Education, health sectors need more investment | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 17, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:58 PM, November 16, 2015

Education, health sectors need more investment

Speakers at Bangladesh Development Forum meet; training, good governance also emphasised

Brac founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has suggested a 10-year rigorous plan to draw talented graduates to the teaching profession for improving the country's education quality.

Teaching seems to be the last option to those seeking jobs after graduation, which is disappointing, he said at a discussion on health and education at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital yesterday.

Due to a lack of inspiring teachers, many at the secondary level do not take up math and science -- the subjects that are essential at this time of technological advancement, he added.

Abed was speaking at the high-level meeting of Bangladesh Development Forum 2015, which brought together ministers, officials, development partners and civil society members to find the areas of strengthening partnership for the country's development. Yesterday was the last day of the two-day event.

Stipends can be offered to graduate students at government colleges so that they can prepare themselves for teaching in primary and secondary schools.

In ten years, a good number of quality teachers would be in service then. Two to three teachers can work as nucleus to transform the classrooms, Abed said. 

“If we cannot do it, our education will suffer.”

He made the recommendations at a time when Bangladesh has achieved 97.7 percent enrolment in primary schools but 20 percent of them drop out before completing primary education. Besides, the quality of education has been questioned.   

Abed suggested unifying primary and secondary education ministries, but making a separate one to deal with the higher education.

He also expressed disappointment with the low budgetary allocation, which is around 1.8 percent of Bangladesh's Gross Domestic Product, for education. It should be raised to 4 percent of the GDP, he said.

On the health sector, Abed, who leads the world's largest NGO, said health shocks were pushing some 3 to 5 million people below the poverty line every year. Despite progress in health indicators, the number of children suffering malnutrition, mothers dying while giving births is very high, he said.

Rasheda K Chowdhury, director of the Campaign for Popular Education, suggested the government should raise fund for education through imposing tax.

Bangladesh has to focus on domestic resources. “Development partners will be there, but the government should be at the driving seat,” she said.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, who chaired the session, said he endorsed the idea of unifying primary and secondary education ministries and improving the governance of educational institutions. 

As Bangladesh grows into a middle-income country by 2021, it needs more investment in training health staff and improving governance, said Navaratnasamy Paranietharan, Bangladesh's country representative of the World Health Organization.

The allocation for health in the current fiscal year is Tk 11,146 crore, which is 4.45 percent of the total budget. WHO suggested increasing it to 15 percent of the budget.

Jeff Nankivell, director general of the Asia-Pacific in foreign affairs, trade and development, Canada, suggested investments in market-related skills development, ensuring quality and equity in education and stopping child marriages. 

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