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Education Watch Study 2023

Education Watch Study 2023
The impact of school closures on learning has been devastating, and the education system has been severely affected due to the pandemic. UNESCO reports that schools in 188 countries have been closed, affecting 89.5 percent of all learners, or 1.5 billion students worldwide. Even before COVID-19, the world was grappling with a learning crisis. Over half of ten-year-olds in low-and middle-income countries could not read or understand a simple story (World Bank). This figure could now reach 70 percent due to lengthy school closures and a need for more effective remote learning opportunities.

In Bangladesh, schools remained closed due to the pandemic for more than 500 consecutive days, the longest in the world. During this long period, many children had minimal to no contact with the educators, did not have access to any classroom teaching-learning process, or were forced to drop out for various socio-economic reasons. Because of the loss of a whole school year, students have been promoted to the next grade and have yet to achieve their grade-level competencies. Achieving grade-level competencies and learning outcomes has been challenging despite a promising school enrollment rate.

The impact is likely devastating with already low learning outcomes, high dropout rates and low resilience to shock. The most vulnerable children and those unable to access remote learning were at increased risk of never returning to the classroom and even being forced into child marriage or child labour. A report showed that the long-standing closure ceased normal educational activities in the case of more than 90% of enrolled learners. School closures in Bangladesh from March 2020 to September 2021 and again in February 2022 have disrupted the education of around 37 million children. They have also exacerbated worrying gaps in basic literacy and numeracy skills before the pandemic began (UNICEF, 2021). The students affected by COVID-19 also included children from ethnic communities. A UNICEF 2021 report mentioned that about ‘56 per cent of students were not taking part in online lessons or Sangsad TV, which was ‘more evident among the students of ethnic minorities (75 per cent).’

In-person schooling has been resumed from March 2022 in Bangladesh following the regular routine. The good progress made in vaccinating post-primary age children makes it possible to restart schools in relative safety, though measures for health and safety still have to be maintained. A gradual attendance rate was expected upon the reopening of the class. But a newspaper report showed a rather sorry picture with the statistics on the first three weeks of the resumption of in-person classes as attendance has continued to fall almost every day and stood at 55% by September 2022. Another report revealed 62,104 secondary school students and 14,50,719 primary school-level students dropped out in the same period, according to the data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS) and the Directorate of Primary Education. According to the educationists, the increasing absenteeism from classes following the reopening of schools nationwide seeks immediate counteractive measures from the authorities.

A newspaper presented referring to the UNESCO 2021/2 Global Education Monitoring Report, that “the average expenditure on education increased by a staggering 80% in real terms.” The same report added, “Around 7% of families in Bangladesh have to borrow to send their children to school.” Another media report exposed that households in Bangladesh cover almost two-thirds of the total cost of education.

So, it is necessary to look at the issues of student attendance, irregularity, and dropout, as well as their causes, including the increased pocket expenditure on education. It should also look at the present teacher–student situation while coping with teaching and learning after a long gap in education and learning loss.

Considering the situation, CAMPE, the secretariat of Education Watch, has collaborated with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) under the Covid-19 Learning, Evidence and Research Program for Bangladesh (CLEAR) with the support of FCDO to conduct another study under Education Watch to be known as Education Watch Study 2023.

(1). Sample-based mapping of the students enrolled in 2020 at grades III, V, VI, and VIII and their present attendance status;
(2). Discuss plans and activities to support teachers and schools as part of the recovery and remedial plan, including the preparation and progress made towards a ‘blended’ approach and teacher-student situation while coping with teaching and learning after a long gap.
(3). Explore the scenario of the out-of-pocket expenditure on primary and secondary education.
(4). Assess the learning loss and gap status of primary and secondary students using secondary data focusing on Bangla and Maths at the primary level and Bangla, English, Maths and Science at the secondary level.

The study will bring onboard experts with diverse expertise in education and relevant areas who can contribute to delivering the outputs. The team will include technical experts in the education sector, including those dealing with COVID-19 and education in emergency issues.

The study will follow the mixed method of research comprising both qualitative and quantitative techniques. The nationwide sampling will cover geographical diversity (rural and urban, including char, haor, tea garden, hilly area, low-lying areas, and urban slums) and ethnicity. The approximate sample size would be 6,125 respondents. Data will be collected through a structured questionnaire survey complemented by FGDs, KIIs, stakeholder workshops, case studies and field-level observation. The respondents will be primary and secondary-level students, teachers, parents, government officials, and members of civil society.

Geographical Location and Segments
Data will be collected from selected districts and Upazilas covering all country divisions. The respective districts are: Dhaka, Chattogram, Narayanganj, Rajshahi, Jashore, Meherpur, Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Moulavibazar, Hobiganj, Naogaon, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Barisal and Bhola.

(1). A comprehensive research report (English) is comprised of a rigorous analysis of data, relevant findings, and recommendations regarding policy, action priorities, and advocacy.
(2). A popular version will be prepared in English and Bangla based on the extended overview with some graphical presentation. Both electronic and printed reports (main report and popular version) will be available for wider dissemination.
(3). Policy briefs and working papers will be produced based on compiling existing data on learning loss status and recovery plan.

The study ensures the security of the participants with no-harm principles. It respects the diversity of the participants. Regarding safeguarding information, the research team will practice standard data and information protection protocols and use them only for the research and project. Respondents will be appropriately informed of their consent to participation, and confidentiality of respondents’ personal information will be ensured.

Considering the potential concerns related to data protection and security of research participants, CAMPE will ensure the research ethics and follow its internal and legal ethical standards under data protection practice. It will also approach the Institute of Health Economics (IHE) under the University of Dhaka for ethical review approval.

The report will be launched at public events in the presence of policymakers, followed by advocacy work with the reports through the CAMPE network and media and communication strategy. It will establish a stakeholder relationship from micro to macro. The key strategy of this relationship would be evidence generation, knowledge sharing, and networking.

CAMPE will engage the relevant stakeholders, i.e. relevant government officials, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Directorate of Primary Education, Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, Bureau of Non-formal Education and representatives of Teacher Associations, CSOs, representatives from media, researchers, academics and others including Education Watch Group Member, technical expert group member, advisory group members etc.

7. Project Duration
15 December 2022 - 14 December 2023.

8. Total Budget
GBP: 99,999

9. Focal Person
Dr. Mostafizur Rahaman
Deputy Director
Cell: +8801711487942