global events.

According to the latest annual report of the University Grants Commission (UGC), more than 40 lakh students are studying at public, private universities, and government honours level colleges across the country.

At least ten lakh graduates are entering the workforce every year.

BCS-centric books dominating sales

MP3 Publications, Professors Publications and Oracle Publications are leading the market of job preparation books. But many other small publications and individuals are also printing a huge number of books for the job-seekers.

Mohibul Alam, owner of Nargis Book center, said, “The sales of job preparation books have increased significantly in the last two months. Our sales have gone up by about one and a half to two times.

“However, profits have decreased due to an increase in the price of paper and books.”

Alamin Sarker, owner of Mithu Book House, said, “It is true that job preparation books are selling more than other books. Job seekers are regularly buying books as per their requirements from different shops in our market.

“Some of the shops are even selling books worth several lakh Taka every day, with BCS-centric books dominating the sales.”

Md Mohibur Rahman, one of the owners of Oracle Publications, said, “Sales of Oracle books have increased in recent times. Oracle has achieved the job-seekers' faith as we try to include new and something different in our all books.

Md Sohel Rana, senior manager of MP3, said, “Our sales have increased significantly, but profits decreased due to the increase in paper costs. We now have to print at least 50,000 sets of books, which used to be only 5,000-8,000 sets.

“We are optimistic about our sales going up further in the coming days.”

Online sales going up

Job-seekers usually buy books from Nilkhet, Banglabazar and different book shops near the educational institutions and local markets. But in recent times, job-seekers – especially university and college students – are buying books from online platforms.

Sales of job-oriented books in online marketplaces have soared, even taking up the top sellers’ position on some platforms.

Speaking to The Business Post, Rokomari.com Chairman Mahmudul Hasan Sohag said, “Works of fiction used to be top sellers on our platform, but career and job-oriented books have now taken the spot.

“Our buyers, mainly young people, look for BCS and other job related books at Rokomari. We predict that our sales of job-related books will continue to rise in the coming days.”

BCS Preliminary exam books in high demand

BCS aspirants first prepare for the preliminary examinations, and they buy more books from the market. Speaking with several job seekers, the correspondent found that each job aspirant buys at least 10-15 books of different subjects for BCS preliminary exams.

In 2013, 2,21,575 candidates participated in the 34th BCS examinations against 2,052 posts. Just ten years later, the number of applicants rose to 3,25,000 for 46th BCS exams, and expanded to 4,75,000 for 41th BCS exams.

Publishers say they print double the number of books for BCS preliminary exams compared to the written exams. All aspirants buy books for preliminary exams, but only aspirants who pass the preliminary, then buy the books necessary for written exams.

Several lakh students participate in preliminary exams, but according to PSC data, only 20,000-25,000 are able to qualify for written exams.

Mahmud Hasan [not real name], a fourth year student at the Department of Political Science of Dhaka University, said, “My father wants me to become a BCS cadre. So, I started preparing for the BCS preliminary exams in the second year.

“I bought many books from publishers MP3, Oracles and many others. I bought some books for the written exams, but will have to buy even more after passing the preliminary exams.”

‘Public univs now BCS institutes’

Syed Manzoorul Islam, a former professor of English at the Dhaka University, said, “The public universities have now turned into the BCS institutions. The students are preparing for BCS exams instead of their academic study. This is very unfortunate for our country.”

Echoing the same, former director of the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University Prof Siddiqur Rahman said, “Students should be busy with research. The universities should take a plan to increase research that involves both the students and teachers.

“The job-related exams also must be reshuffled. Otherwise, the higher education process will be impacted severely in the near future.”