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Wasim Bin Habib
Although budgetary allocation for education sector has increased over the years, the share of this budget as percentage of the total budget and the GDP (gross domestic product) is witnessing a declining trend for the last four years.
With Tk 21,408 crore being allocated for this sector in 2012-13 fiscal year, education gets the second largest allocation after public administration, but the percentage of the allocation declined to 11.2 per cent from 15.4 per cent in the actual budget of 2009-10, data shows.
In the actual budget of 2010-11, the percentage was 14.4 and it slid to 11.4 percent in the revised budget of 2011-12, it adds.
Besides, the allocation in this sector in terms of GDP is hovering around 2 percent in the last few years which indicate that investment in this sector is declining in proportion to overall national growth.
Experts, however, suggest that the government should increase budgetary allocation in social sectors like education, putting less emphasis on unproductive areas for effective development of the country.
Education is one of the best cost-effective means for increasing human capital, reducing poverty and achieving sustainable economic growth and development, they said, recommending for allocating at least four percent of GDP in education sector with effective utilisation of the money.
A joint study of Unnayan Shamannay and UNICEF, Bangladesh said the size of the total budget on an average grew annually at 28.7 percent while the education budget increased at 20.1 percent per annum between 2008-09 and 2012-13 fiscal years.
This relatively low growth, if not addressed in 2013-2014 fiscal year might signal a waning commitment to education in budget allocation, it said.
The study also said though development budget on education increased proportionately in provisional budget of 2012-13 but non-development budget moved upward in previous years in both actual and revised budgets.
The growth per child in national education budget has been fluctuating yet significantly lower than the per capita national budget growth, it said, suggesting that education budget per child should grow at least, at the similar rate of per capita national budget growth.
Primary education is most important for consolidating the foundation of child education, but the share of primary education budget witnessed fluctuation and ranged from around 42 to 46 percent of total education budget from 2009-10 to 2012-13, with a negative growth in 2011-12, it added.
“The budgetary allocation is not adequate compared to other South Asian and developing countries in the world,” said Dr Manzoor Ahmed, Senior Adviser, Institute of Educational Development at BRAC University.
He said with inflation continuing to rise and expansion of the sector including increase in students’ number, per child education budget has decreased in the last few years.
The developing countries which have put education at the top of the policy agenda allocated at least 5 to 6 percent of GDP for education sector, said Dr Manzoor, adding, “The allocation in country’s education sector should be, at least, doubled in terms of GDP and 20 percent of the total budget.”
And, proper utilisation of the allocation is a must to get desired result in education, he added.
He suggested putting more focus on qualitative aspect rather than giving stipends as awareness on education has grown among people. For that, he said, special incentives along with midday meal should be provided to retain students.
Similarly teachers should be motivated and given performance based incentives and other facilities to ensure quality education, Dr Manzoor said.