National Sharing Meeting on the Findings of the Monitoring on Govt Budget Allocation and Impact on Girls’ Education
SUPRO shared the findings of the Grassroots Monitoring on Govt. Budget Allocation and Impact on Girls’ Education through a National Consultation meeting held on 13 December 2009, at the Conference hall of National Press Club Dhaka. Members of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Principal Md. Shah Alam and Advocate Biren Sikdar, were present at the meeting as special guests where Professor Sourov Sikdar of Dhaka University and Khawaja Mainuddin, Special Correspondent of the New Age were present as discussants. Representatives of the districts under the said monitoring initiative were also present and shared their experience while doing the field work.
With the objective of finding out the grass roots picture on utilisation of budget allocation for girls’ students and assessing the progress on achieving relevant MDGs-(MDG 2- Achieve Universal Primary Education and MDG 3- Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women) SUPRO conducted the study in 12 primary schools and 12 secondary schools situated in 12 districts of 6 backward regions, such as, char, haor, monga and coastal belt. The districts under the study included Tangail, Jamalpur, Netrokona, Pabna, Bogra, Borguna, Pirojpur, Satkhira, Thakurgaon, Shariatpur, Rangamati and Jhenaidah.
The findings of the monitoring disclosed that despite special incentives of the government on encouraging education, the progress picture is not satisfactory. Though enrolment rate has increased both at primary and secondary level, completion rate is quite disappointing.
In the schools under said survey, it has been found that at primary level, less than half of the boys and girls have completed the primary schools while the picture is gloomier at the secondary level as about less than one-third of the boys and less than one-fourth of the girls have completed the secondary school.
The reports and statistics from the field illustrate that neither girls nor boys are receiving an education of an acceptable standard. Besides, as a result of low academic achievement, there is little scope for developing relevant life skills. Although many girls do continue with secondary school, their low competency levels put them at a disadvantage from the very beginning of the secondary cycle. For girls, because of the gender discrimination they already face, poor quality education doubly disadvantages them.
More or less, all the surveyors find that the students who belong to poorer section in society or live in the socio-economically disadvantaged areas experience difficulties pursuing education without any interruption. The schools do not have adequate facilities for physically challenged students who are by and large deprived of basic education for which the government is pledged-bound.
In all the findings, early marriage and feeling of insecurity are cited as barrier to continuing education for girls. Poverty, sense of insecurity and lack of sensitivity on women’s rights are the causes of child marriage.
Though the stipend has increased the enrolment of the students both at primary level and secondary level, certain concerns have been raised by the respondents as to the success of the system. At primary level, stipends are given to 40% poor students but subject to fulfilling the conditions of 85% attendance and 40% marks in the examination. The set criteria is defective in the sense that most often many poor students remain left out of the stipend as only 40% poor students are selected for stipends. Moreover many poor students are deprived of the stipend because of their poor results in the examinations. In fact, quality of teaching in the classrooms is very poor and those who have failed to obtain stipend are poor and cannot afford private tutors.
Almost all the respondents have said that the money given to a student is not enough to bear all educational expenses, especially in the secondary levels. It has been suggested from all the districts that the government should increase the amount of the stipend and it should be distributed among all the poor students so that they feel encouraged to join the class and do not drop out. There are also instances of irregularities and corruption in distributing the fund.
The recommendations of the respondents include among others, increasing the amount and coverage of stipend program, ensuring efficient school managing committees and recruitment of skilled and qualified teachers, increasing pay and perks of the teachers, inclusion of topic on human rights and women’s rights in text books and education curriculum, introduce a national integrated academic calendar concerning all education provider, stakeholders and agencies and suitable for socio economically deprived regions, improve the communication system, strong and continuous campaign on gender issues and women’s rights, ensure employment for the jobless population and take measures for socio economic advancement of the disadvantaged people, ensure unitrack education in primary level up to class V and stop privatization of education and ensure education for all under state management and responsibility and ensure accountability, transparency of education financing from granting authority to spending entity.