Inadequate budget for education is not being helpful

05 January 2023

Though schools, government as well as the media call the free textbooks distribution across the country in the beginning of the new academic year as a 'festival', behind this façade the deplorable fact is Bangladesh spends less than 2.5 percent of its GDP on education. Here poor families which are many fail to send their children to school, be it in urban or rural areas.
The fanfare in the beginning of the year centering free textbooks fails to hide the truth that families in Bangladesh bear 71 per cent of total education as has been revealed in a new UNESCO report produced in association with BRAC and released on Tuesday in the capital.
There are myriads of complaints against the education system in Bangladesh such as education's poor quality and poor budget allocation, corruption, and irregularities. Still, another worrying fact is that the non-state actors are more involved in every aspect of the education system in Bangladesh than in any other regions of the world. This has shot up the cost of education.
Added to this is the fallout of Covid-19 pandemic for which cost of tuition, private tuition and stationeries has risen, leading many families to run into debt for bearing education spending. No, making the teaching profession attractive cannot be the answer to the problems plaguing education in Bangladesh as has been pointed out by the education minister who was present at Tuesday's programme when the UNESCO report was released.
This kind of amateurish talk will not help the country's education when the real problems lie in poor planning, substandard syllabus making, inadequate budget allocation, corruption, mismanagement and irregularities. Bangladesh has an education policy framed in 2010 which remains fine on paper but not in reality.
But the government must increase fund allocation for education and gradually move to eliminate the monthly pay order system which is not equity focused and failing to promote quality. Nationalisation of MPO educational institutions will certainly create a positive impact on enhancing the quality of education. Moreover, the government needs to set quality standards that apply to all institutions and improve state capacity.

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