Educationists have asked the government to ensure proper implementation of the proposed budget for the education sector by identifying the priority areas.
The implementation should be judicious and transparent; otherwise, a large portion of the budget will go into the pockets of a section of dishonest officials, they said.The prominent educationists, however, said the budgetary allocation for the education sector was not sufficient. “But the government should use the allocation efficiently.”
After the government had formulated the National Education Policy in 2009, educationists started advocating for spending at least six per cent of the GDP for education.
But ten years down the line, the budgetary allocation for this sector remains almost unchanged, leaving little scope for investment on quality education, experts said.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Thursday proposed Tk 61,118 crore—about 2 per cent of the GDP—for the education sector in the fiscal year 2019-20.
The allocation for the education sector saw a slight increase to become 11.68 per cent of the total budget outlay, up from 11.4 per cent in the outgoing financial year.
The budget proposed Tk 61,118 crore for the primary and mass education ministry, Secondary and Higher Education Division, and Technical and Madrasah Education Division together, for which the allocation was 53,054 crore in the outgoing fiscal.Kamal proposed Tk 24,041 crore, or 4.59 per cent of the total outlay, for the ministry of primary and mass education, Tk 29,624 crore, or 5.66 per cent, for the Secondary and Higher Education Division and Tk 7,453 crore, or 1.42 per cent, for the Technical and Madrasah Education Division.
Experts said despite growth in the national budget, the share of the education sector in the total outlay has been decreasing over the last few years.
In fact, the percentage of total allocation does not match the figure ten years ago. In the revised budget of 2010-11, the figure was 14.3 per cent. It was 11.4 per cent of the total outlay in the outgoing fiscal year.
As the size of the national budget increased every year, the allocation for education rose too. However, education’s share in the GDP and in the total spending declined over the years.
Talking to the Daily Sun, eminent educationist Syed Manzoorul Islam said, “The budget allocation is not keeping up with the expansion of the education sector.”
“At least six per cent of GDP and 25 per cent of the total budget needs to be allocated for education; otherwise the key goals of education cannot be achieved.”
He also said, “Major portions of budget allocation are eaten up by a section of corrupt officials, so the implementation of the budget will have to be efficient, productive and corruption-free.”
He said the teaching profession will have to be made more attractive by increasing salaries and other facilities.
The educationist also said the country needs to have a stronger political commitment and appropriate strategies to improve the education sector, combined with adequate resource allocation and its judicious and transparent utilisation.
The government should consider the allocation for education as an investment in human capacity to use the youths, he added.
Prof Mohammad Kaykobad of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology said the allocation of 11.68 per cent of the budget for the education sector was highly insufficient.
“It should be at least 20 per cent of the total allocation.”
“The education budget stood at merely about two per cent of the GDP, which was very insignificant while it should be six per cent of the GDP. However, we should use the budget allocations efficiently and productively,” he added.
Former director of the Institute of Education and Research of Dhaka University Prof Siddiqur Rahman said the increase in education budget did not increase in proportion with the total budget.
Bangladesh has committed itself to spending at least 6 per cent of its GDP or 20 per cent of the national budget on education in the Dakar declaration signed in Senegal in April 2000.
But both the shares of GDP and total budget also remain below standards set by the 7FYP and Education 2030 Framework for Action of the UNESCO.
The 7FYP targeted to spend 2.84 per cent of total GDP on education, while UNESCO’S Education 2030 Framework for Action recommended spending at least 4-6 per cent of the GDP.