Published:  03:14 AM, 20 May 2017

For adequate primary schooling

The Primary and Mass Education Minister has said the government has undertaken a project to set up 1,500 more primary schools in rural areas where there is not one yet. The project has been started to ensure primary education for all. Already 1,324 primary schools under the project have been established. An adequate number of schools, availability of the required number of skilled and qualified teachers are important for imparting quality education at the primary level. According to official information at present 22 million children are studying at 63,601 government primary schools accommodating about 350 students per school having 5 teachers each on an average. Many more children are enrolled in private schools. National learning assessments conducted by the government show poor literacy and numeracy skills among students--only 25 percent to 44 percent of the students in grades 5 through 8 have mastery over Bangla, English and Math, and performance on these measures is especially low among poor students.

Students repeating grades and dropout rates are still high in Bangladesh, and only 50 percent of the students who enroll in first grade reach grade 10. Available information shows around five million Bangladeshi children between the ages of six and 13 - mostly from poor families, urban slums, and hard-to-reach areas - remain out of school. The government spending on education as a share of the gross domestic product is around 2 percent, the second lowest in South Asia and lower than in most other countries at similar levels of development. Budgetary allocation for education should be increased. Bangladesh has become a role model in attaining the Millennium Development Goal in respect of education.

Pragmatic steps by the government have ensured remarkable gains over the past two decades by ensuring access to education, especially at the primary level and for girls. Bangladesh's net enrollment rate at the primary school level has increased from 80 percent in 2000 to 98 percent in 2015. Furthermore, the percentage of children completing primary school is close to 80 percent, and Bangladesh has also achieved gender parity in access, in addition to dramatic decreases in disparities between the highest and lowest consumption quintiles at both primary and secondary levels. Despite these, however, a number of challenges remain ahead, which might frustrate the attempts of the government if not resolved. As stated above, still there is a need for good primary schools not only to ensure institutional education to those children who remain deprived of this opportunity, but also to ensure that the quality of institutions is up to required standard. The setting up of 1500 new schools is a good step to this direction.

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