Mentioning that Bangladesh has made significant progress in adult learning and education even though challenges were vast, an official of the Unesco Institute of Lifelong Learning (UIL) has said further policy development, adequate financing and quality development are necessary to continue along this successful path.
“Only a systematic approach to adult learning and education will lead to successful learning outcomes for all adults. Bangladesh has come a long way and can celebrate major achievements,” said Werner Mauch, Team Leader of Monitoring and Assessment of UIL.He was making comments on a report which spotlighted the literacy rate amongst Bangladesh’s rural and urban populations by gender.
Around 58 percent urban and 40 percent rural males above 60 years of age in Bangladesh are literate while the rate is only 24 percent and 12 percent for females over 60 years of age respectively, according to the Unesco report.
However, the disparity has been addressed in newer generations, with a literacy rate of 80 percent and 74 percent amongst urban and rural boys aged 10-14 while 83 percent urban and 81 percent rural girls from the age group are literate, said the 4th Unesco Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE-4) published on Thursday.
Werner Mauch said Bangladesh currently invests 2–3.9 percent of its education budget into adult learning and education. “To reach all of those who have not benefited from school education, budget increases are necessary.”
Great strides have been made in terms of literacy but more is still to be done, he said, adding that valuable efforts made so far with regard to literacy need to be intensified.
The UIL team leader said the country’s experience in non-formal education without doubt contributed to this development.
He stated that Bangladesh adopted a national education policy, which emphasizes adult education and literacy. “It created a legal base for expansion and implementation of the adult literacy and education programme. And, finally, among other initiatives, a development programme was launched to provide literacy for 30.35 million illiterates, skills development training for 5 million potential new-literates, further opportunities for lifelong learning for new-literates and 64 training academies for skills development in each district.”
Asked what role have community learning centres (CLCs) in Bangladesh played in improving adult learning and education, Werner Mauch said a community learning centre is a local educational institution, usually set up and managed by local people to provide various learning opportunities with the support of the government, NGOs and private sector. Literacy, post-literacy, income generation, life skills programmes and basic education are provided at a CLC.
The Unesco global report found that in Asia, CLCs have come to play an essential role in providing the rural population with appropriate adult learning and education opportunities. Bangladesh has established 5,025 ICT-based CLCs, which has dramatically increased the number of rural learners in literacy, life skills and various vocational programmes. This is a path that should definitely be continued in the future.
He said Unesco works with Bangladesh’s Education Ministry on policy development and with the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics on monitoring development. However, NGOs, adult learning and education practitioners and researchers are also highly valuable cooperation partners. Our vision of education for all adults can only be achieved if we get all relevant partners on board. We very much look forward to strengthening cooperation with Bangladesh in the future.