Written By: Ariful Hasan Shuvo
Being fatally hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the education sector demanded special attention in the national budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year as it was the first budget announcement after the pandemic ebbed. The little increment in allocation for the education sector is not satisfying to experts as it fails to fight back the pandemic losses.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal allocated Tk 81,449 crore for the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Secondary and Higher Education Division, and Technical and Madrasa Education Division, for this fiscal year. The allocation is divided by Tk 31,761 crore, Tk 39,961 crore, and Tk 9,727 crore for the three divisions respectively.
The budget allocation for the education sector was Tk 71,954 crore for the outgoing fiscal year. Though it increased in total budget, however, it has been reduced in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The allocation for the education sector is only 1.83 percent of GDP, which is much lower than any other South Asian country. It was 2.08 percent in the previous budget. UNESCO prescribes spending 6 percent of GDP and 20 percent of the national budget on the education sector of any economy.
It is to note that the government announced a 20 crore TK education grants for the poor and meritorious students. This is appreciable; however, the plan must be implemented effectively.
Throughout the pandemic period, the school-going students had been harmed the most. Economic think tank SANEM reported that one-third of them might never come back to education. Published in October 2021, a joint study by PPRC and BIGD says that 3.96 million primary and 3.9 million secondary students – a total of 7.86 million students were at risk of learning loss during that time.
But there is no government research to find accurate data and initiatives to make up for the losses. There is no road map for pre-primary level education and the budget also neglected TMED (Technical and Madrasa Education Division) despite leaving a buzz about its modernization.
On the other hand, in terms of tertiary education, the scenario is similar. Proposed budgets for different public universities are not adequate or research-friendly.
University Grants Commission (UGC) proposed budgets for 51 public universities last month. Dhaka University got the highest allocation (864.94 crores), followed by Rajshahi University (456.75 crores), Chittagong University (378.48 crores), Jahangirnagar University (279.13 crores), and so on. However, these are outliers, and allocations for most of the rest are under a hundred crore Tk only. Quality education must be prioritized over the number of universities in the country.
Dhaka University has already announced its own proposed budget of 922.48 crores Tk while only 15 crores, being 1.63 percent of it, is allocated for research.
According to The Daily Star, UGC also approved Tk 150 crore for research this fiscal year. The figure increased by Tk 32 crore in comparison to the last fiscal year. This year, Tk 10 crore was allocated to facilitate teachers getting higher degrees from abroad. This is appreciable but scholarship opportunities for graduate students should be expanded.
The government continues to impose a 15% tax on private universities, private medical and dental colleges, private engineering colleges, or private colleges solely dedicated to imparting education on ICT. It may lead to an increment in tuition fees and leave a financial burden on the students’ shoulders.
The government shared a plan to set up an ‘employment bank’ and internship programs for new graduates in last year’s budget proposal. However, this year’s proposed budget shared no update on that.
Many people lost their jobs during the pandemic period, leaving the job market more competitive than ever. This year’s budget should have addressed proper planning for job creation but it fails to do so. If we can’t ensure job security for our own educated people in the country, then we can’t utilize the manpower, rather suffer from brain drain only.
- Education in Budget 2022-23: Small mercies and dashed hopes_ The Daily Star
- Education budget in FY23: What needs to be addressed? _ The Financial Express
- Education budget FY22: Many promises remain unfulfilled _The Business Standard
- Experts: Education budget fails to address learning losses_ Dhaka Tribune
- Nothing to make up for learning loss_ The Daily Star
- শিক্ষায় বরাদ্দের হার বাড়ছে সামান্যই, সন্তুষ্ট নন সংশ্লিষ্টরা _ প্রথম আলো
- শিক্ষা বাজেট ও বাস্তবতা _ সমকাল
- ঢাবিতে নতুন অর্থবছরে বাজেট বাড়ছে ১০০ কোটি টাকা, গবেষণায় বরাদ্দ ১.৬৩% _প্রথম আলো
- কোন বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় কত টাকা পাচ্ছে _ বণিক বার্তা
- Job creation: an empty promise _ The Daily Star
The writer is an Associate Editor of YPF Content & Bangla Editorial Team.
Featured Image Courtesy: World Bank