|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
13. POLICY DIRECTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
Assessment suggests that in spite of considerable achievements in terms of increased enrollment (of both boys and girls) in primary education, which is a progress toward EFA goals, a number of inadequacies remain. A lot more can be done to improve quality of education. Reducing the dropout rate continues to be a challenge. Similarly, expanding and sustaining the EFA gains will require extra efforts in terms of community mobilization and external resource mobilization. Improvements will be required in utilization of infrastructure. Particular attention will have to be paid to quality training of teachers and suspensors, supervision and monitoring of activities, building up data collection and data maintenance system, follow-up action, and minimizing bottlenecks in implementation of projects and programmes.
Bangladesh has a large population and each year an ever increasing number of pupils are entering school. Therefore, the country faces problems in improving quality education for a large number of pupils at the primary level. The country runs one of the biggest primary education administrations in the world. The number of teachers in the government and non-government primary schools is about 309,000. Though Bangladesh is a small country, one-third of the country is inaccessible. It has become difficult to monitor, supervise and advise the teachers to bring to the minimum desired level of quality. Resource constraint is also a formidable challenge.
The future direction for the Government of Bangladesh would be based on the premise that education is a prerequisite for ensuring sustainable development and promoting quality human resources. The GOB has to intensify its efforts to guarantee education for all and to sustain the gains once the target is achieved. Its commitment will be fulfilled only with the conditions (i) that no child is deprived of education for lack of teachers, learning materials or adequate space, (ii) that no child is subjected to disparities of access to primary education arising from gender, age, income, family, cultural or ethnic difference and geographic remoteness, (iii) that the quality and relevance of primary education programmes are improved and supplies ensured, and (iv) that all possibilities are acted upon to improve learning contents and materials, to enhance physical facilities and to carry out necessary reforms in the primary education system.
The Government has also to ensure an environment sufficient to encourage the children to attend school regularly and to successfully complete a five-year primary education cycle.
With increased gross enrollments in recent years and underdeveloped institutional capacity, the management of primary education has been unable to effectively bring about significant positive changes in the primary education sub-sector. Responsibility and accountability for actions
The constitution of Bangladesh has laid down that no citizen can be subject to any prohibition, restriction or prejudicial treatment with regard to admission to any educational institution on the ground of sex. The constitution further empowers the State to make special provision in favour of women. The Government has already initiated measures that have reduced the gender gap in primary education. Today the boy-girl ratio in primary school is 52:48. This indicates that Bangladesh has achieved almost gender parity at the primary level of education. Female teachers play a vital role in increasing girl enrollment in the schools. In order to make basic education more effective and ensure higher enrollment and retention of girls in schools female teachers have been recruited in large number. In the eighties the female teachers in primary school were below twenty percent, but in 1998 the proportion has increased to 31 percent. The Government has reserved 60 of the teaching posts for females in primary schools. Women have been in focus of public policy in Bangladesh. Non-formal education sub-sector is no exception. The non-formal education programmes of the country has built in provision that a minimum of fifty percent of its total literacy centres will enroll female learners. The womens education level in the country is steadily increasing due to various promotional steps undertaken by the present Government. One such example is tuition fee exemption for girls attending secondary school. The first population census of 1974 revealed that the adult literacy rate of women was 13.2 percent, but the literacy rate of women in 1998 increased to 48.1 percent.
throughout the sub-sector are often not recognized; institutions and schools have not benefited sufficiently from supervision received; acute shortage of teachers in many schools exists; some teachers are ill-prepared for their task; schools and students lack sufficient learning materials; physical facilities are inadequate for the number of students requiring access to schooling; and instructional time is insufficient. All these shortcomings have to be overcome at a short span of time.
Resource constraints have limited government's ability to deliver primary education to all school age children. There are still many under-served and un-served areas, and specially disadvantaged groups e.g. refugee children, disabled and otherwise hard-to-reach.
The future target is to attain net enrollment of 100 percent when the gross enrollment rate also will equal that level. In other words, the situation of present gross enrollment, which is anomalous, has to be rationalized to the extent that age recording and enrollment at the appropriate school entrance age will be at a level of perfection. It is expected that development in other sectors will take place so that parents have enhanced consciousness to take their children to school at the right age, and birth registration will enable the school authority to have record of exact age of the students.
Proper planning and Implementation of ECCD programme
ECCD is still a weak area in the Government programme. Although the arrangement of "baby class" (pre-primary) has been recognized by the Government in the public school, its necessary that due emphasis is put on designing and implementing an ECCD programme with a systematic approach that will contain the required teachers, teaching-learning materials, supervision and monitoring arrangement and an overall accountability system. The future efforts will have to concentrate in this area.
The government plan to have are primary school in each village, as per necessity, will have to be implement by the year 2002. The contents and quality of education will have to be in conformity with requirement of the time. To sustain high attendance rate and to increase primary completion rats, and also to prevent child labour, Food For Education Programme will be further streamlined and its management rationalized . Supply of textbooks in primary schools free of cost will have to be continued . Madrasah education will have to be modernized in order t keep pace with the time. Programmes on continuing education will have to be designed and implemented for the new literates so that this literacy is sustained and it becomes functional in this practical life. (Speech of the President of the peoples Republic of Bangladesh in the National Parliament on 01 January 2000).
Ensuring Equitable Access to Quality Schooling
There is a number of areas in Bangladesh, which remain under-schooled and unserved. To help ensure that equitable access to quality schooling is available to all children, establishment of new schools and classrooms will be targeted to under-schooled and unserved areas.
(a) New schools will be established in underserved areas meeting the criteria of a no other school within 2 km, and (b) a minimum of 150 students and a minimum population of 2000. Exceptions are to be made where natural barriers or high population density exists. These criteria apply to new government, non-government primary schools and to community and NGO managed feeder and other schools.
(b) Classrooms, furniture, toilets and tubewells will be added to or repaired at government and registered non-government schools and a community based school maintenance programme will be introduced.
(c) A programmed expansion of facilities and hiring of additional teachers and deployment of all teachers will be appropriately targeted to ensure that no segment of the population is marginalized in terms of access to quality primary education.
(d) Registration criteria for non-government primary schools will be adjusted over the next five years to reflect new teacher qualifications, schools' accountability for student and teacher performance and their ability to provide a minimum of five teachers. Registered non-government schools will receive subventions for teacher salaries and supplementary needs.
(e) Targeted programmes will provide resources, materials and incentives to disadvantaged children to enroll in, remain in and complete their primary schooling. The School Attractiveness Programme and female teacher recruitment on the basis of 60:40 will continue to address gender imbalance. The poorest 25 percent of students will receive free stationery. The ongoing Food for Education subsidy aimed at increasing enrollments and attendance of children from the poorest families will continue subject to exploring other alternatives to meet the same educational ends.
Discouraging Child Labour Toward its Elimination
Parental poverty or destitution for any other reason push in children to engagement in labour instead of attending school. This is also a strong reason for early drop out. Attempts will be made to attract the poor / destitute children to school with necessary assistance to such children and discouragement to child labour. Local level school planning will be used as a technical measure in this regard. As a long term plan, school can be made attractive by offering opportunities for earning while continuing education in school. Social mobilization and advocacy will be strengthened against child labour and in favour of schooling for all.
Management and Organization of Primary Education
Government will improve the delivery of quality primary schooling in both government and non-government schools and will focus on the development of a sustainable, cost effective and better managed school system.
(b) Pragmatic planning and intensive monitoring will ensure relevance, quality and excellence in primary education. Annual review of the programmes and project will focus on achievements, expenditures and performance targets. Standardized financial and accounting procedures will improve financial management and accountability.
(c) The management and administration of primary education will be enhanced by developing and institutionalizing local and national management information and monitoring systems. The Directorate of Primary Education will be strengthened along with delegation of decision making authority to the field offices, as necessary Districts, Thanas and Schools will be given more decision making responsibility for planning, budgeting and implementation to make the most effective use of human, financial and physical resources. Capacities of School Management Committees and local CPE Ward and Union committees will be strengthened through training programmes and management of block grants to schools for materials.
(d) Efficiency: Primary education will be made more efficient by rationalizing operations to reduce overlap in functional units and through programs of staff development and training. The system will be more cost effective as a result of a number of these measures : (i) improved teaching and better use of learning time will reduce grade repetition to the minimum by 2001 ; (ii) the existing policy on reuse of textbooks will be expanded gradually so that by 1999 reuse of 50% of textbooks and a three year book life span is possible ; (iii) educational publishing will be reviewed to ensure quality, durability and cost efficiency of books and materials ; (iv) to reduce the stress on the primary education system, baby class programs will be independent of the formal school program, and will be strengthened as ECCD programme to be managed separately by School Management Committees, other community groups or NGOs.
Bangladesh has achieved commendable success in non-formal education. Four (4) Districts and 21 Thanas have been declared illiterate free. The NFE programmes are implemented through three delivery modes : (a) Center based NGO programmes, (b) District or Thana based Total Literacy Movement (TLM), and (c) Centers run by philanthropists or voluntary organizations, with supports from DNFE.
The novelty of non-formal education programme in Bangladesh is that it is implemented through NGOs, CBOs, PVOs or local administration. The Directorate itself does not implement any programme; it only coordinates or facilitates the activities of the implementing organizations. The implementing organizations are selected through open advertisement in the national dailies and based on specific selection criteria. The officers of the Directorate and District Coordinators monitor their performances. The progress and problems are discussed in open fora organized every month with representatives of the NGOs, CBOs and PVOs. One of them works as the co-chairperson of the meeting.
Best possible achievement will need selection of best performing NGOs to work in partnership with the Government. Adequate care will have to be given in this regard. Apart from partnership with the Government, a big number of NGOs run non-formal basic education program, which is a contribution to EFA goals. It is important that a good link is established between such non-formal basic education and primary education, between such independent NGOs and the Government. Some standard has to be established for the basic education through collaborative efforts of the NGOs and the Government. The standard will be used to determine the equivalence or link of non-formal basic education in the formal education stream. A greater degree of community mobilization will be possible to supplement the government efforts, which have limits in the face of increased population of children requiring access to education.
It is understood that time is not too far away when the country will be free from illiteracy. Therefore a model programme for post literacy and continuing education shall have to be developed soon. Illiterate-free Districts and Thanas have been asking for such model. In future strong post literacy and continuing education programme will have to be implemented along with removal of illiteracy the standard of education. Attention will also be given toward more rapid reduction of gender disparity among the adults.
Increasing public Expenditure in Education
Absolute increase in public expenditure in the past years has been notable. However, the limit in progress is to be attributed to, among others, the lack of increase in per pupil expenditure as percent of GDP per capita. It will be a significant step forward to increase per pupil expenditure for the promotion of basic and continuing education, which is necessary for the development of human resource of the country. Such a policy decision is a demand of the time.