Education is the foundation of development while quality education is the bedrock of sustainable development. It assists a man to be a complete human being by instilling some virtuous qualities and values. The idea of quality education came to light when the existing education system could not effectively respond to the needs of time. Quality education helps face the realities of life applying the things that the learners learn throughout their academic life. In order to ascertain quality education, teachers’ quality and congenial teaching environment should be guaranteed. In addition, students should be provided with basic needs by fulfilling fundamental rights from the early childhood so that they can gather knowledge enthusiastically. The government of Bangladesh, therefore, attempts to surmount the prevailing obstacles existing to education system especially at the primary level in order to ensure good quality in education.
Both the terms “quality” and “education” need to be explained in order to define the phrase ‘quality education’. The term ‘education’, according to Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, is “a process of teaching, training, and learning, especially in schools or colleges, to improve knowledge and develop skills”. The same dictionary contained the meaning of quality as “the standard of something when it is compared to other things like it; how good or bad something is”. Therefore, the quality education denotes a set of skills that are necessary in our individual, social and academic life where academic attainment is only a part (of that set of skills). Quality education requires to explain some questions as to how well pupils are taught and how much they learn, how regularly they attend and how long they stay in school and whether parents send their children to school at all.In this regard, the UNICEF (2000) provides the following features of quality education that can be used to measure the quality in education of any country including Bangladesh. For example: (i) Quality Learners - many elements go into making a quality learner, including health, home support and early childhood experiences. (ii) Quality Learning Environments - learning environments are made up of psychosocial, physical and service delivery elements. (iii) Quality Content - quality content refers to the planned and taught curriculum of schools. (v) Quality Processes - processes through which trained teachers use child-centred teaching approaches in well-managed classrooms and schools and skilful assessment in order to facilitate learning and reduce disparities. (vi) Quality Outcomes - outcomes that encompass skill, knowledge, and attitudes, and are linked to national goals for education and positive participation in society. We can use all these features to assess how far Bangladesh achieved quality in education surmounting the existing obstacles to education in the primary level.
Despite remarkable progress in enhancing access and equity in education, Bangladesh faces significant challenges, with notable achievements in near-universal access to primary education; achieving gender equity at the primary and secondary education levels; noticeable reduction in dropout rates; and obtaining reasonably high levels of completion in primary education. Different estimates suggest the increasing trend of literacy rate at primary level, for example, CRI  estimates that the net enrolment at primary level was 87percent in 2005 that increased to approximately 100 percent in 2017. Primary education cycle completion rate was 82 percent in 2015 that improved to 95 percent in 2017. The literacy rate for men and women aged between 15 to 24 years was 61.87 percent in 2007 which reached 92.14 percent in 2016. The improvement of quality education at primary level can be measured by the success of primary education completion rate as estimated as 95.18 percent in in 2017.
In order to ascertain delivery of quality education, the government accelerates its efforts to uphold curriculum and contents, strengthens school monitoring and supervision mechanism. Quality education demands the high quality of teachers. The government, therefore, lays special emphasis on teachers’ education and training because teachers are the professionals who facilitate directly students’ learning. Intensive teacher-training programs are in operation both at primary and secondary education in Bangladesh. At the primary level, around 83 percent and at the secondary level almost 73 percent teachers are now trained. Since 2009, almost 130,100 teachers were recruited at primary schools. All these attempts taken by the government resulted to the improvement of quality education at primary level.
In the recent past, with the intention of improving the quality of education the Ministry of Education [MoE] and the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME) launched several program/projects i.e. Primary Education Development Program 3[PEDP3] followed by PEDP 1 & 2, Teaching Quality Improvement [TQI-II] which specifically focused on quality improvement and learning outcome. In the academic year 2018, the government distributed 35.42 million textbooks free of cost among the secondary and primary level students in order to relieve the burden of expenditure of poor students. The textbooks were distributed among pre-primary, primary, and secondary students. Books were also distributed among the students of dakhil, and ibtedayi as well as vocational students. Aiming at ameliorating and modernizing of madrasa education, the government has introduced timely changes in the Madrasa curriculum, syllabuses, course outline and included textbook on modern subjects so that students can be developed as competent human resource in order to utilize education in response to needs of time. In order to check dropout rate in madrasa education, the government has started providing scholarships for meritorious students.
In fine, over the past decade, Bangladesh has magnificently expanded access to all the levels of education; gender equity was attained at the primary and secondary level well ahead of the Millennium Developmental Goal [MDG] target for 2015 and overall the country has experienced positive social and economic spillovers. There is scope to improve equitable, skill and quality attainment at all levels. The government should emphasize early childhood development, especially at urban slums and remote areas. Different estimates suggest, in urban slums and hard-to-reach areas, more than 1 in 4 school-age children (26.8 per cent) are out of school. Special care should be taken in family life from the very beginning of childhood with a view to instilling moral and values in children so that children can be enriched with the highest moral and ethical values, namely truthfulness, kindness, trustworthiness, generosity, forgiveness, respect and politeness to be complete human beings.
The writer is a teacher and member of GRIPS Alumni Association.