Primary Education Thriving for Sustainable Development

15 December 2019

Md. Arifuzzaman :
Bangladesh is striving for achieving the status of middle income country by 2021 and developed country by 2041. Simultaneously, Bangladesh adopted the agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) after completing the period of Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Considering sustainable development and Vision 2021 and 2041 Primary Education of Bangladesh needs to be paid special attention because Primary Education is the basement of all sorts of development. However, obtaining a quality education is the foundation to ensure sustainable development .In the past decade, major progress was made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrollment rates in schools, particularly for women and girls. Basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals.
Sustainable development can be defined as development that meets the needs for the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The 2030 agenda for sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. It has 17 goals 169 targets 232 indicators, which are an urgent call for action by all countries. Moreover, SDG-4 is quality education that will ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
SDG-4 is composed of 7 outcome targets and 3 means of implementation.
Outcome targets
1. Universal primary and secondary education: By 2030 ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
2. Early childhood development and universal pre-primary education: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.
3. Equal success to technical/ vocational and higher education: By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
4. Relevant skills for decent work: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
5. Gender equality and inclusion: By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.
6. Universal Youth Literacy: By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.
7. Education for sustainable development and global citizenship: By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture's contribution to sustainable development.
Means of implementation:
1. Effective learning environments: Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
2. Scholarships: 2020 substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries.
3. Teachers and educators: By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries.
Primary education in Bangladesh is divided into different levels, for instance, Government primary school, English medium primary school, Madrasah education, Non-government and pre-cadet school, finally, primary school led by NGO.It is noted that, sustainable development in primary education level, means, ensuring quality education in primary sector. Quality includes the holistic development of primary education. Bangladesh government has taken different initiatives to develop primary education from all aspects. The beginning of this initiative was started by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu sheikh Mujibur Rahman by nationalizing 36165 primary school in 1973. After that great achievement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared the nationalization of 26000 primary schools in 2013.
To continue the development initiatives, the students are provided with free new books at the very beginning of the year. Newly introduced scholarship, mid-day meal, reforming student council is being emphasized. Furthermore, to ensure quality education in primary sector different types of sports, cultural events, quiz, and academic type competitions have been introduced. For the sustainable development of primary education government has taken various development projects to reshape the infrastructure of primary school. PEDP-3 project is a mega project to restructuring primary education.Government has appointed huge number of teachers for primary sector. Multimedia classrooms and digital attendance have been introduced to minimize student absence and dropout rate. These initiatives have been proved fruitful to bring enormous progress in achieving the target of universal primary education.
According to the survey of primary education department, dropout rate of primary school in 2005 was 47.2 percent, in 2006 was 50.5 percent, in 2007 was 50.5 percent, in 2010 was 39.8 percent, in 2012 was 26.2 percent, and lastly in 2018 was 18.6 percent. After analyzing the data it can be denoted that, the dropout rate has declined more than 50% within a decade. The success was possible for the right initiative of the government led by honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Finally, the government determined to bring down dropout rate in primary school into 0% within a short period.
There are some barriers in primary education for its sustainable development. Firstly, Hunger along with malnutrition is the first and foremost barrier to the primary education. Secondly, ensuring regular attendance because of poverty, illness, fear of school and lack of awareness. Thirdly the lack of modern and qualitative teaching method. The quality of a student is being hampered due to defective teaching method. Fourthly, lack of sincerity of teachers and guardians that causes the students to make them scared about their schools instead of pleasure. Fifthly, lack of child friendly environment in primary school and finally, the society is not aware enough to ensure sustainable development of our primary education.
To meet the challenges and barriers in primary education the government initiated scholarship system, providing free books, multimedia classrooms, mid-day meal, training for teachers, appointing new teachers, digital attendance, school managing committee, provision of meeting with guardians and constructing new school building etc. But there are many scopes to improve the situation, such as:
n    The authority of primary education should be more active to ensure sustainable development in primary education.
n    The class rooms should be made child friendly so that, they can get an environment for quality education.
n    Teachers should be friendlier to the children.
n    Education materials should be easily available.
n    Any sort of discrimination of a teacher should be eradicated.
n    Social Status of a teacher should be upgraded,
n    Vocational training can be incorporated in primary education.
n    Pre -primary and nursery class can be playful and charming avoiding any kind of formal examination.
n    Accountability of teachers and managing committee should be enhanced.
n    Intensive training for teachers can be enhanced, so that, they can prepare themselves as good teachers.
n    Learning with play method can be introduced in our nursery section.     
Bangladesh Government is striving enormously to ensure quality education in primary school. It can be revealed that within a short period, Bangladesh will be an iconic country in the world in field of primary education. Needless to say, to meet the challenge of 21st century and to ensure the Sustainable Development Goal we have to focus on primary education. At the same time, primary education needs sustainable development so that, quality education can be ensured for our future.    

(Md. Arifuzzaman is Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Ullapara, Sirajganj).

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