Highest allocation for education, or not?


Educationists, economists and development experts have been calling for the highest budget allocation for the education sector for many years. Previous governments did not take these demands into the consideration. During the tenure of the current government, the allocation for the education sector has been11-12 per cent, which is only two per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The little increase in allocation does not warrant optimism.

Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said a total of Tk 876.20 billion (Tk 87,620 crore) is allocated for education in the proposed budget. This is a ruse. He said 28 ministries and departments will jointly implement the allocation, but some of this is out of allocation of the education budget. As the budget is allocated ministry-wise, so the allocation of the education ministry has to be estimated for the budget of the education sector. But the government is counting the allocation of the science and technology ministry and the information and communication technology division as the allocation for the education budget. This is not justified. The allocation of the science and technology ministry should be separate.

A total of 224.66 billion (Tk 22,466 crore) was allocated for the primary and mass education ministry in the 2018-19 fiscal year. A total of Tk 240.41 billion (Tk 24041 crore) was allocated in the 2019-20 fiscal year. A total of Tk 248.88 billion (Tk 248.88 crore) was allocated for the secondary and the higher education ministry. And Tk 296.24 billion (Tk 29,624 crore) was allocated in the 2019-20 fiscal year. The allocation for the technical and madrasa division has been increased from Tk 57 billion (5,700 crorer) to Tk 74.53 billion (TK 7,453 crore). The total allocation for the education sector was Tk 530.54 billion (Tk 53,054 core) in the last fiscal year, and Tk 611.18 billion (Tk 61,118 crore). Only Tk 80.64 billion (80.64 crore) is raised in the education sector.

It is unfortunate that required budget is not allocated even after 48 years of independence. If human resources is to be turned into skilled human resource, the allocation for the education sector has to be increased. It is also necessary to see how the allocation is being spent. Citing an example of Japan, the finance minister in his budget speech talked about hiring teachers from abroad. If necessary, teachers can be hired from abroad. But the most important thing is that the environment in the educational institutions be created in such a way that the meritorious students enter teaching profession and are encouraged to stay. The educational institutions have to be kept above politics. Qualified persons have to be posted in the right place. The finance minister talked about establishing modern and technology-based classrooms. But many educational institutions in the villages are in bad shape. The policymakers are well aware that modern technology-based classrooms cannot be established in these educational institutions.

A portion of the allocation will be spent for inclusion of educational institutions in the MPO. After stalling for about ten years, the government has decided to include institutions in the MPO. This will be a relief for many teachers. But the quality and qualification of the institutions have to be taken into consideration while including them in the MPO. Currently two thirds of the allocation is spent on the payment of the teachers and employees and one third on the development of the education. If we want to develop education, we have to increase the allocation for this development.

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