Special allocation in the upcoming national budget for the Fiscal Year 2020-21 was demanded to initiate an education recovery programme for making up the losses incurred in the education sector for the COVID-19 outbreak at a programme held on Wednesday.
Educationists, think tanks and NGO activists at the webinar organised by Campaign for Popular Education demanded special allocation in the budget for the immediate and three-year-long interventions to tackle the anticipated increase of dropout, ensuring payment of non-government teachers and developing facilities for meeting such crises in future.
They demanded enhancement of the stipend from Tk 150 to Tk 300 for each students, increase of the coverage of the midday meal at the schools and more social safety-net and incentive coverage for bringing back all students to the schools.
‘In the coming FY we demand at least 15 per cent allocation of the national budget for the education sector for taking immediate and three-year-long intervention programmes,’ CAMPE executive director Rasheda K Chowdhury said.
Otherwise, she said, there would be an increase in dropouts which would contribute to the rise various other social problems like enhancement of the child labour, early marriage and others.
If required, she said, the government should cut allocation from the development programmes such as developing power plants and allocate the fund for education, health and social safety net programmes.
‘Mega development projects don’t have urgency. But if the education and health sectors collapse, the nation will suffer,’ she said.
‘We must address the dropout crisis, besides continuing to facilitate lessons to a wider range of the pupils using different modes and apps. We must also develop the quality of education,’ she added.
The allocation in education in the last national budget was 11.62 per cent when the present dropout rate at the primary level was 18 per cent and at the secondary level the rate was at 40 per cent, government officials said.
BRAC University professor emeritus Manzoor Ahmed demanded proper utilisation of the allocated budget at a time when poverty line was on the rise.
‘Over the years we saw a significant amount of money refunded by the ministries and agencies for not being able to use those,’ said Manzoor, who is also a vice-president of the CAMPE.
He also demanded a block allocation of Tk 500 crore in the national budget for mitigating emergency crises created in the education sector.
‘Simultaneously, we must take preparations following the WHO and UNICEF guidelines for opening education institutes,’ he suggested adding that the class duration should also be increased for making up the losses.
Centre for Policy Dialogue research director Khandokar Golam Moazzem said that the services of the NGOs in the education would reduce for shortage of fund amid the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Non-government schools will also face troubles to continue operations. So the government must address all these issues,’ he said.
BRAC education programme director Shafiqul Islam demanded more budget allocation for non-formal education.
Rasheda K Chowdhury also demanded an immediate announcement cancelling undesired primary education completion examination and junior school examination for easing tensions of the pupils and their parents.
Directorate of primary education director general Md Fashiullah told New Age on Wednesday that the government was taking all necessary programmes for mitigating COVID-19-induced crises.
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