Academics and educationists at a programme on Wednesday recommended conducting research, increasing the period of the academic year, providing training to teachers and including all sections working in the education sector to recover learning losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, they observed that the issue of mental development of children in Bangladesh is still neglected, which has resulted in children's low ability with regard to critical thinking and engaging in creative jobs.
The observations emerged in light of a report of CAMPE to the effect that scores in mathematics of standard five students dropped significantly in 2015 compared to 2011.
The experts also urged that the government work together with non-government organisations in order to recover the losses and face future challenges, with NGOs playing an important role in promoting education in Bangladesh.
They made the recommendations at a webinar, titled 'Celebrating 50 years of Bangladesh and CSOs: Achievements, Challenges and Forward-Looking Areas in Education', organized by CAMPE-DAM-Education Watch (CSO Alliance).
Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was present as chief guest while Aroma Dutta MP was special guest on the occasion.
Dr Kazi Kholiquzzaman, chairman of Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation (PKSF) and Education Watch, presided over the discussion while Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education, moderated the function.
Mostafizur Rahaman, programme manager of CAMPE, presented the keynote paper at the webinar.
Citing data, Mostafizur Rahman said the quality of education, especially in mathematics of standard III and V, has dropped significantly over the years. In 2011, the score in math of class V was 32, which rose to 34 in 2013, but fell to 10 in 2015.
Similarly, the score in math of class III students dropped to 41 in 2015. It was 50 in 2011 and 57 in 2013.
"We have achieved 98% enrollment in primary education, reduced the dropout rate at all levels, 99% of students get free textbooks, adult literacy rate is now 75% and 14% of secondary students are on a vocational track," said Mostafizur.
Even so, 2.5 million school-aged children are out of school while the dropout rate is as high as 18% in primary education; the rate is high at the secondary level, with fewer than half of the number of students completing the five-year cycle of secondary education. At the same time, the gender gap in secondary education is high (57% male and 43% female).
"The pupil-teacher ratio is very high at the secondary level (46:1) and 77% of the schools run on double shift. Learning time in a school year is less than half of the international average," he added.
Manzoor Ahmed, professor emeritus at Brac University, said initiatives towards the mental development of children is important. But it is still neglected in Bangladesh.
"Only 10-15% of children are getting the privileges needed for their mental development. Children cannot think critically and cannot do any creative job if they are not mentally developed," he said.
"Basic qualities like math, communication and thinking pattern of the children have to be developed in the larger interest and also to face future challenges. This is not only the government's job but it and the NGOs must work jointly," he said.
In her observations, Rasheda K Chowdhury said it has been proved that mid-day meals contributed to a decline in dropouts at the primary level of education. But the project will come to an end in December and there has been no initiative to renew it.
She urged the government to bring secondary education under nationalisation like primary education.
"Bangladesh has achieved much in the education sector in 50 years but the future is one of challenges. Therefore, the government and NGOs must work together," she said.