Learning crisis handicaps Bangladesh students: WB report

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka | Update:

The World Bank logoThe World Bank has observed that many Bangladesh students find it hard to get good jobs for they leave their education system without required skills to read, write or do basic math.

This suggests, according to a WB report, quality of education remains a concern despite the country’s remarkable success in bringing nearly all children to primary school.

The WB’s World Development Report 2018 has insisted that the country should address this learning crisis by investing more in education and investing more effectively.

“Schooling is not the same as learning. In Bangladesh, children can expect to get around 11 years of schooling, but they lose about 4.5 [years] of these due to the poor quality of schooling,” said the report titled ‘Learning to Realise Education’s Promise, presented in Dhaka on Wednesday.

The report cited example that 35 per cent of grade 3 students scored too low to even be tested on reading comprehension in Bangla, and only 25 per cent of grade 5 students in the country passed the minimum threshold in math.

“A big reason why schooling does not translate into learning is because in many countries there is a need for continued strengthening of investment in young children,” WB senior director for education Jaime Saavedra said.

“Children from poor and vulnerable groups are left behind as early as 6 months of age as they do not have the right nutrition and the right stimulation. These shortcomings have a large impact as children grow older,” he added.

The WB report explained that the key factors behind the shortcomings are: lack of access to early childhood development programs, low quality of teaching practices, challenges related to poor school management, and low levels of overall spending on public education.

“Quality early childhood development programs are fundamental and vital investments for Bangladesh to tackle the learning crisis,” added Jaime Saavedra.

WB country director Bob Saum said the country has the potential to create a globally competitive workforce by investing in education.

“Bangladesh’s share of public spending on education is lower than the South Asian average and about half of Malaysia’s share of spending on education. But it’s not just about the overall spending, it’s also about how spending is being used,” he pointed out.

“Systematically measuring whether schooling is translating into learning is critical for ensuring that education spending is effective.”

The report recommended assessing learning to keep track of progress and improving school systems by attracting high-quality teachers, improving teaching and learning process and motivating children to come to school.

It also emphasised using data on learning to mobilise all stakeholders - from the private sector to policymakers and parents - to improve quality of learning for a more vibrant and skilled workforce in the future.
The report launch event, which was organised in collaboration with the Lego Foundation, was attended among others by state minister for foreign affairs Md. Shahriar Alam.

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