Published:  12:46 AM, 11 January 2019

It's education, gentlemen!

Notwithstanding that all of us, including the government, acknowledge that only a purposeful and adequate investment in the education sector can usher in sustainable development for our country, the annual budgetary allocation for the sector is lamentable. Experts have opined that the present deteriorating state of education in the country is a result of a lack of investment made in the sector over the past decades.

Research by the international research institute Copenhagen Consensus Centre shows that researchers have observed that investment in education gives the highest return, which is as high as nineteen times of the investment. Therefore we feel, keeping this high return of investment in education prospect in mind, Bangladesh will have to invest far more than it does today for education.

We have constantly been focusing on the point that although Bangladesh has achieved tremendous success in various indicators i.e. primary school enrolment, graduate enrolment, passing rates in all public examinations etcetera, all these are quantitative improvements.

There are always questions with regard to the qualitative improvement of education. In this connection, we can mention another report not long ago that was prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which notes that the standard of education in Bangladesh has not improved over the last decade or so.

The report has rightly pointed out education in the universities of Bangladesh is failing to produce graduates compatible with the job market demand. It says there is a huge gap between the graduates' educational qualifications and market demand and so they are not able to get good jobs.

At the same time, graduate unemployment is also getting bigger. The statistics that 47 per cent of the country's graduates are unemployed is really alarming.  Besides quality questions, there are some other major challenges to the country's education system, like high dropout rates at the secondary level, flawed system of student evaluation, high teacher-student ratio, lack of accountability for the teachers and so forth, as observed by eminent academics in the country.  

Against the UNESCO stipulation that the budgetary allotment for education should comprise at least 20 per cent of the total budget and 6 per cent of the GDP, our total allocation for the sector is merely 10 per cent of the budget and about 2 per cent of the GDP. This is really a cause for major concern for a country like Bangladesh that aspires to become a developed one within 25 years from now.

It is our belief that in this 21st century world that is moving towards a knowledge-based society, the countries most skilled and innovative are likely to take the lead. And it is only an education system befitting the present world that can produce such skilled and innovative human resources.

This is why, for Bangladesh to attain the anticipated goal, we feel a strong need for increased investment in this sector. We also feel the private sector needs to play a more pro-active role alongside the government in this respect.

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