The World Bank recently unveiled a report titled “Learning to Realise Education's Promise” and in it we find that Bangladesh spends less than the South Asian average on education. Quality education remains a major concern and graduates from the schooling system are lacking in skills to read, write and do basic mathematics. The average school going child gets about 11 years of schooling but they lose around 4.5 years due to poor quality of schooling. We are alarmed to learn that a third of Grade 3 students score too low to be tested in reading comprehension in Bangla and a quarter of Grade 5 students pass with bare minimum marks in math. It is clear that teaching methods in our classrooms at primary levels are handicapping a large percentage of students and this requires greater investment.
Without early childhood development programmes, low quality teaching practices and poor school management, a significant number of students will be left behind as they grow older. Without quality education these children will ultimately graduate from higher seats of learning without the necessary knowledge that will be required of them to get good jobs. Although the government has been able to improve student retention, attain gender parity in schools and increased budgetary allocation fivefold for education, the fact remains, it is not just about overall spending but how the money is being used. Investments should not be concentrated merely on infrastructure, but attracting high quality teachers and improving the teaching and learning methods in schools. Although the government is committed to spend at least four percent of GDP under the SDG, the latest budgetary allocation on education in the current fiscal is approximately two percent and hence the question remains, are we prioritising education, especially quality education?