- Education

Higher education, downward budget amid upward enrolment

Higher-Education-300Budget allocation for higher education shrank over last five years affecting its quality and expansion as well as improvement of infrastructure and other facilities. Lower allocation for higher education has been negatively impacting research, recruitment of teachers, infrastructure, quality of education and professional skills, academics have said.

Standard of education in public universities has declined sharply in recent years while student enrolment doubled in the last seven years, say experts as well as a number of studies and global rankings. ‘The current allocation for higher education, which is less than 0.25 per cent of GDP, is insufficient, while many Asian and European countries spend .50 to 1.25 of their GDP on tertiary education,’ said University Grants Commission chairman AK Azad Chowdhury.

‘The purpose of higher education is to generate and innovate knowledge and at the same time to build up skilled manpower. In absence of an adequate budget, it is impossible to achieve such goals,’ said Dhaka University professor emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury.

The government has repeatedly claimed that it is giving utmost importance to the education sector. But in reality, non-development budgetary allocation for higher education has been reduced to 1.12 per cent in current 2014-15 fiscal from 1.26 per cent in 2010-11 fiscal in terms of percentage of total budget. In 2014-15 fiscal, higher education has been allocated Tk 1,749 crore out of the total non-development allocation of Tk 155,310 crore. In 2010-11 fiscal, total non-development budget was Tk 87,285 crore out of which higher education was allocated Tk 1,102 crore.

At present, there are 34 public and 80 private universities in the country. Low allocation has already pushed the UGC universities into financial constraints. Public universities are facing problems in arranging salaries of teachers and staffs and accommodation for students and teachers, said immediate past UGC chairman Nazrul Islam.

Former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Emajuddin Ahmed said higher education had been ‘hugely neglected’ by successive governments which led to dwindling research work, shrinking libraries and inadequate laboratories in the public universities. All four academics said that improvement of the standard of education was directly linked to adequate funding.

Serajul and Emajuddin said that absence of adequate budget was a major reason for decline in the standard of education. Not a single Bangladeshi university is among the top 700 universities in the world, according to Quacquarelli Symonds rankings of universities, as of July 2014.

Source: New Age

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