TEACHER quality matters. The curriculum, reduced class size or better student-teacher ratio, and family and community involvement all contribute to improvement in education and student achievement, yet teacher remains the most influential factor in education. It is in this context that participants in a discussion on the ‘Next budget and education sector: our expectations’ that the Movement for World Education Rights organised at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Wednesday urged the managers of national education to appoint skilled, effective teachers in educational institutions of all levels, right from the primary to the tertiary level. But teachers can hardly be effective in their early years of teaching as they need to learn by doing over a period. The government should, therefore, create a situation where people with merit and interest could be recruited as teachers and then be allowed to earn the needed skills and become effective teachers. In doing so, the government should keep off politicising teacher recruitment at all levels, and more at the tertiary level, and rather give preference to merit. The politicisation of teacher recruitment almost always leave merit as the casualty. This holds true mostly in the case of teacher recruitment at the tertiary level.
In the programme that academics, education rights advocates and government functionaries attended, the participants also talked about the negligence that teachers at all levels face in Bangladesh. The government should make more investments in education to resolve this problem. The government’s current allocation for the education sector, keeping to education ministry documents, is about 11.41 per cent of the national budget outlay, which accounts for 2.2 per cent of the gross domestic product. The participants in the programme, therefore, demanded that the allocation should be increased to 25 per cent of the budget or 7 per cent of the gross domestic product, which again many think is not achievable in view of the limited resources. The education minister who attended the programme said that the government would increase the allocation for the education sector to 4 per cent of the gross domestic product. But the governments needs to increase the allocation for the education sector more as an increased investment in education can make citizens worthy on all counts. The government should remember that not only should the total allocation for the sector increase but the allocation as percentage of the gross domestic product should also gradually register an increase. What the government also needs to ensure is that the spending on education remains free of corruption and the money is used wherever it is needed in a judicious way.
The government, under the circumstances, must shore up a number of issues on a number of fronts to increase the quality of teaching and make teachers effective at all levels of education. The government must increase spending in education, use the money properly, create facilities for teachers to earn the required skills to turn them into effective teachers.
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