The government claims success in various sectors of socioeconomic development. In education, the government says the literacy rate is 73 per cent. But non-government organisations claim a lower percentage of literacy.
A recent report of the World Bank says that on average, a Bangladeshi person undergoes 5.1 schooling years. The total education span is 17 years, from primary school to the post graduate level. A student hardly learns much in just 5.1 years. In India the average span a student remains in school is 5.8 years, 10.9 years in Sri Lanka, 10.1 in Malaysia and 7.8 in Vietnam.
If a student has only 5.1 schooling years, he or she will study till class IV which cannot be ample qualification and cannot create skilled citizens. A person needs to study eight to nine years at least.
After the independence, the Muhammad Qudrat-i-Khuda education commission recommended primary education up to class VIII. However, no government felt it necessary to implement that recommendation. The education policy of 2010 had pledged to take primary education up till class VIII, but that remains a pledge.
The human resources of any country depend on the quality of its education. The socioeconomically developed countries of the world have high education rates and the span of education is lengthy too. While Bangladesh is progressing considerably in human resource development, it is still lagging behind in education, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
International development agencies consider human resources to be an important indicator of development. According to the World Bank, the countries with highly developed human resources have education spans of 13 to 15 years. For medium standard countries, this is 8 to 10 years. So Bangladesh will not be able to advance much with just 5 schooling years. And the quality of our education is questionable too.
In its ‘World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’, the World Bank stated that 35 per cent of the students in class III in Bangladesh, cannot read Bangla. And 25 per cent of the class V students cannot do simple math.
The lack of early childhood development, low quality education, weak school management and the government’s inadequate fund allocation are seen as the reasons behind the country’s poor system of education.
A report of Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS) states that 20 per cent of the children enrolling in primary school drop out before they reach class V. And over 40 per cent drop out before they reach secondary school.
Given these figure, there is no room for boasting or complacence when it comes to literacy rates. Each and every man and woman of the country must be equipped with an education appropriate to the times. The policymakers must understand that pushing up literacy figures will make no difference. This will not create skilled human resources. Skilled human resources can only be built through appropriate education.