A World Bank report published on Wednesday, reveals that the poor quality of learning leads children in Bangladesh to lose 4.5 years as they get 11 years of schooling to know the basic standard of reading and writing skills.
The report titled ‘The World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’. shows that 35 per cent of grade III students score too low to even be tested on reading comprehension in Bangla and only 25 per cent of grade V students in the country pass the minimum threshold in math.
WB identified lack of access to early childhood development programmes, low quality of teaching practices, challenges related to poor school management, and low levels of overall spending on public education for the sorry state of the primary education.
‘The country should address this learning crisis by investing more in education and investing more effectively’, it suggests.
State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam, however, expressed reservation about the WB finding about low levels of overall spending on public education.
While addressing the report launching ceremony at a city hotel, Alam said the annual expenditure on education increased fivefold from Tk 10,000 crore a decade ago.
He said that the allocation for education accounted 12 per cent of the current national budget and two per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
He, however, admitted that the government ealized that the quality of education should be enhanced.
He noted that as most of the country’s schools were private management, mostly dominated by family members, the government had to compromise many issues including quality education.
Describing various efforts taken by the present government in the last one decade, Alam said that the government had taken a move to appoint skilled and meritorious teachers in the primary level.
He said the WB report could help the government in policy making matter.
He called upon the WB to assist the government with implementation of projects on enhancing education quality.
Earlier, Bob Saum, WB country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, said Bangladesh was among the few countries to achieve gender parity in school enrolment with more girls in school than boys.
But the country needed investment in education to create a globally competitive workforce, he had noted.
Bangladesh’s share of public spending on education is lower than the South Asian average and about half of Malaysia’s share of spending on education, he added.
The WB report says many young students in Bangladesh, as in other low and middle-income countries, find it hard to get good jobs because they leave education without acquiring skills to read, write or do basic math.
While commenting on the report, Jaime Saavedra, WB senior director for education, noted that children from poor and vulnerable groups start to fall behind when they are six months old as they do not have the right to nutrition and proper stimulation.
These shortcomings have a large impact as children grow older and quality early childhood development programmes are fundamental and vital investments for Bangladesh to tackle the learning crisis, he said.
The WB report said attracting high-quality teachers, improving teaching and learning process and motivating children to come to school could help the country overcome the problems.