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Problems with our education sector of Bangladesh

ACCORDING to Article 17 of our Constitution, all the children of Bangladesh are supposed to receive full free education up to secondary level. education sector of Bangladesh are not good.But in reality, it is not so, especially for children from poorer households in rural areas. Recent survey done by BRAC reveals that poor parents have to pay bribe at every step of their child’s schooling. Such corrupt practice of extorting money from poor parents prevails among about half of the government schools in the country.

Bangladesh has one of the largest primary education systems in the world, according to the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE). There are a total of 37,672 government primary schools in the country with an estimated 10.7 million primary school aged children (6 to10 years). DPE figures also show that at present, a total of 6,300 primary schools around the country do not have a headmaster. The minimum international standard for teacher- student ratio is 30: 1 but in Bangladesh there is one teacher for every 53 students.

Lack of qualified teachers and poor school facilities in terms of the number of schools, classrooms, libraries and playgrounds are responsible for poor quality education at primary schools. A recent DPE internal report shows that around 70 percent of children are unable to read or write properly, or perform basic mathematical calculations even after five years at primary school. The World Bank in their report titled “Bangladesh Education Sector Review” published in March also said the same. It also observed that the most common teaching method at secondary classes in the country is lecturing and reading textbooks and when it comes to interaction, teachers only ask closed ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions to check whether the students have memorized the textbook information or not. Most teachers feel uncomfortable in adopting innovative educational approaches as they fear that using other approaches may result in poor performances in examinations. As a result, though the pass rates in public examinations are getting higher, a huge number of students are failing to master the desired competencies due to a flawed teaching system.

Our secondary and higher secondary curriculum doesn’t reflect market demand or job-oriented syllabuses. In 2013, a total of 10, 02,496 students participated in H.S.C Exam from different boards and among them 744,891 students came out successful. After SSC and HSC, research shows that 35 to 40 percent of the students in our country have no scope of enrolling themselves to colleges or public universities.

Bangladesh has certainly made remarkable progress in expanding the primary education especially raising enrollment of the students and bringing gender parity. But our education system is not yet pro-poor and the quality and curriculum do not effectively serve the goals of human development and poverty eradication. Our traditional primary, secondary and higher secondary studies are not producing quality or skilled persons to climb the ladder of poverty.

We need to unify the various types of education systems that exist in our country. We must create a level playing field where every student will get the same and proper opportunity. Discrimination in every stage of education must be removed or else mental separation will be established from the very beginning of their educational life, which can be very dangerous for a nation.

Bangladesh spends less than 3 percent of its GDP on the education sector. In our national budget for the year 2013, the education sector got the third largest allocation amounting to Tk.25, 114 crore of which Tk. 11,935.37 crore was set for the primary and mass education, and Tk.13, 179.23 crore for the education ministry. The budgetary allocation for education in our country is not adequate compared with those of other South Asian and developing countries that put education at the top of the policy agenda. More investment should be made to upgrade the infrastructure facilities. Teacher training must also be emphasized, with age-old methods of delivering only lectures replaced by classroom interaction. At all levels, teachers should be appointed based on merit and experience, and not on political consideration.

Every year around 1.8 million people are adding to our existing workforce and the youth labour force will nearly reach 30 million by 2015. As the forces of globalization become stronger, the need for education and human capital investment is likely to rise even further. Indeed, it is not just education per se but the quality of education that is paramount if one is to get ahead in this competitive world. Keeping in mind the demand of our economy and the changing global economy we have to develop a linkage between our education sector and the job market. We need to include vocational courses, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based education from junior levels (class 6) to higher secondary (class12).

Education is a major driving force of development in any modern society. Economists have – for a very long time – stressed that education has a significant role to play in poverty reduction in various ways. A positive link between an income based poverty concept and education can be found in the process of economic growth. Bangladesh is moving towards industrialization. The number of people living below the poverty line is also decreasing. It is expected that in the next decade Bangladesh is likely to achieve the status of a middle-income country. A lot of industries will need skilled human resources. Indeed, a shortage of technically skilled human resources will be a major impediment to economic development of the country. Currently, our economy is driven by three major sectors- agriculture, remittances and export. If we can feed these education sector of Bangladesh and skilled workforce it will reshape our economy and alleviate poverty.

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