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Pre-Budget Discussion Meeting On Education, Human Resource Development and our Budget

CAMPE, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), and Education Watch jointly organized a Pre-Budget Discussion Meeting on "Lessons from Our National Budget for Education: Where Do We Stand" focusing on Education and Human Resource Development on Saturday, 23 April 2022 at the Spectra Convention Centre, Dhaka to emphasize the need to increase budget allocation as well as its proper and judicious utilization for ensuring access, equity and quality of education particularly focusing on COVID – 19 related recovery and response plans.

M. A. Mannan MP, Hon'ble Minister for Planning graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Aroma Dutta MP, Member, Committee on Government Assurances, Bangladesh Parliament was present as the Special Guest.

H.E. Mr. Javed Patel, High Commissioner (in-charge), British High Commission, Dhaka, Veera Mendonca, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Bangladesh Country Office, Hans Lambrecht, Ph.D., Co-chair, ELCG & First Secretary, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh and Principal Quazi Faruque Ahmed, Member, Education Policy 2010 formulation Committee attended in the consultation as Guests of Honor.

The Session was Chaired by Dr. Q. K. Ahmad, Hon’ble Chairman of the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) & Chairperson of Education Watch, and moderated by Rasheda K. Choudhury, Executive Director of CAMPE and Former Adviser to the Caretaker Government.

The major objective of the session was to listen to the grassroots' voices and experts’ reflections for increasing budget allocation as well as its proper and judicious utilization to ensure access, equity, and quality of education particularly focusing on COVID–19 related recovery and response plans as raised by the learners from different disadvantaged groups, representatives from civil society organizations, teachers, students, guardians and researchers who joined the meeting.

A total of 127 participants including concerned government officials, Education Watch, CAMPE Council, INGOs, development partners, and journalists actively participated in the consultation.

Muntaseer Kamal, Research Fellow of CPD, as the Key Note Presenter shared a brief analysis of the trends in allocation and lessons from our budget for education.

Major observations/comments from the guests and participants included the following:
• Allocate at least 20% of the national budget for ministries of education i.e MoPME & MoE and provide specific directives for better use of resources to ensure transparency and accountability;
• A large share of budget allocated for education is usually spent in March-June quarter, which poses challenges about making funds available in time and its proper use. Allocating funds in time and its judicious use is very crucial to get highest benefits from different initiatives;
• Separate allocations to support a two-three year education recovery and remedial plan implementation to recover the learning loss;
• Need to think about teachers’ capacity enhansment to overcome the challenges of COVID-19, increase access to training opportunities and continuous professional development. Facilitate full implementation of the ICT Master Plan including introduction of blended learning approaches;
• Provide adequate budget for making online and ICT-based learning and ensure ICT infrastructure, connectivity, broad-band access, availability of devices such as tablets, ed-tech support and ed-tech training for teachers. Plans should be made and implemented for all education institutions as free ‘wi-fi zone’ for students and teachers;
• Government to take time-befitting policies and allocate adequate funds to take advantage of the unique window of demographic dividend that Bangladesh is currently enjoying;;
• More budget allocation is required in the education sector for attracting talented human resources to improve quality of education;
• More investment in technical and vocational education and training (TVET). These institutions need to be modernized through developing capacity to manage market driven skills for assessment, job placement etc;
• Provision of 12 years of free, publicly funded, equitable quality primary and secondary education should be ensured as part of Education 2030 Framework for Action. As the first step primary education needs to be extended up to grade viii;
• Enhance coverage of school meal, increase the amount and coverage of stipends and also ensure timely disbursement of the stipend money;
• Institutionalize regular heath check-up at school and educational support for disadvantaged people especially children with special needs, street children, orphans, working children;
• Enough budgets should be allocated for quality research is important for planning implementation and monitoring. Quality and timely data collection analysis and use for decision making process as is critical.
• Collaboration, networking and partnership at national and sub national level among government agencies, academic institutions, experts, private sectors, UN agencies, development partners, NGOs, INGOs, CSOs, local community and media are essential to minimize the gaps for achiving equitable and quality education.

Finally, the chairperson concluded the meeting with his closing speech and expressed gratitude to all for their presence and contribution to the session.
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