To build a better future for all, the government in Dhaka will have to think about how to ensure inclusive education for all in the country, writes Minhazur Rahman Rezvi for South Asia Monitor.
By Minhazur Rahman Rezvi
Education never measures humans according to social class systems but by lack of opportunities. A large number of people in Bangladesh have been deprived of the light of knowledge due to lack of opportunities and economic support – and among them a majority are disabled and poor. The rate of dropouts from a certain kind of background is higher in developing countries than in developed countries. Significantly, the rate of dropouts is at extreme levels in the Indian subcontinent.
Bangladesh, also part of the Indian subcontinent, is a densely populated country and a good proportion of its citizens are deprived of education. The population of Bangladesh is around 16 crore, but only 70 per cent of its people are educated. Among them, the most excluded people are girls, disabled and the poor. Poverty, religious and social restrictions and unfriendly environment are the main reasons for the pervading illiteracy.
Educated people are an asset for any country. Education shows the light of development for driving forward. When a vast number of people are illiterate, the country remains in darkness. In Bangladesh, only affluent people are able to get educational opportunities.
In Bangladesh, girls are deprived of education or higher education because of religious restrictions and social opposition or blind superstition. People believe that girls do not need education and are solely for performing household activities.
The number of female students in public university is 181,450 out of a total 493,110 scholars -- only 31.80 per cent. The government has to increase awareness among people about education for women and also provide financial aid for girls’ educations.
According to Napoleon: "Give me an educated mother, I will give you an educated nation."
We, as society, also need to show concern about female rights, especially about education which is the basis for all kinds of rights. Without female education, the nation cannot prosper and rise from underdevelopment because the ratio of females is half of the total population.
Poverty, child marriage, high-priced note-guide books, compulsory coaching and weak teaching system are responsible for the failure to bring down the dropout rates. As per information collected from 38,757 educational institutions across the country last year, a whopping 40.29 per cent of secondary students (of which 45.92 per cent were girls) dropped out last year -- of these, 19.11 per cent left school when they were in Class VIII. (Bangladesh Education Statistics-2015).
Though the government distributes free textbooks at a cost to it of millions of dollars, and also runs school feeding programmes, the dropout rate is causing concern. Besides, indigenous people and disabled children are deprived from educational facilities.
“Protection of the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2013” was passed with a view to ensuring the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. But the disabled are not getting their rights -- and though their applications are not rejected by educational institutions, they do not get materials like Braille books or recording facilities.
Inclusive education discusses education for all. Inclusive education looks to addressing the learning requirements of all children, young citizens and adults, with an explicit focus on those who are susceptible to marginalisation and exclusion. Inclusive and quality education is that where equal opportunities exist for people whether one is disabled or poor.
Education is not only for those people who are capable or rich -- education is for all. This term provides for disabled children, street and working children, children from isolated or nomadic populations, children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities and children from other marginalised groups.
In the case of inclusive education, Bangladesh developed its situation gradually. Quality and inclusive education is compulsory for the bright future of any nation but in the case of Bangladesh the educational system is polluted by politics, bad administration and corruption. Also, the educational system is being diverted towards GPA- or CGPA-based education which is not the real purpose of education. As a result, the quality of education is now questionable.
The government should, therefore, take proper steps for ensuring quality and change the existing track of education to the real track of education. Quality and inclusive education will be effective for the future generations. To build a better future for all, the government will have to think about how to ensure inclusive education for all in the country.
(The author is studying for Bachelor in Social Sciences (BSS) degree in Development Studies at Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)