Families’ spending in education: Less allocation cannot ensure quality education

The role of the government in the education sector of Bangladesh, revealed in a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), is deplorable.

UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring Report annually surveys government and private spending on education in different countries. According to the data, families bear 71 per cent of the expenditure in the education sector in Bangladesh. This means, the government spends only 29 per cent. Isn’t that just big talks when the government brags about their various initiatives in the development of education.

The most worrying fact came out in the report is Bangladesh tops among the countries in South Asia in terms of families spending money in the education sector. It also revealed that the private educational institutions charge nine times more fees compared to government institutions.

Private tuition was less popular earlier. The practice was totally absent in rural areas. Now tuition has become rampant in almost all areas. Parents have the notion that if their child does not take tuition, they will not be able to do well in exams. If the parents do not find a skilled one, they send the children to take tuition from the teacher of their own school.

Students are now facing two types of problems. Their interest in attending classes is declining. Students believe, what is the need to attend the classroom when they can learn that from a private tutor?

We can look into the government allocations to the education sector. While education experts have been demanding more allocation in the education sector, the news that the rate of allocation in the education sector is gradually decreasing is very alarming.

Experts believe that 6 per cent of GDP should be spent on education while the prevailing allocation is only 2 per cent. It is even less in some fiscals. In 2022-23 fiscal, the ratio of allocation in the education sector compared to GDP is said to be 1.83 per cent. Last year this allocation was 2.8 per cent.

In the event organised to mark the release of the UNESCO report, education minister Dipu Moni talked about increasing the quality of education and introducing new knowledge-based curriculum, but did not make any promises about increasing the government allocation for education. In a country where nearly a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line and the vast majority struggle to afford food and shelter, there is no choice but to increase allocations in education sector.

Even after 51 years of independence, quarter of the people are deprived of education. Sri Lanka, the economy of the country has recently collapsed, also progressed a lot in terms of education.

To implement the quality education that the education minister has underscored, 6 per cent of the GDP must be allocated to this sector. Increase investment in education without increasing spending on unproductive sectors.

If the allocation is increased in education and healthcare, the whole nation will get its benefits. And finally, if the government wants the students to go back to the classroom, private teaching in any form-coaching or guidebooks - must be stopped.