Right to Employment and quality of education
Oli Md. Abdullah Chowdhury
Bangladesh has made commendable progress in creating access to both primary and secondary education. There is significant achievement in school enrolment and learners in great number are taking admission in secondary schools after successful completion of primary schooling. Gender parity has been achieved not only in primary education but in secondary education too. Quality however remains a concern and most of the learners fail to gain required skill necessary for employment even after successful completion of schooling.
State of unemployment
A recent study (Labour Force Survey-LFS) conducted by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics has revealed a sharp increase in unemployment. The number of jobless people in the country rose to 2.6 million in 2010, up from 2.1 million three years ago.
Right to employment
“The State shall endeavour to create conditions in which, as a general principle, persons shall not be able to enjoy unearned incomes, and in which human labour in every form, intellectual and physical, shall become a fuller expression of creative endeavour and of the human personality”- said in Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Work has earlier been referred as a right, duty and matter of honour for every citizen who is capable of working. Let alone labourers with limited education and skill, primary and secondary completers in large number have limited access to job market.
Quality is a concern
Civil society organisations and development partners have long been expressing their concern about the quality of education offered in most of the schools. Though enrolment and completion improved significantly, quality has not improved meaningfully in primary schools. Very few pupils tend to achieve desired competencies though number of children completing primary education is quite high.
A number of studies including Education Watch reveal shamble state of quality in primary education. Edcation Watch Report 2008, entitled, “State of Primary Education in Bangladesh” revealed an improvement in students' achievement of nationally determined competencies. However, it is still far from expectation and the report expressed a number of concerns. “Low achievements in the 'understanding level' items and inequities in terms of gender, school type and residence are some related issues linked to the quality of the system. Students' learning achievement depended much on their background characteristics and private tutoring than on the school related factors, which should be a wake-up call for the schools”- said in the study.
Poor access in deprived regions
A study (A Case for Geographic Targeting of Basic Social Services to Mitigate Inequalities in Bangladesh) undertaken by UNICEF Bangladesh has identified gap in service provisions between different regions. Indicators were high school enrolment, skill birth attendance, proportion of population using improved sanitation and adult literacy rate. Interestingly, Sylhet was found to be worst performer among all the divisions.
In order to improve employment situation, government has the responsibility of creating jobs as well as improving quality of education provided in the educational institutions. Government functionaries tend to take pride while pointing at the high percentage of children passing primary school certificate and junior school certificate exams. If completers do not have an access to continuing education leading to employment, they would be deprived of their right to employment. Rising rate of unemployment would also create additional pressure on our fragile economy.
The writer is a human rights worker.