Introduction : As a newly independent (1971) country Bangladesh is struggling with huge population, low per capita income, mass poverty, unemployment and underemployment, illiteracy, child labor, malnutrition, corruption, and related social problems. The economy of the country is poor and based on the rural agricultural sector, but natural disasters – mainly floods, affects the economy annually which delays economic progress. Rural-urban disparity in terms of per capita income, consumption, education, health facilities, and physical infrastructure is an important developmental issue in Bangladesh.
The Government of Bangladesh and a significant number of non-government organizations (NGOs) are working to improve the socioeconomic conditions through a variety of programs.
Education is one of the key elements of human asset. It is also one of the principal sources of increased economic growth, development and enhanced welfare of an individual and a household in the process of economic transformation. Increased labour productivity, effective use of land and other physical assets, and improved socio-economic empowerment are three important routes through which education can contribute to economic development.
On the other hand, education can also lessen the burden of poverty ? one estimate for Bangladesh reveals that households without any formal education have about six time higher poverty incidence than those who have access to education. Because of all this, educational attainment is considered to be the most important indicator of development. Right to education is a fundamental human right. However, the importance of primary education cannot be overstated because it creates the literacy base of a nation (Rahman et al, 2003).
Therefore in most developed countries primary education is considered to be more important than higher education.
In all the least developed countries including Bangladesh, it is also considered to be an important element of social progress and economic development. Primary education has been made universal and compulsory, and there is a large-scale national campaign for enrolling all school-aged children at primary educational institutions. THE PRESENT SCENARIO OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN BANGLADESH:
GENERAL EDUCATION Formal education in Bangladesh is provided in four stages: pre-primary or early childhood education; primary (grade I-V), secondary education (grade VI –XII of which first three grades are considered junior or lower secondary, grade IX-X as secondary, and grade XI-XII as higher secondary); and tertiary education which includes two-year bachelor’s courses, along with three and four-year bachelor’s honors courses and one-year master’s degree courses.
A parallel system of formal religious education exists for Muslim students, and this is known as Madrassa education. For Madrassa education, Ebtedayee, Dakhil, Alim, Fazil and Kamil are the equivalent to primary, secondary, higher secondary, bachelor’s and master’s respectively. PRIMARY EDUCATION After independence, under an Act of the Parliament all primary schools in Bangladesh were nationalized in 1973 with a view to improving quality of education (Jalaluddin and Chowdhury, 1996). In 1990 the Compulsory Primary Education Act was passed.
Primary education in Bangladesh is characterized by i) Substantial progress made in increasing enrollment during the 80s and early 90s, ii) Large number of children from very poor backgrounds and from illiterate families who are now attending school, and iii) Diverse types of schools serving children who have diverse needs including working children (The World Bank, 2000). Primary education level is from years 1 to 5,(starting at age 6) and the primary curriculum is competency-based and was developed by the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB).
The Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) implements the curriculum and manages the primary education system. There is no nationwide examination at the end of the fifth year. However, government education boards conduct a scholarship examination at the end of year 5. There are 11 types of primary schools: government, non-government registered, non-government unregistered, schools attached to high schools, PTI’s experimental schools, Ebtedayee Madrassas (independent), Ebtedayee attached to high madrassas, kindergarten, satellite schools, community schools, and non-formal schools run by NGOs.
Presently about two-thirds of students are enrolled in government schools. Over 65% of primary schools are government schools; the rest being registered non-governmental schools – assisted by the government. There also are some private schools – much fewer, in number – that cater to the social elite. Many secondary schools also have primary school sections. The following TABLE shows the percentage of children attending different types of primary schools in Bangladesh. Percentage of children attending different types of primary schools:
|Type of primary school |% of total enrollment | |Government |59-66 | |Registered non-government |18-21 | |Non-registered non-government |2 | |Community schools |very small percentage | |Satellite schools |very small percentage | |Primary attached to high schools |very small percentage | |NGO’s non-formal primary schools |8 | |Ebtedayee madrassas |2 | [Source: Jalaluddin and Chowdhury (1996)] ? Government Primary Education For the formal system, primary education is five years in length, starting at age 6.
In government schools, teacher-student ratio varies greatly among schools, with the average of 1:66. In some cases, teachers may have as many as 100 students in a classroom. In government primary schools, the curriculum is based on 53 terminal competencies to be achieved by the end of primary cycle. Five subject areas are covered, i. e. , Bangla, Mathematics, Science and Environment, Social Studies, and English. Statistics show that in 1996 percentage of female teachers in government schools was 28%, which has gradually increased from 20. 6% in 1990.
The government has plans to raise the ratio of female teachers in government schools (Chowdhury, 1999). On average, government school teachers have about 12 years of schooling. Training is provided by the government. The government has large training facilities. ? Non-Formal Education Non-formal education is an innovation aimed to reach the poorest children who did not have a chance to attend formal school, and has many characteristics that differ from formal education in order to suit the needs of the rural poor. In Bangladesh, NGOs play an important role in the provision of non-formal education.
The largest NGO working in the field of education in Bangladesh is the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC). When BRAC started non-formal primary education in 1985, the main objective was to provide basic education to the children who did not have an opportunity to attend formal schools. BRAC developed a model of primary education programme that has today become highly successful. Out of 1. 4 million children currently receiving non-formal education, 1. 2 million are in BRAC schools. Over 90% of BRAC school teachers are women. BRAC school teachers on average have 10 years of schooling.
The teachers are hired on a temporary, part-time basis. As one education specialist at the World Bank Dhaka office comments, “Teachers in non-formal schools really teach, and children like to go to school because it is fun. ” ? Madrassa Education Madrassas are the social sites for the reproduction of Islamic orthodoxy. In most of the madrassas there are no formal admission procedures, and academic schedules are often flexible. This education is divided into five distinct levels—ibtedai (elementary), dakhil (secondary), alim (higher secondary), fazil (B.A. ), and kamil (M. A. ).
These madrassas teach all the required modern subjects such as English, Bangla, science, social studies, math, geography, history, etc. These Alia madrassas are registered with, and supervised by, the government-appointed Bangladesh Madrassa Education Board, which also prescribes the curriculum and syllabi and conducts examinations. In recent years Madrassa education has gone through some modernization and to make the system more closely equivalent to the Bangladesh general education system.
Nearly 3 million students are currently enrolled in Madrassa education. At any rate, the important thing to note here is: a) the significant contribution of ibtedai madrassas in providing elementary education in areas where no government primary schools are available; and b) that these ibtedai madrassas are now acting as feeder institutions for both the Alia and Quomi madrassas. The social significance of the madrassa education lies not only in the fact that it imparts religious education to a large number of students, but that it also ensures access to employment.
It has been observed that while there has been considerable unemployment among the youth educated at secular schools and colleges, the graduates of madrassas have rarely faced such problems and usually find jobs commensurate with their training. ? Community School Community Schools provide effective linkages between the structures of formal and non-formal education and make both mutually reinforcing. While the community schools provide formal education to its students, its physical and human resources, are being utilized with appropriate supplement to provide a range of programmes of non-formal education and training for adult.
It also provides job opportunities to secondary school drop-outs and their parents. Community Learning Centre (CLC) is used to create a learning situation for the whole community in which the children are the main beneficiary. The idea is to make parents regard education of their children as a part of total community activity. The most important component of the CLC is to educate the parents various aspects of life and environment including functional literacy and numeracy keeping in view the requirement of childhood education. STEPS TAKEN: ?
Bangladesh has achieved gender equity in primary enrollment. The increase in girls’ enrollment rate in recent years is believed to have been brought about by a number of ‘positive discriminatory’ actions taken by the state and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in favor of girls and poor children in rural areas. ? Following education for all (EFA), the government of Bangladesh made primary education compulsory for all children between the ages of six and 10.
This had a major impact on the system, and the gross enrollment rate increased since from 75% to 95% by 1996 (Sedere, 1996). Bangladesh has 18 million children in 62,000 primary schools; one of the largest primary systems in the world. ? The government of Bangladesh distributes free books and education kits to students in all primary schools. ? Government stipend programme ? Non-formal education is targeted for a variety of reasons. The broad objective of non-formal education is to provide basic education – sometimes equivalent to primary education.
But depending on age group, gender dimension and a variety of socioeconomic factors, elements like life skill training or functional literacy, awareness building, credit program and so on, are incorporated or emphasized. ? Female stipend programme, where the state provides stipends to girls in secondary school (grades 6 to 10) and does not require them to pay any tuition. () Food for Education programme, where the state provides a food ration to children from rural poorer families for attending school. ? Non-formal primary education provided by NGOs, which aim at the poorest children who do not have an opportunity to attend formal schools.
Non-formal schools target girls, who make up about two-thirds of students attending non-formal schools. ACHIEVEMENTS: Bangladesh is the only country in South Asia to have achieved gender equity in primary enrollment. As reported by UNICEF and the World Bank, over the period 1980-1995, net enrollment rate1 at primary level has increased from 62% to 79%, while girls’ enrollment rate in the same period has increased much faster from 47% to 73%. The significant increase in primary enrollment rate of girls in Bangladesh in recent years marked an achievement of the country’s education system.
Efforts by the government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector have all contributed to this achievement. One of the main factors that is believed to have brought about the increase in girls’ primary enrollment rate is the involvement of NGOs’ non-formal schools, which aims to provide basic education to poor children who are non-enrolled or have dropped out of school. The most prominent school characteristic that encourages girls’ enrollment is the percentage of female teachers in non-formal schools. LIMITATIONS TO MEET THE NEEDS OF BANGLADESH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
Although in the recent past Bangladesh has achieved considerable progress in terms of primary education enrolment, further analysis suggests that the education system in Bangladesh fails to meet the needs of the Bangladesh economic development needs in general. Because, the current status of education system of Bangladesh is not well planned. Most Notable Issues: ? A shortage of fund and staffs ? A lack of physical infrastructure and facilities: Inadequate infrastructure and facilities often result in overcrowded classrooms that adversely affect scholastic achievements ?
High teacher-students ratios (up to 1:70),? Poor quality teaching: The instructors lack training experience, initiative and motivation to fulfill their responsibilities ? Lack of diversity in training ? Inadequate monitoring and assessment of student learning. ? Political instability, ? Lack of coordination between government and non-government organization. These limitations result in poor performance in terms of improving students’ life situation. Due to the gaps between and within education systems, the current status of education in the country is quantitatively inadequate, and qualitatively incompetent to address the education needs of the nation population.
Due to internal inefficiency and lack of responsiveness of the societal requirements, the education system has failed to benefit individuals who need to make a good living and to broaden their personalities with information and essential human qualities. RECOMMENDATIONS: Human resource development through education and training is particularly important for a country like Bangladesh where the natural resource base is very poor, the land-person ratio is extremely adverse, and the population is likely to continue to grow putting pressure on the economy well into the middle of the 21st century.
Inadequacy is reflected in availability of facilities and access to these facilities which suggest that rapid and extensive development of education is needed for socioeconomic development, globalization and integration with world market. 1. The vast human population of Bangladesh is the only potential resource, and this needs to be utilized to its full. 2. The rural populations are not idle, nor are they incapable. Light of education should be reached to them to enhance their contribution to the national economy and to increase their livelihood capacity.
3. In addition to the formal education network, the non-formal and informal education networks need expansion to cover the greater rural population, and to educate them for a changed national and international scenario. 4. Supplementary and complementary supporting policies, along with appropriate education policies, also are necessary to ensure proper utilization of human resources. 5. Bangladesh needs to provide service training programs to the teachers at different levels, and for different subjects. 6.
To progress well in the face of increasing global competition, it is essential to provide modern up to date technological knowledge to students; 7. It is notable that not all students have the academic ability or interest to gain technological knowledge; they should be involved in vocational education and training. 8. Government should increase their contribution to make proper plans to use the huge population to achieve economic growth. 9. Non-government, private and the educated and established citizens of the country should try to help the government to achieve the goal. LITERATURE REVIEW:
Many arguments support policies of investments in schooling, not the least of which is that basic equity demands it. But perhaps the easiest case is made in terms of the simple economic benefits. The greater impacts of investments in female education are: First, such investments lead to increased labor force participation and a subsequent expansion of the economy. Second, a variety of positive health outcomes for women and their families are known to flow from increased education. Third, education generally leads to lower fertility rates. Fourth, as primary caregivers, women have a key role in the intergenerational transmission of knowledge.
As powerful as these additional benefits may be, the case for increased investments in girls’ education is nonetheless easy to make on the simple benefits to the economy. The genius of early researchers, led by Jacob Mincer (1970, 1974), was to recognize that different amounts of schooling signified different amounts of human capital and thus could be a clear measure of the abstract idea of human capital. From a research perspective, various census and survey databases routinely provide school attainment information that can be linked to incomes and other individual outcomes.
From a policy perspective, school attainment is also a concrete notion—leading virtually all countries of the world to devote attention to rates of school completion and the promotion of access to further schooling. The worldwide quest to improve schooling is highlighted in the developing world by the establishment of the Education for All (EFA) movement (headed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations. The EFA initiative grew out of the World Summit on Education in 1990 and was given more specificity in the Dakar Summit in 2000.
The key elements of the EFA initiative (all to be accomplished by 2015) are • expand early childhood care and education; • provide free and compulsory primary education for all; • promote learning and life skills for young people and adults; • increase adult literacy by 50 percent; • achieve gender parity by 2005 and gender equality by 2015; and • improve the quality of education. The innovative analyses by Mincer (1970, 1974) considered how investing in different amounts of schooling affects individual earnings, and over the last 30 years, literally hundreds of such studies have been conducted around the world.
These studies have been reviewed in many interpretative articles, including Psacharopoulos (1994); Psacharopoulos and Patrinos (2004); and Heckman, Lochner, and Todd (2006). By all accounts, the rate of return to additional years of schooling is large. In estimates of Mincer earnings functions for 98 countries, Psacharopoulos and Patrinos (2004) found that average returns for the world are above 17 percent, and they are systematically higher in developing countries (see table 2. 1). 4 These findings have been reinforced in analyses of the relationship between schooling and economic growth.
The standard method to estimate the effect of education on economic growth is to estimate crosscountry growth regressions where countries’ average annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita over several decades is expressed as a function of measures of schooling and a set of other variables deemed to be important for economic growth. Socioeconomic effect of primary education in Bangladesh Primary Education is one of the key elements of human asset. it is one of the principal sources of increased economic growth and enhanced welfare of an individual and a household in the process of economic transformation.
Effective uses of land increased labour productivity, physical assets, and improved socio-economic empowerment are the routes through which education can contribute to economic development. Primary education does have a major effect on fertility. The primary education of women stands out as a significant factor in determining fertility. Education as a determinant of fertility: Among the various socioeconomic determinants of fertility, primary education, especially female education has received significant attention from research. Female education and supply of children: Education leads to desire for better qualified children.
Level of education of children tends to have a direct relationship with mothers schooling Education affects the supply of children through many overruling variables. These are: Age at Marriage: Women’s education and age at marriage relationship has been found in almost all fertility studies. Cleland and jejeebhoy show that in almost every country in South Asia, women with education get married “roughly two to five years later than uneducated women” Desired family size: Educated women become less fatalistic regarding their family size. Normally uneducated women believe that fertility will be determined by God.
In most research studies have been found that desired family size becomes smaller with the increase in women’s educational level. Son preference: Son preference increases the family size in the long run. Chowdhury finds that in Bangladesh son preference is so strong that even education above primary level cannot stop it. People in Bangladesh as a gender satisfied society want more sons so there is an incentive to increase fertility. They believe children are as providing means support in old age. With increasing levels of education, women tend to rely less on their children for support in old age for economic help.
Nonmarket and External Benefits of Education |Benefit type |Findings | |Child education |Parental schooling affects child’s schooling level and | | |achievement. | |Child health |Child’s health is positively related to parental education | |Fertility |Mother’s education is inversely related to daughter’s births. | |Own health |More education increases life expectancy | |Spouse’s health |More schooling improves spouse’s health and lengthens life | | |expectancy | |Job search efficiency |More schooling reduces cost of search, increases mobility | |Desired family size |More schooling improves contraceptive efficiency.
| |Technological change |Schooling helps research and development and diffusion. | |Social cohesion |Schooling increases voting and reduces alienation | |Crime |Education reduces criminal activity. | | | | Long run benefits of primary education: One may, however, be interested to know about the statistical features of the primary education budget in the long run. In that case the relationship among primary education budget (PEBUD), education budget (EBUD) total budget (BUD), and GDP becomes PEBUDt = ? 1 + ? 2EBUDt + ? 3BUDt + ? 4GDPt + u; t = 1………14 lnPEBUDt = ln? 1 + ?2lnEBUDt + ? 3lnBUDt + ? 4lnGDPt + u;
That is, there will be an increasing trend of PEBUD if the absolute amounts of BUD and GDP increase and vise versa since the positive relationship between investment on primary education and poverty reduction is well recognised in Bangladesh for many years. Table I: Regression results |Variable |Coefficient |T-ratio |Variable |Coefficient |T-ratio | | |(Standard error) | | |(Standard error) | | |Constant |474. 1 |0. 66 |lnConstant |0. 906 |0. 17 | | |(713. 9) | | |(5. 32) | | |EBUD |0. 367 |0. 49 |lnEBUD |0. 869 |0. 97 | | |(0. 754) | | |(0. 892) | | |BUD |0. 028 |0. 63 |lnBUD |0. 154* |1. 82 | | |(0. 045) | | |(0.084) | | |GDP |– 0. 004 |– 0. 22 |
lnGDP |– 0. 176 |– 0. 173 | | |(0. 019) | | |(1. 01) | | | | | | | | | R2 = 0. 739, Adjusted R2 = 0. 66, F = 9. 43, Durbin-Watson d = 1. 94 R2 = 0. 898, Adjusted R2 = 0. 867, F = 29. 26, Durbin-Watson d = 1. 86 Note: * indicates that the estimated coefficient is significant at 10 per cent level Based on data from 1990/91 to 2003/04 the estimated regression results have been shown in Table I. It reveals the fact that on average Tk one crore increase in education and total budgets on average led to net increase in primary education budget about Tk 37 and 3 lac respectively.
On the other hand, as opposite to our expectation, Tk one crore increase in GDP is associated with on average Tk 40 thousand decrease in primary education budget keeping other regressors constant. That is, there is no guarantee that an increase in GDP will result in increased level of expenditure on primary education. Loglinear regression provides almost similar results. However, GDP elasticity of primary education budget is much less than one. Durbin Watson d values indicate the absence of autocorrelation in both the regressions. We can also explain the long run effect using the Solow growth model.
Suppose there is only physical capital (K1) present in the economy. We can define the production function as [pic] If we divide the both sides of the production function by L, we will get the output per worker as follows: Now, in the presence of human capital (primary education) we can define the production function as follows: [pic], Where [pic] If we divide the both sides of the production function by L, we will get the output per worker as follows: Now, consider the following graph. It shows that in the presence of only physical capital the economy reaches at a steady state where per capita capital is [pic]and per capita output is[pic].
However, in the presence of human capital (primary education) both the production curve and break even investment curve shifts upwards. As a result, we will get a new stable steady state point where both per capita capital and per capital output will increase to [pic] and[pic]. In other words, we can say in the long run the social welfare of Bangladesh will increase in the presence of compulsory primary education. [pic] Government programmes in primary education: The government of Bangladesh has been regularly implementing a few development projects over the years to “develop” the state of primary education.
The names of the projects have been mentioned in various Annual Development Programme (ADP) documents. For example, some of the important projects (being) implemented during fiscal year 2000/01 to 2004/05 are Food for Education, Sub-stipend for Primary Education, Non formal Education, Primary Education Project, Registered Non-Govt Primary School Development Project, Reconstruction and Development of Govt Primary Schools, Primary Education Development through Intensive District Approach, and Primary Education Development Programme.
Many of these programmes are important for improving the state of primary education in Bangladesh, no doubt. But when the quality comes as the most important concern, there must be some thrust programmes for improving quality. The National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction, popularly known as “Preleminary Draft PRSP” has considered quality as an important ingredient in future government budgetary intervention so as to relate it with greater impact on poverty reduction.
Outlined in the Policy Matrix 13, the strategic goals regarding primary education in this document are: a) Introduce a unified and common primary education opportunity for all children. b) Increase access to primary education c) Improve quality of education at primary level d) Ensure equality and equity in education at the primary level e) Improve quality of madrasha education at the primary level However, education is not an opportunity, it is a fundamental right ratified by the Constitution of Bangladesh. Accessibility has two dimensions: physical and economic.
In terms of enhancing physical accessibility the current government development programmes have their own merits, but regarding economic accessibility there is only one programme (Sub-stipend for Education) that directly transfers resource to the poor parents to make their children interested to be enrolled and complete Grade V. The earlier version of the programme, Food for Education was pro-poor (Osmani et al, 2003), and the current programme has also been identified as pro-poor (Rahman and Ali, 2003). But the other programmes are mostly related to school infrastructure and construction works.
PRSP document forecasted that PEDP-II would improve quality of education for three-quarters of primary school students subject to its ‘effective’ implementation. Nevertheless, PEDE-II is a quite ambitious project, and its effective implementation needs major reform in primary education sub-sector. Absence of regular training of the primary school tutors2 amid their low quality, high pupil-tutor ratio, poor physical facilities, inadequate female tutors, oldfashioned tutors’ training, excessive burden of administrative and other works, low salary package, etc.
are the serious problems, which has not been adequately addressed by the contemporary budgets and PRSP. Policy Implications: Primary education is sometimes even more important than higher education in terms of its impact on poverty alleviation. The problems of primary education in Bangladesh are, inter alia, poor educational background of the tutors, inadequacy of female tutors, very high pupil-tutor ratio, poor physical facilities, old-fashioned tutors’ training, excessive burden of administrative and other works, and low salary package.
Primary education budget in Bangladesh has been meager over the years with respect to its requirement particularly in improving quality of education. The Annual Development Programmes directed to primary education sub-sector are quite inadequate to bring about desirable social returns. Share of primary education in GDP has also been very low, around one per cent, over the past fifteen years. The South Asian scenario is almost similar compared to Bangladesh. Long-run relationship between GDP and primary education budget is negative for Bangladesh.
All these have negative implications to common goal of quality primary education in Bangladesh as well as in South Asia. Despite all these budgetary constraints Bangladesh and other South Asian countries have been doing vary well in terms of attainments in primary education. Given this reality there are some budgetary imperatives in order to achieve desirable social impact of primary education in Bangladesh: • Share of primary education both in budget and GDP needs to be increased consistently. There should be a positive relationship between increase in GDP and primary education budget in the long run.
• Primary education revenue budget should be substantially increased in order to attract quality tutors in this profession by handsome salary subvention package. • The primary focus of development budget should be enhancing quality of primary education. Regular and modern training programmes should be designed and implemented in order to bring about motivation and dynamicity among the tutors. • Pupil-tutor ratio should be substantially reduced to at least 20:1; that is, the number of tutors will have to increase three-fold. This will require substantial budgetary intervention.
• Adequate administrative personnel should be recruited in the primary schools so that they can extend services in different school related programmes, administrative activities, surveys, immunization programmes and other works. This will help reduce tutors’ burden of other works substantially, and they will be able to concentrate on the classrooms and students. • Primary education sub-sector needs long-term reform programmes in order to reach its standard at a level so that it can effectively create knowledge workers for the twenty-first century. Conclusion:
In summary, education is a human right, and such, should receive priority in allocation of natural resources. It is very short-sighted to keep education bound and ‘gagged to the role of manufacturing skilled manpower’ or to judge one’s success by the number of either children or adults who have efficiently undertaken a ‘learning package’ (Hallak, 1990). Education was previously seen as fundamental, not only to economic development, but also to the social or political development.