Frustrating in terms of percentage of total budget, GDP: Experts
Published : Friday, 5 June, 2015, Time : 12:00 AM, View Count : 27
It has been proposed that Tk 31,618 crore will be allocated for education and technology sector which is the third largest provision in terms of expenditure in the budget of 2015-16 fiscal year, according to the Finance Minister. Though Finance Minister AMA Muhith proposed to increase budgetary allocations for the education and technology sector, the allocation is not increased in terms of percentage of the total budget. According to the proposed budget brief, the education and technology sector is given 10.9 per cent allocation of the total budget of Tk 295,100 crore while the education sector is allocated 10.71 per cent. In the previous budget, the education sector was given more than 11 per cent allocation of the total budget. "It is frustrating that the percentage in terms of total budget is decreasing each year while the number of students is increasing every year," said educationist Rasheda K Choudhury. The government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina allocated 14 per cent for education in the year 2000, she added. The former education adviser to the caretaker government told the Daily Observer, "The allocation for 2015-16 fiscal year is not adequate even for implementing the National Education Policy, adopted by the current government in 2010, which requires minimum 4 per cent allocation in terms of percentage of GDP (gross domestic product)." This year allocation in education sector slid to 1.84 per cent of GDP from 2 per cent. Experts said education has paramount importance in reducing poverty in various ways while the budgetary allocation by the government for education is quite lower than those of other South Asian countries. "Not to speak of the government commitments to many international forums to spend six per cent of its GDP on education, the government should spend at least four per cent of the GDP as laid out in the national education policy," Rasheda said. Muhith proposed to allocate Tk 14,502 crore for the Ministry of Education and Tk 17,103 crore for the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education. The Finance Minister in his budget speech said, "The foundation of education is laid at the primary level. Hence, we are placing special emphasis on ensuring quality primary education and planning to expand primary education upto class VIII by 2018." In order to retain the benefit of cent per cent enrolment, the government has taken up a school feeding programme for about 3,390,000 children in all primary schools of 93 upazilas, he said, adding that "Formulation of School Feeding Policy is also in the offing." He said that of the planned 1,500 primary schools, 1,019 primary schools have been constructed in villages having no schools and the rest is under construction. Rasheda K Choudhury, the executive director of Campaign for Popular Education, said there are 500 villages in the country which have not a single educational institution. The Finance Minister said tribal children are now able to undertake primary education in their own language as primary education curriculum has been developed in eleven tribal languages. "Provision of stipends for girl students at the graduate and equivalent levels will also be continued from the profit of Tk 75 crore earned from Tk 1,000 crore seed money of the Education Assistance Trust Fund of the Prime Minister," Muhith said. He said to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend a project of Tk 924 crore is being implemented to establish one technical school in each of 100 upazilas. In addition, development projects have been undertaken for setting-up of a technical school in every divisional town, poly-technical institutes in 23 districts, four technical institutes for women in four divisions and an engineering college in every division, he said. "Besides, a project has been taken up to deliver basic literacy and life skills training to illiterate people of 15 to 45 years age group," the Finance Minister stated. He said the government is developing websites for all educational institutions. The task of setting-up Barisal Engineering College is also underway while initiatives have also been taken to establish Banghabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University, Gazipur Digital University, Khulna Agricultural University, Bangladesh Islamic Arabic University and Rabindra University at Shahjadpur, Sirajganj, said Muhith in his budget speech. "In order to ensure the quality of higher education at private universities, we have almost finalized the process of establishing an Accreditation Council," he said.