What the education budget needs to be

The sectors that have suffered the most in the Corona epidemic are visible, but the loss of education is not visible. And so it is not possible to determine what the remedy will be because it is not visible because it is more frightening. The biggest fear is how to apply the medicine if the symptoms of the disease are not detected. To offset this loss of education, some are trying to read on their own, some are taking radio-TV classes, some are trying online, some parents have arranged for private tutoring of children on their own initiative. But the six-seven-hour stay at school and its socialization, participation, interaction with many deficient students have been for fifteen months. We must first understand whether the traditional education budget will remedy this. As a way to save teachers and students from corona, closures are being extended in stages; No one can say where it ends. However, it is true that the state of education is not the same as before, at least everywhere. Prior to this budget, direct teaching was required in some schools; For example, face-to-face teaching is possible in the least affected areas and limited online education should be provided and online education should be given priority in the most affected areas. There is a need to map out how much the government will give, how much the school authorities will give and how the parents will participate.

A joint study by the private research firm Power and Participatory Research Center (PPRC) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) found that urban students were at higher risk of learning deficit, with 26 per cent for girls and 30 per cent for boys. Among the poorest of the poor, 33 per cent of secondary school-going boys are likely to drop out of school due to the economic downturn. The results also show that only 10 percent of students have or are using the facilities required for distance learning. As a result, the rate of learning through public and private channels is very low. If there is no security of income for the parents, it will have an effect on education, because what is the point of educating a hungry child? Malnutrition affects both health and education. Privately run school-college teachers-staff, especially non-MPO, kindergarten, English medium school teachers are at risk of security with income. Apparently no measures are being taken to remove them from this risk.

Among these realities, the budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 is going to be presented on June 3. It is a question of whether the traditional budget will be presented like every year or whether something new is going to be included. The educational institution has already been closed for 15 months due to corona, a part of the students have already dropped out, a part will no longer come to school. The rest are not able to run education activities in a normal way. What should the education budget be like in this reality? If the coronary period is extended, one has to think of alternative teaching. It needs to think of virtual classes, online and digital labs and classrooms and implement it quickly. In order to do that, students need to take initiative to provide free low cost laptops, mobile data, purchase of Android phones. Arrange for online lecture or class uploads, online student attendance, purchase of number assignment software. Teachers need to be provided adequate training for online teaching. All these are associated with money and the budget needs to be formulated in the same way.

In addition to allocating money in the budget, there should also be direction of expenditure. The money received from any sector in the educational institution has to be deposited in the bank of the institution for keeping the account of deposit and expenditure and then it has to be spent by withdrawing the required amount. It will have bank deposit-withdrawal account. The chances of corruption will decrease. On 26 February 2021, Bangladesh has been recommended to move from a least developed country to a fully developing country. The government is working to achieve the SDG target in 2030, the developed country Sonar Bangla in 2041, the highest peak of prosperity on the 100th anniversary of independence in 2061, and the dream of achieving the Delta Plan in 2100. But we have to keep in mind that corruption must be stopped at all costs otherwise all development initiatives of the government will fail. If the thousands of crores of rupees that had been smuggled out of the country had remained in the country, it could now be spent on all kinds of emergency sectors, including education.

Extremely affected are about four and a half crore students and 5 million teachers from primary level to higher education level. The infrastructural damage of the long-closed educational institutions is not less. According to a survey conducted by the Mass Literacy Campaign, 31 per cent of the students have come under online and distance learning or teaching through radio, television, various online platforms and mobile phones. However, the demand of the Ministry of Education is 92 percent and the demand of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education is 75 percent of the students who are covered by television. The picture obtained from the PPRC and BIGD research is even more grim. Corona’s existence is in crisis in kindergarten schools in different neighborhoods. A part of these schools, which run on a small amount of capital in rented houses, have closed down. The children and students are amazed to see that the school where they used to study has disappeared overnight. M Iqbal Bahar Chowdhury, chairman of the Bangladesh Kindergarten School and College Unity Council, said there were about 75,000 kindergarten schools across the country. At least half of it was closed during the Corona period. Their teachers and staffs have survived without eating, eating at once. For the first time in the history of the country, there are no students in the first year in these universities. Because no university could admit any student in the 2020-21 academic year. It is also advisable to have in the budget instructions on how to attach it or bring it back to normal. Students who have passed the HSC examination through autopass last year are to be admitted in the first year. But due to Corona, the universities have not been able to take the admission test yet. If the admission process was completed on time, the classes of these students would have started from October-November last year.

Whatever is in the budget every year, it is said that the highest budget is in the education sector. This may be true in terms of size, but it remains to be seen whether it will have a visible impact on education change. Goodwill, sincerity and above all efficiency are more important than the size of the budget. And the proper planning, guidance and honesty involved with these. Only so much money will be spent in this sector, so much of this money will come from direct taxes, the rest will come from the donor community and so on. But you also have to have a strategy paper on how to spend money in no time. It must also be a safeguard against corruption. How is this possible? The concerned departments and ministries will send their respective issues, development, amendments, spending limits, nature of expenditure, methods and ways of prevention of corruption to the Ministry of Finance and each of its issues should be open to the public. The more things are hidden from the people, the more the people will be deceived. It is easy to show the High Court to the blind. But the right to open information is needed for real development. As you have made an application to a government department, you need to know who to do it with and how soon it will be resolved. If they do not know that, government officials and employees (who are basically servants of the people) will keep the people in the dark, the High Court will show, the service will be far-fetched. The state needs to know what its people will get from the state, when they will get it and how they will get it. If these issues are reported, there will be no gap between the state and the people, the service will be ensured. And if the service is ensured, a large part of the budget will be spent in the right way, in the desired way. Corruption will be reduced. This is a chain. One involves the other.

Mashum Billah: Teacher and writer.

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Source: Bhorer Kagoj by www.bhorerkagoj.com.

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