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EU continues Bangladesh education support with €205m funding

In a huge boost to the education sector in Bangladesh, the European Union has committed to providing €205m funding for the development of the country’s lifelong learning approach, bringing together primary education and TVET.

The EU contribution aims to support education policy improvements and system strengthening with a specific focus on primary education and TVET. Photo: European Union

The EU contribution is meant to support education policy with a specific focus on primary education and TVET

This was announced alongside the launch of the Human Capital Development Program 2021 that aims to support Bangladesh to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals in education.

“The government has made tremendous efforts to uplift the education sector”

According to latest UNESCO data, Bangladesh boasts a higher literacy rate than India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan on the global literacy index at 72% with the literacy rate for men and women aged between 15 to 24 years at 92% in 2016.

This is believed to be due to a combination of progressive government policies and fiscal influx by international agencies.

“The EU contribution is meant to support education policy improvements and system strengthening with a specific focus on primary education and TVET,” said the European Union Ambassador in Bangladesh, Rensje Teerink, who signed the financial agreement with a minister in the Finance department, Monowar Ahmed.

Ahmed said the EU is a “key donor to Bangladesh” and acknowledged “the longstanding support of the EU in a sector as crucial as education”.

He added that Bangladesh was “looking forward to further strengthening our solid partnership and together making an important contribution to reaching the SDGs by 2030”.

Saida Muna Tasneem, the Bangladeshi high commissioner to the UK, told The PIE News that “education receives a huge share of our annual budget and the government has made tremendous efforts to uplift the education sector, the results of which are visible for all to see.”

The government has started the construction of new buildings and introducing vocational courses alongside setting up computer labs and digital classrooms.

An official report given to The PIE shows that the major objective of government policies in Bangladesh is to “help create a new generation, enriched in education, knowledge and skills besides having a high ethical standard, respect to the people and a strong commitment to the nation.”

A 2017 UNICEF report claimed Bangladesh “serves as a case study that explicates the nuances of employability cultivation at the secondary education level, and the silos of education and workforce development”.

This implies that TVET needs to be updated in terms of quality of education and training and also needs to gain popularity among the students and their families as a more sustainable alternative to leaving formal education early and entering the labour market.

Bangladesh has also adopted a National Strategy for Promotion of Gender Equality in TVET, which aims to raise female participation to 40% by 2020.

According to Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics, girls comprise 51.9% of the total number of students at secondary level, which is the highest among the E-9 countries (Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan).

The EU funded TVET program aims at contributing to the establishment of a sustainable and comprehensive TVET system and increasing the number of certified teachers, the enrolment rate of TVET students and degrees recognition through a National Qualification Framework.

“We have faith in our government policies and institutions and are confident of our success”

“With a working population anticipated to increase by 21 million people over the next decade, continued investment in quality primary education and establishment of a sustainable TVET system is critical,” said Teerink, who also met Education minister Dipu Moni to discuss co-operation in education and skills development sector.

The new EU Education program operates through a budget support modality based on sector performance indicators, with €150 million for primary education,€50 million for TVET and€ million for complementary Technical Assistance to be implemented in the next four years.

“We have faith in our government policies and institutions and are confident of our success,” added high commissioner to the UK, Tasneem.

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