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     Volume 10 |Issue 22 | June 10, 2011 |


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Book Review

Education vs Equity in Bangladesh

Nameera Ahmed

Dr Manzoor Ahmed a Senior Adviser, Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh, with the help of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Stuart Cameron, and Samer Al- Samarrai among other contributors, has recently compiled a book, with the help of CREATE (Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity), which delves into the various aspects of 'Quality Education' in the context of Bangladesh.

Initially, the book brings to light how, now as Bangladesh enters into its 5th decade of Independence, it simultaneously reaches out to transform itself from a UN designated 'least developed' country to a middle income economy with a brightly lit future in overall development and in the deliverance of equity. With this aim in mind the book is a collection of the opinions of distinguished researchers from the home front and abroad as they collectively analysed and critically processed the many hurdles faced when concerning oneself with education in Bangladesh. The book, entitled 'Education in Bangladesh – Overcoming Hurdles to Equity with Quality', is a twelve chapter encyclopedia of sorts on the education system and its many challenges. Covered in both statistical and theoretical issues, the book is a wonderful 'how-to-guide' for all education based questions, not to mention a noteworthy work on the 'why not' or 'dropout' factors of the educational realm in our country.

The first chapter is a systematic overview of the recent progress of Bangladesh with regard to education, the chapter elaborates on primary education, literacy through non-formal education, dropouts, vocational training as well as secondary and higher education in depth. The chapter goes on to talk about how governance management issues are and can be said to bring out sharp relief with regards to the many problems of the education system, as well as a brief summary of the many issues regarding the financing of education.

The next chapter goes on to discuss the challenges of accessibility of education when steeped in poverty as is most of this country. The chapter talks about how lack of food security and health care access in most households rivals the ability to afford an education, especially considering requirements of school equipment as well as the modern day education business that is – private tutoring. The chapter also touches on the current policies in place now to tackle not just poverty but also this unequal access to education. The third and fourth chapters deal exclusively with school dropouts and the age as per grade progression in our country. Statistical data is compiled together to allow for a comprehensive overview of why children are dropping out as well as highlighting the concepts of 'silent exclusion' and the reasoning behind the overage enrollment of children in general. Following close in the heels of this very issue are the next chapters which bring forward the issue of education decisions in slums, as well as the subject of quality equity.

Having now created a semi-visual appreciation of the situation of education in our country the book then goes on to problem solving. Chapter seven is a testament to the many initiatives thought of and tried as the authors talk about SWAP (Sector Wide Approaches) and it's many goals and areas of emphasis. It then focuses on the ever prevalent issue of financing such education in Bangladesh, with many studies bringing forward the obstacles we have yet to face.

The book's last few chapters sum up the concepts of literacy confusion- that is to say it's actual meaning and its implications whilst elaborating once again on the policy measures and promotional research avenues, while also bringing to light the educational policy contexts Bangladesh finds itself submissive to with regard to international treaties and so forth. It points out that the country's major concern at the moment are to be faced in 2015 when the next phases of primary education development in the country will shape the future of the country.

The book concludes itself by summarily touching on a list of issues brought into perspective through the intense research and analysis of CREATE, and talks about how these issues, such as - birth registration, child migration, silent exclusion, response to poverty stricken families, common equal standards and the harnessing of NGO contribution among other factors need desperately to be addressed and acted upon.

With a retail value of US$20 and Tk. 800, this BRAC University Press publication is a comprehensive foray into the complex world of educational backwardness we as a country are fighting. Editor, Manzoor Ahmed has provided a well organised handbook which gives us at least an overview into the many basic issues as well as some of the deeper sides the lack of educational equity show in its stark existence.


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