Importance of education in post-LDC era

Importance of education in post-LDC era

The literacy rate in Bangladesh is hovering around 72-74 per cent. That means we are far off the mark of achieving cent per cent literacy rate. This is the state of literacy rate, let alone the quality of education.

Primary education was made compulsory in our country in 1990. The government took different measures to convince the guardians to send their children to school. No doubt, the efforts have paid off. Over the years, the country has made notable progress in ensuring children's access to education. Now the percentage of primary school age children enrolled stands at 98 per cent with the total number hovering around 18 million (1.8 crore). But this is not the end of the story. The dropout rate remains a big concern.

In 2019, nearly 3.2 million (32.30 lakh) students appeared in the primary education terminal exams, a big drop in the number of students continuing education up to the fifth grade. Then comes the Junior School Certificate Exams. According to available data, the number of students continuing education up to the eighth grade stood at 2.46 million (24.68 lakh). This indicates how students are dropping out at every hurdle. It underlines the importance of rethinking our education system.

The United Nations has set a threshold of public expenditure on education. As per that threshold, the public expenditure on education should account for 6.0 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). But is that happening in Bangladesh? Available data suggest that the total public expenditure on education in the country was 1.6 per cent of GDP in 1990. It rose to about 2.0 per cent in 2000. But as the GDP was rebased with the fiscal year 2015-16 set as the base year, the percentage came down to 1.4 in FY21. Experts have warned that the share of spending on education compared to the GDP is decreasing. That raises the all important question: Are we serious about education?

Education is one of our fundamental rights. Every citizen should get access to education at least up to the 12th grade and that should be free of cost. In our society, people are left uneducated and half-educated while a small number of them can get access to  higher education. This creates deep divisions in society. This is a big hindrance to nation-building. No nation can go ahead with society so divided.

In 2026 Bangladesh is going to graduate from the Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing one. Many of the trade preferences that Bangladesh is now enjoying will not exist anymore after graduation. Education will then become a big challenge. If we want to ensure human resource development, it will be suicidal to ignore the quality of education. Once people are educated as they are in the developed countries, they will help the government in facing the economic challenges. Now we depend heavily on remittances from expatriates and readymade garment exports for our foreign exchange earnings. But there are many other untapped areas. These days freelancing is emerging as a new window of opportunity. For industrialisation, we need skill development. So without education, the country will be nowhere near what it aspires to be in the post-LDC era.

[email protected]

Share if you like

Filter By Topic