- Tk66,000cr allocated for education sector in FY 2020-21
- Education ministries spent only Tk56,000cr
- Training and skill development programmes stopped for teachers
- Government has not done any research on learning loss
- No initiative to address the achievement gap
- No money spent to help private institutions
- ICT for Education Project-2 not implemented since June 2020
The Ministry of Education and the Primary and Mass Education Ministry could not spend the full budgetary allocation for the 2020-21 fiscal year since the sector, ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, saw educational institutes closed for more than a year.
The government allocated Tk66,000 crore this fiscal year for the country's education sector, but the education ministries have spent Tk56,000 crore.
Professor Syed Golam Faruk, director-general of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, told The Business Standard that they have stopped all kinds of training and skills development programmes for teachers due to Covid-19.
The education sector is among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to the closure of educational institutions across the country.
But there is no government research on learning loss, and no initiative to address the achievement gap and to keep students from dropping out of school.
The education ministry has not spent any funds to help private institutions which have been shuttered by the pandemic induced economic catastrophe. Many such institutions have shut down their academic activities completely and many people have lost their jobs.
The government has spent some money to operate online classes but most students could not take advantage of the facility due to technological barriers such as the unavailability and high cost of internet connections, and a lack of smartphones and televisions.
The authorities have not even implemented any ICT work for Education in Secondary and Higher Secondary Level Project-2 since June 2020, despite great demand for ICT based education in the country due to the remote learning process amid the pandemic.
The project was introduced in 2016 to set up multimedia classrooms in 31,340 secondary and higher secondary schools and madrassas across the country at a cost of Tk1,353 crore.
Of the amount, Tk400 crore was allocated for teacher training and the rest for buying digital devices. The target of the project was to train 572,000 teachers across the country for six to 12 days. Only 150,000 teachers have been trained so far.
Like this project, the government could not continue other training and skill development programmes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Abdul Mazid, former chairman of the National Board of Revenue, told The Business Standard that the education ministries have not been able to use the budgetary allocation properly. As a result, many development projects are taking too much time to be fully implemented.
"I think funds are not the issue for our education sector. Rather, there is extreme weakness in implementing the budgetary allocation. If the allocation is used properly, the education sector can achieve many things," he said.
Brac University Professor Emeritus, Manzoor Ahmed, said, "Last year I proposed allocating a special budget to set up district and upazila committees made of community representatives, to curtail school dropouts and estimate learning loss. But the education ministry did not take any steps in this regard."
The development budget must be used properly. If the ministry can do that, at least the dropout rate can be checked. Now, some 18 percent of students have dropped out from primary school and 37 percent from secondary school
"The education ministry hardly takes our suggestions. We have urged the ministry to increase the stipend amount for poor students and to provide their families with financial support, but they ignored our suggestion," he said.
"The development budget must be used properly. If the ministry can do that, at least the dropout rate can be checked. Now, some 18 percent of students have dropped out from primary school and 37 percent from secondary school," he added.
The development allocation also needs to be increased to ensure quality education at all levels, said professor Manzoor.
The budgetary allocation for the development of the education sector has increased slightly, but it is not enough to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. The Secondary and Higher Education Division got a Tk11,865 crore development budget in 2020-21, which was Tk9,150 crore in the outgoing fiscal year.
The development allocation for the Technical and Madrasa Division is Tk1,976 crore, which was Tk1,355 crore in the outgoing fiscal year. The figure is Tk9,404 for the Primary and Mass Education Ministry, which was Tk9,016 crore in the outgoing year.