The budgetary allocation for the development of education in the 2020-21 fiscal has increased slightly, but not enough to recover the loss being inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic, educationalists said.
Terming the proposed allocation in the education sector as conventional, educationalists and experts urged the government for proper utilization of funds in this sector.
The government has proposed Tk 66,401 crore for the education sector, which is 11.7 percent of the total expenditure in the FY 2020-21.
Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Dhaka AAMS Arefin Siddique told Bangladesh Post, “We always urge the government to prioritize the country’s education and health sectors. Government also gives the highest allocation for the education sector. The proposed budget for the education sector has been made in accordance with those of developing countries. As a developing country, we cannot say it is little.”
He also said, “We know the entire world has been suffering a lot for the coronavirus outbreak. The government may have tried, but it was not possible to give the expected allocation for the fund crisis. The allocation which has been proposed, should be properly utilized. We do not want to see any irregularities, and corruption regarding distribution of funds.”
This year, experts were hoping that the budget would address the probable rise in dropout cases due to fresh poverty caused by the impacts of Covid-19 and child marriages, but their hopes were not fulfilled in the budget.
Educationist Syed Manjurul Islam, a senior professor at Dhaka University, told Bangladesh Post, “It has been proposed to increase the allocation in the education sector by several thousand crores along with the size of the budget. But, the rate at which I expected the increase for education did not happen.”
He said, “It was necessary to pay special attention to education this time more than at other times. There was a need to allocate large sums of money for the development of technological systems to emphasize online management of educational activities, including incentives for teachers and students suffering due to the coronavirus, but that did not happen.”
“We had also demanded that the amount of stipend be increased from Tk150 to Tk300 at the primary level. But it has not been reflected in the budget. It was important to allocate at least 15 percent of the total outlay. Unfortunately, the allocation is still below 12 percent,” he added.
On the other hand, Rasheda K Chowdhury, an adviser to a former caretaker government said, “The budget for education is conventional. There could have been a special allocation to compensate for the Corona crisis in the education sector. But it did not happen.”
“Many students are missing out on learning now, and a good number of them will be irregular at schools. This will increase child labor and child marriage,” said Rasheda, also an executive director of Campaign for Popular Education.
“Private school-college and kindergarten schools will suffer. Many non-MPO Honors-Masters colleges will face loss, and ultimately, the students,” she added.
Of the total education budget, Tk 33,117 crore has been allocated for the Secondary and Higher Education Division, Tk8,344 crore for Technical and Madrasa Division, and Tk24,940 crore for Primary and Mass Education Ministry.
In the previous fiscal, Tk 24,040 crore was for the Primary and Mass Education Ministry, Tk 29,624 crore for the Secondary and Higher Education Division and Tk7,450 crore for the Technical and Madrasa Division.
The Secondary and Higher Education Division has got a Tk 11,865 crore development budget, which was Tk 9,150 crore in the outgoing fiscal year.
The allocation is Tk 9,404 crore for the Primary and Mass Education Ministry, which was Tk 9,016 crore in the outgoing year.
Meanwhile, the development allocation for Technical and Madrasa Division is Tk1976 crore, which was Tk 1,355 crore in the outgoing fiscal year.