Academics and economists have termed immoral the government policy of showing the allocation for education sector in the proposed budget as the highest by listing under the sector technology-driven development projects including the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.
They said that such government policy was flawed while there had been a long-standing demand for separate allocation for the education sector alone in the national budget.
Dhaka University’s professor emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury told New Age on Monday that there was no justification for showing together the budgetary allocation for the education sector and those for non-educational development projects.
He noted that there was an urgent need for higher allocation for the education sector and for its proper utilisation to attain the sustainable development goals.
The combined allocation for education and technology has been shown to be 15.2 per cent of the total proposed budget layout of Tk 5,23,190 crore, higher than for transport and communication (12.2 per cent) and for payment of interests on government borrowing (10.9 per cent).
A senior finance ministry official said that showing the total money for education and technology as a combined allocation was nothing new and it topped the allocation list in the proposed budget as there was a substantial amount set for implementing the Rooppur Nuclear Plant.
In the outgoing fiscal year, the combined allocation for education and technology accounts for 14.6 per cent of the original budget layout of Tk 4,64,573 crore and is the second highest behind the public administration.
Former caretaker government adviser Mirza Azizul Islam said that the government should not have included the allocation for the Rooppur Plant in the fund for the education sector.
‘The power plant will generate electricity,’ he pointed out.
Anu Muhammad, member-secretary of the national committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, power and ports, said that it was unfortunate for the nation to see that the money for the controversial Rooppur power project was shown under the education sector.
He lamented that the present government had long been indulging in such practices, which had been showing ‘training of public officers and employees’ in the allocation for the education sector.
‘There should be an end to such practices,’ he viewed.
Academics and economists noted that the quality of education now was under severe criticism as it was fast declining, resenting that it would go down further because the government was trying to camouflage the low allocation for the education sector.
They further pointed out that even the combined allocation for education and technology in the proposed budget was less than 3 per cent of the gross domestic product, whereas the education sector allocation alone should be at least 5 per cent of the GDP as per the global standard.
Bangladesh spends the lowest on education in the South Asia region, according to Dhaka University teacher Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir.
In the 2016-17 fiscal year, the allocation for the education sector in Bangladesh was 1.54 per cent of the GDP, compared to 3.08 per cent in India, 2.67 per cent In Pakistan, 3.93 per cent in Afghanistan, 4.25 per cent in the Maldives, 5.10 per cent in Nepal and 2.81 per cent in Sri Lanka.
Professor Mohammad Kaykobad of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology regretted that none of the education policies prepared so far, including the latest one formulated under the present government, was implemented.
He noted that the current government policy on the country’s education sector would not improve the quality of education standard.
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