UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report-2022 was released on 03 January at Dhaka Pan Pacific Hotel Songargaon where education minister, DG-DSHE and DG –NAEM were present. The principal report was presented by the director of GEM Report Manos Antonio and Bangladesh part by Profession Emeritus Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, BRAC IED. The closing speech was delivered by Dr. Hossain Zilluar Raham, Chairperson, BRAC. He also moderated and conducted interactive session. I had the opportunity to join the session and share my experiences and options with other education giants of the country. UNESCO shows that educational expenditure has increased in the South Asian Countries including Bangladesh after the Covid-19 situation. Many families have even to run into debt for managing the educational expenses. Private tuition, buying education materials prove same both in government and private schools that causes a serious burden for many families who have to bear the brunt of money inflation. This has happened basically for managing a big part of education in the private sector. Education in the private sectors prevails more in Bangladesh than any other Asian countries. However, the DG of DSHE wants to redefine the private education as he says MPO is given to the teachers, the school buildings are built by the government, the tuition fee collected from the students are kept in schools to bear other expenses of the teachers. He asks still can we call our schools and teachers non-government or private.
Some participants expressed their opinion that the community participation in primary education has been hindered by nationalizing primary education. The schools and teachers have little or no touch at all with the local community in disseminating education. The result is it has turned into a quality less education contributing to increasing non-government primary schools as they maintain accountability that contributes to quality education. GEM report also releases the fact that pre-primary education in Bangladesh remains in the kindergarten and English medium schools. Even state run primary schools have qualified and trained teachers, one fourth of the children go to non-government primary schools. 94 percent students receive secondary education in non-government sector and in higher education more than one third degree has been offered by private universities. It means that non-government education sector of Bangladesh sees more than government ones. However, education minister has given a statistics to mean whether people like government school or private school. A partial number of secondary schools arranged admission test where we found in the private schools the seats were nine lakh 25 thousand 780 and against those seats two lakh 76 thousand applications were submitted. In the government schools seats were one lakh 7 thousand 907 where five lakh 34 thousand applications were received. It clearly means the guardians and students show more interest in government schools. The Chairperson of BRAC, Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman raised the point that it bears two messages. Number one, the country needs more than five times of government schools than their current status. It also means that students and guardians have less interest in getting enrolled in non-government schools. However, states spend quite a good amount of money to give education children through non-government schools even though they don’t like the system. We have ample scope to give a second thought to whether the existing way of running non-government schools will continue or change. .
Guardians of South East Asia give emphasis on private schools for their wards’ education mainly because of their emphasis on English and token of higher education. So, the number of private educational institutions is increasing day by day. In the secondary level, this trend proves stronger. 94percent students study in the private educational institutions in the secondary level. The educational expenditure in NGO run schools is three times higher than government schools; in the kindergarten it is nine times greater. In the pre-primary level 55 percent students study in the non-government schools. In the primary it is 24 percent and higher education 36 percent. From 2000 to 2010 educational expenditure in rural areas has increased 28-54 percent, in urban areas it is 48-67percent. So, the families have to run into debt to bear the educational expenses of their children. In Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka government has taken the decision to give loan on easy and low interest that we can think of. Students show interest towards technology based education that we need to consider. In Bhutan all the non-government and government educational institutions to be brought under one umbrella as double students study in non-government institutions.
It has been discussed that MPO system stands as a unique example of government and non-government partnership in Bangladesh. How it should be made more meaningful need to be thought over. Private coaching is available in many countries of South East Asia but the situation proves worse in Bangladesh and so the guardians have to spend more for private coaching. Its rate is 67 percent in Bangladesh, in urban areas which is 54 percent in rural areas. In Sri Lanka it is 65 percent in urban and 62 in rural areas. In Pakistan 25 percent students of government schools and 45 percent of non-government schools have to study with private tutors. In Pakistan 57 percent of educational expenditure is borne by the parents which are 71 percent in Bangladesh.
To keep pace with the current trend of the globe and to curb the system of private coaching in Bangladesh, new curriculum has been introduced. It also tends to make teaching learning situation more fun and activity based. Teachers will evaluate the learners mostly in the classroom and summative assessment will see a back seat. However, guardians cannot be sure whether it will help remove the existing private coaching and bring back the quality of education.
The writer is the President, English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh (ETAB). Email: [email protected]