ACCORDING to the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS), government expenditure on a primary student was Tk 4,676 in 2012, while a study titled ‘Bangladesh Primary Education Stipends: Achievements and Challenges’ published on February 27 this year said that in 2012 families had spent Tk 4,788 on a student of Class IV and V a year, excluding the cost of refreshment, reported a local daily on Saturday. BANBEIS said that in the same year, government expenditure on a lower secondary student was Tk 5,358 and an upper secondary student was Tk 8,134 while the Education Watch report 2012 said that a family had to spend Tk 1,257 on a secondary student a month, which amounted to Tk 15,084 a year. There are 19,208 secondary schools enrolling 79.37 lakh students, 37,670 government primary schools with 1.07 crore students and 22,101 registered primary schools, which have recently been nationalised, enrolling 41 lakh students. It is overwhelmingly apparent that the amount that the government spends per capita on education is insignificant – and for this the true fault lies in our political culture and system of governance – both of which are prone to endemic corruption and nepotism. A culture of violence of ‘you pat my back and I’ll pat yours’ spawns insecurity which lessens private investment levels and thus reduces real GDP growth – economic research has shown that every 1% increase in the corruption level reduces economic growth by 0.72%. So the problem contains the solution – the culture of rivalry spawns insecurity – which in turn reduces economic growth and spawns corruption – by even a modest estimate over 20,000 crore worth of bank deposits all over the world belong to our citizens. Add to that our black economy – which is anywhere from over six lakh crore to over 10 lakh crore takas – and it is easy to guess that had our political culture been otherwise we would already be at the level of Sri Lanka or even Thailand by now. A more secure society would mean that the outflow of funds would stop and more money would be got as revenue – which could be easily spent on improving the infrastructure of schools and paying more money to recruit top talent as teachers – as nations like Germany do. This would enhance the prestige of teaching jobs and allow the best in the country to remain teachers and trains others to teach – resulting in an vastly improved performance for our students and an overall improvement in the efficiency of our labour force. This would also reduce our dependence on foreign workers and thus also improve our external financial position ¾ further adding to our economic growth. So long the government continues to make lower investment in primary education, it will, in the ultimate analysis, be counterproductive manifested in poor or sub-standard education and lower national productivity.