Education Quality Key to Bangladesh’s Goal to Become Middle Income Country


Bangladesh needs to focus on high-quality learning, and strong foundational cognitive and behavioral skills from early childhood, says a new World Bank report “Seeding Fertile Ground: Education That Works for Bangladesh”.

The findings and recommendations of the report were discussed today at a national dialogue organized by the Campaign for Popular Organization (CAMPE). Today’s event was preceded by six divisional workshops. The report, which focuses on access and equity, quality and skills, was prepared under the guidance of two advisory groups drawn from the members of civil society, the government, academia, think-tanks and development partners in Bangladesh.

The report praises Bangladesh’s success in improving access to education and completion at all levels, despite daunting challenges. Bangladesh achieved gender equity in primary and secondary education well ahead of the 2015 Millennium Development Goal. About 76% of youth aged 15-19 completed primary education in 2010. Progress in education has paved the way for an increasing number of women to enter the labor market, bolstering the country’s manufacturing production.

“With more youth entering the working age population, Bangladesh is poised to benefit from a demographic dividend in the next 10 years,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “To reap the benefits of demographic changes, Bangladesh will need policies that create higher-skilled jobs with higher wages. By improving education quality and skills development, the country can link its youth to productive employment in local or overseas job markets.”

Although the country has succeeded in expanding access to education, learning is currently low and unequal. Only a limited number of students remain competent in their respective grades. An assessment of literacy and numeracy at grade 5 indicates that only 25 percent of grade 5 students master Bangla competencies, and only 33 percent master Mathematics. Students with low levels of learning at lower grades are most at risk for dropping out and are most likely to join the informal labor market.

An important determinant of learning within the school is the quality of the teachers. Studies show that many teachers lack adequate training and career progression opportunities. Lack of knowledge about subjects and overemphasis on rote-learning than encouraging creative thinking and problem-solving skills further affects students’ learning.

Bangladesh’s current momentum in improving education can be harnessed for greater advances, states the report. Understanding the complexity and interrelated nature of education quality, skills development, and the labor market will aid in policy planning. The country needs to shift and strengthen the focus on education relevant to the labor market and on the quality of education.

In both the formal and informal labor markets, possessing strong cognitive skills, along with positive behavioral skills, can lead to better jobs and career advancement. Improving skills and productivity are crucial for Bangladesh to achieve middle income status. Currently, most of the labor force is in informal sector and possess low levels of education – 96 percent of workers have up to a secondary education, and less than 5 percent of the workforce has a tertiary education.

The report emphasizes that skill development is incremental, cumulative and transformational. A good skills-development policy recognizes that skills are not built at a certain time in an individual’s life – skills development is an incremental and lifelong process, acquired through formal and non-formal education, from pre-primary through higher education, networks, jobs, and other means.

Source: The world bank

Bangladesh on alert over fruits sprayed with deadly chemical


Bangladeshi police are to set up check posts at the main entry points to the capital Dhaka to prevent the import of fruits which have been sprayed with alarming levels of a deadly chemical, officers said Monday.

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) unveiled the move after it found high levels of formalin, an illegal chemical which is sometimes used as a preservative and disinfectant, in almost all the fruits it checked in Dhaka’s markets, DMP spokesman Masudur Rahman said.

“The check posts will be set up from June 11 at eight entry points of the city.
Armed with formalin detection kits, our officers and magistrates will check every lorry carrying fruits to the capital,” he said.
Anyone found to have carried formalin-laced fruits could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to 200,000 taka ($2,531), he said.

A huge public outcry over formalin-mixed fruits prompted the “unprecedented” police move, as repeated tests by laboratories and food inspectors have found fruits sold in Bangladesh contain an “alarming level of formalin” in an effort to extend their shelf life.

On Sunday, Dhaka’s police chief Benazir Ahmed equated the situation to an attempt at slow poison mass killing and pleaded with residents “not to get involved with buying, selling or consuming formalin contaminated fruits.”
His comments echoed those of civic and doctors’ groups who said Bangladesh was on the verge of a massive health crisis as reflected in a rising number of kidney and cancer patients, with toxic chemical-mixed food items playing a key role.
Rahman said fruits could naturally contain 0.03-0.15 ppm (part per million) level of formalin, but during inspection in Dhaka’s markets police found the level between 3.5 ppm to 46 ppm.

“It’s a extremely dangerous situation. This level of formalin mixed in fruits can kill a lot of people,” said Rahman.
Police concern was also partly sparked by a two-year-long test by a government health laboratory which found an unprecedented level of adulteration of other food items.

The Institute of Public Health (IPH) has conducted the test on 10,289 samples of 50 items and found that 47 items were adulterated, according to mass-circulated The Daily Star.

The items include edible oil, spices, sweets, milk products, lentils, pulses, juices, pickles, biscuits, jellies, dried fish, flours and tea leaves.

Source: arab news