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Meaningful GO-NGO collaboration can pave the way for achieving SDGs highlighted in the National Consultation on SDG4 Strategic Framework for Bangladesh

Meaningful GO-NGO collaboration can pave the way for achieving SDGs, says Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Principal Coordinator, SDG Affairs, Prime Minister’s office while speaking as the Chief Guest at a National Consultation on SDG4 Strategic Framework for Bangladesh, organized jointly by CAMPE and UNESCO under the leadership of Ministry of Education (MoE) and Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME), on Saturday, 06 April 2019 at Hotel InterContinental, Dhaka. He emphasised the importance of education for achieving all Sustainable Development Goals particularly for developing the human capital not only to contribute to national economy but also to create an enlightened society. With regard to the opportunities ahead, higher rate of returns from the migrant workers for capitalising on the blue economy and attracting foreign investment, Bangladesh needs highly qualified and technically capable human resource from the education system, he opened. Preparation of the SDG4 Strategic Framework is a unique initiative and has provided thoughtful insights and a collective process that can be replicated by other ministries to foster the achievement of SDGs in Bangladesh. He appreciated the spirit of partnership and collaborative efforts of MoE, MoPME, Bangladesh National Commission for UNESCO (BNCU), CAMPE and UNESCO.

Md. Sohorab Hossain, Senior Secretary, Secondary and Higher Education Division (SHED) and the Special Guest of the session stated that “education is the basic right for all and we know primary school is an entry point in our education system, so we should ensure universal, quality, primary education for all children regardless of gender, ability, religion, location or their family's wealth”. He added that progress on many of the EFA and MDGs were visible made in Bangladesh. As a signatory to the SDGs, Bangladesh is committed to work towards achieving the SDG 2030 agenda including SDG4 on education. In this regard a number of initiatives have been taken with the guidance of the Principal Coordinator for SDG Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Md. Alamgir, Secretary, Technical and Madrasa Education Division (TMED) and another Special Guest of the session emphasised on prioritisation of needs in education, strengthening of research initiatives and efficient use of resources. He stressed the importance of technical and vocational education for quick transition from school to the world of work. The session was chaired and moderated by Rasheda K. Choudhury, Executive Director, CAMPE. She focused on ensuring adequate investment in education and its judicious use particularly for improving quality of education. She added that Government should increase allocation of budget for independent, credible research.

Shyamol Kanti Ghosh, Former Secretary, Government of Bangladesh and the Lead Consultant for the initiative shared the context, importance and process while Dr. Zia Us Sabur, Consultant shared the salient features of the SDG4 Strategic Framework for Bangladesh. Key findings and recommendations of the report (draft) included the following:

• Public exams in secondary and higher secondary level and Learning Assessment for Secondary Institutions (LASI) should be linked with learning objectives and competencies;
• Equal facilities for all types of schools should be ensured. All government schools should progressively become a single shift. In the long run, minimum learning conditions for running schools need to be ensured;
• All disadvantaged people especially children with special needs, street children, orphans, working children, those belonging to ethnic groups, and children in hard to reach areas should have access to education;
• Quality of non-state schools is a major concern. Government support and supervision under a given framework should be considered for them;
• Needs of subject-based teachers and the teacher-student ratio should be considered;
• Issues related to Non-MPO secondary schools and the measures related to improve their quality should be addressed;
• Expansion of school meal with the aim of extending the school timing with a priority to disadvantaged areas and populations is needed;
• Increasing investment in education gradually to at least 4-6% of GDP or 15-20% of the national budget must be considered;
• TVET delivery institutions ought to be modernized through developing capacity to conduct market skills demand assessment, developing vocational skills and through providing job placement along with post training support;
• A hard-nosed review of the existing vocational stream in secondary schools, which is not working in terms of quality and market needs, is necessary in order to find a workable approach to low and middle level vocational and technical education;
• Adult education, literacy and lifelong learning for life and work through a nationwide network of community learning centers (CLCs) should be planned and implemented in close cooperation with local government, NGOs and community organizations;
• Values education/ Global Citizenship Education needs to be incorporated in teaching and learning;
• Promotion of democratic and secular principles through specific interventions should be considered.

Three representatives from the Technical Committee of SDG4 Strategic Framework for Bangladesh, Mr. Mahmud ul Haque, Ghiasuddin Ahmed and Monjur Hossain shared their views on lifelong learning, curriculum, quality of teacher, budget and ODA commitments.
The presentation by the consultants and remarks by the Technical Committee members were followed by a lively open discussion, participated by representatives from concerned Government agencies, members of Steering and Technical Committees for SDG4-SF, development partners, civil society representatives, Education Watch Group Members, representatives from NGOs, academia, teachers, researchers, development practitioners and media.

The SDG4 SF has been developed jointly by BNCU, CAMPE and UNESCO under the leadership of Ministry of Education (MoE) and Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME) of the Government of Bangladesh.

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