Education is a nation’s backbone. After assuming responsibility in 2009, pursuant to their manifesto, the Awami League government formulated the National Education Policy, designed to act as the principal means of realizing its Vision 2021.
Under the aegis of the current establishment, Bangladesh has made significant progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 (Achieving Universal Primary Education). If past performance is any indicator, it is widely held that the current government will also be able to achieve the remaining targets in this regard.
According to the current government’s Vision 2021, the goals regarding education include: a) Achieving 100% net enrollment at primary education level soonest from 2010/11; b) Achieving 100% literacy rate soonest after 2014; c) Move towards free degree level education. The government has already achieved substantially targets (a) and (b) and working towards (c). The government has set itself the target of Education for All (EFA) by 2015. However, currently they are striving to ensure that the goal is reached by 2014. To that end, the current government has initiated and implemented a number of steps:
Formulating National Education Policy
The National Education Policy was formulated after consultation with various educational experts and stakeholders, which is currently being implemented in phases. The Policy envisages education which helps build a poverty free, secular, progressive and democratic society in the long term. It envisages developing children into educated, productive and skilled workforce as well as instill in them national cultures, traditions and moral values.
The NEP gives utmost significance to pre-primary education. All 5 year old children are being brought under this scheme, with the plans to extend the plan to include 4 year olds too. The NEP advises the government to start pre primary education in all schools. The NEP asks for more teachers to be recruited and increasing the number of classrooms. These are to be implemented in phases. It also emphasizes on the study of arts and literature.
Developing educational infrastructure is crucial for ensuring congenial learning environment, incentivizing children to enroll and prevent dropouts. To that end, the current government has adopted a number of steps for building and/or maintaining key infrastructure related to the education sector, namely:
a) Rebuilding, and providing furniture to, 3.447 public primary schools under Government Primary Schools Rebuilding and Reform (2nd Phase) Project;
b) Rebuilding 213 registered private primary schools and extending 1,292 registered private primary schools under Registered Private Primary Schools Development Project at a cost of over TK 10 billion;
c) Rebuilding 258 schools damaged or destroyed by floods of 2007 and river erosion at a cost of TK 580 million;
d) Under Primary Education Development Project 2: Building 40,870 additional classrooms; building 398 primary schools cum cyclone shelters; constructing 23,202 toilets; digging and setting up 17,275 deep tube wells; repairing 7,103 primary schools; extending operations of Primary School Offices in 58 districts; Building/extending education offices in 456 Upazilas; building 397 Upazila Resource Centers; extending 53 PTI and NEP buildings; building 10 hostels in Chittagong hill tracts.
e) Project has been undertaken to rebuild 2000 schools;
f) In order to extend opportunities for education, project has been undertaken to construct 1500 schools in those areas which do not currently have any schools. Till date, locations have been identified and building work commenced in 700 primary schools;
g) In order to train able and skilled teachers, 12 PTIs have been set up in 12 districts which lacked such facilities previously;
h) In order to ensure education of indigenous people, 10 schools have been built with hostel facilities in remote mountainous areas;
i) Under Primary Education Development Programme 3: Building 31,685 classrooms to reduce the teacher: student ratio from 1:56 to 1:40; Rebuilding 2,709 schools, buildings of which were classified as risky; building 1,28,955 toilets; setting up 39,300 tube wells for ensuring supply of fresh drinking water; building 53,250 toilets for female students and teachers and 21,955 toilets and 53,750 urinals for male students and teachers; repairing 11,600 classrooms; repairing divisional, district and Upazila primary education office and resource centers; building 14 URC buildings; building a leadership training center in Cox’s Bazar; and building a new building for Directorate of Primary Education’s Head Office.
Distribution of Free Textbooks
After assuming power, the current government has been distributing free textbooks to all students from Class 1 to Class 9 from 2009-10 session in order to create opportunity of education for all notwithstanding their economic conditions and to prevent the number of drop outs. From 2010 to 2013, nearly 130 million students have distributed with 9.2 million textbooks. Free textbooks are distributed every year to 100% enrolled students in primary schools around the country. From 2013, utmost care is being taken to ensure that these textbooks are received by the students before the commencement of each school year. In the beginning of the 2014 academic year, more than 23.3 million primary school goers received 115.9 million textbooks. In order to make sure that students are attracted by the books, they have been published in four coloured versions as opposed to previous black and white versions only.
Incentives for Teachers
Immediately after assuming responsibility, the current government brought 1624 private schools under the provisions of Monthly Payment Order (MPO). This has resulted in financial security for many faculty and staff members of these private institutions which in turn benefited large number of students. Additionally, faculty and staff members of all private educational institutions have been allotted with TK 300 medical allowance, TK 500 house rent allowance and for government approved faith schools (Madrassas), the previously allotted TK 50 allowance has been raised to TK 100.
Abolishing Corporal Punishment
Corporal punishment by teachers on students has been a longstanding aspect of educational culture in this part of the world. However, in order to ensure that students can study in an intimidation free education-congenial environment, a policy has been formulated by the Ministry of Education to outlaw corporal punishment of any kind administered by faculty and staff members upon students. It is hoped that this will encourage to students to study and attend schools without fear of intimidation, prevent drop outs and contribute towards building a skilled workforce.
Making Dynamic Websites
National Curriculum and Textbooks Board (NCTB)’s website has been made more dynamic. All primary and secondary textbooks can be downloaded in their e-book formats from this platform.
Delivering Lessons through Broadcast
In order to improve the quality of education in all schools of the country, and as part of a holistic teaching approach, since 14th June 2011, educational lessons on English, Mathematics and Science of the best performing public schools are being broadcast in the national television channel, Bangladesh Television (BTV). Currently, the frequency of the broadcast is three mornings a week for one hour.
School Feeding Project
In order to ensure their enrichment and also to prevent school goers from dropping out, a project is being implemented whereby 2.9 million primary school students of 96 poverty stricken Upazilas are provided with 75 grams of nutritious biscuits per school day. Already, this has benefited 2.8 million students of 82 Upazilas. The programme would soon be extended to the rest of the Upazilas.
Primary Education at a Glance
- In order to ensure 100% literacy rate, 99.47% of all eligible students of primary education to be enrolled and admitted;
- In accordance with the poverty road map, giving scholarships and stipends to 90% students of 67 Upazilas; 75% students of 122 Upazilas; 50% students of 154 Upazilas; 45% students of 154 Upazilas;
- Raising the number of scholarships and stipends from 4.8 million to more than 7.8 million;
- Establishing 7,561 schools in poverty stricken and indigenous population rich 90 Upazilas at a cost of TK 6.84 billion which has benefited 7.5 million poor and drop out children in acquiring primary education
- Introducing lottery system for admission into Class 1 of schools in cities
- Introducing pre-primary education for encouraging young children to take up education in their formative stage;
- Admitting more than 18 million children into pre-primary education;
- Taking up project in 2013 to introduce pre-primary education in all schools;
- Special project to incentivize school drop outs benefiting 70,000 children;
- Providing nutritious biscuits to 2.8 million children of 96 poverty stricken Upazilas and distributing mid-day meals at 283 schools on local initiation;
- 3,447 public primary schools rebuilt at a cost of TK 1 billion and 30 million. 213 registered private schools rebuilt and 1,292 such schools extended at a cost of TK 410 million. Furniture supplied to 9,476 schools;
- Rebuilding 258 primary schools devastated by river erosion at a cost of TK 580 million. Building 398 primary schools cum cyclone shelters;
- Rebuilding 72,555 primary schools, installing 1,52157 toilets, installing 46,575 tube wells, repairing 18,703 schools.
- Installing internet at 1,109 offices connected to primary education;
- Designing and distributing 58 types of teachers’ guides for Classes 1 to 5 segmented
- Recruitment of 82,725 teachers at primary schools. Forming panel of 42,611 teachers by arranging central examination for recruitment. Project to recruit 20,000 para-teachers. Positions created for 45,000 primary teachers.
Five –Year Cycle Completion and Drop out Rate
|Year||Completion Rate (%)||Drop out Rate (5%)|
Achievements of 5 Years in Primary Education (2009-2013), Ministry of Primary and Mass Education.