Share of the education sector expenditure, both as percentage of the GDP and total public expenditure, is declining

Analyzing the budget allocation of the ongoing fiscal year (FY22), it can be seen that the education sector got the second-highest budget. But surprisingly, it was associated with “Technology,” which means the money of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant was also calculated with education.

For the upcoming FY23 budget, different stakeholders of the education sector advised the government to consider enriching the quality of education besides looking after the salaries and allowances of teachers and infrastructure development. They urged the government to increase the allocation of the education budget.

Campaign For Popular Education (Campe), Education Watch and the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) jointly organized a discussion on the theme “Education Budget: Lessons from Budget” with the title “Education and human resource development: Where do we stand” on Saturday where various inconsistencies in the government’s allocation in the education sector in the last budget and advice for the upcoming FY23 budget was given. 

Research Fellow of CPD Muntaseer Kamal presented the keynote paper during the discussion session. 

In his presentation, he said: “Education has been considered to be a priority in all the successive Five-Year Plan documents of Bangladesh. However, over the years, Bangladesh was able to make limited progress in terms of providing the required budgetary allocations for education. 

“Total public expenditure on education was 1.6% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 1990, which rose to about 2% in 2000. Since then, it has been hovering around this level. However, after the rebasing of GDP (base year: 2015-16), the share came down to 1.4% in FY21.” 

“Such level of public expenditure is not commensurate with Bangladesh’s development aspirations, particularly in view of the upcoming LDC graduation and attaining the SDGs. Meanwhile, it is true that there has been some critical progress in some important indicators such as primary and secondary enrolment,” he added.

Muntaseer also said: “Besides the inadequacy of expenditure, there are concerns regarding the efficiency of deployed resources in terms of expected outcomes.” 

According to a graph presentation displayed in the seminar, it is a matter of concern that the share of the education sector expenditure, both as a percentage of the GDP and total public expenditure, is declining. 

In FY16, education expenditure, as a percentage of GDP was 1.8%. In FY17, it was 1.7%. It was 1.6%, 1.7%, 1.7% and 1.1% in FY18, FY19, FY20 and FY21 respectively. 

Although it was 2% in the FY 2021-22 primary budget, it declined to 1.1% as the base year of GDP changed. 

However, the quality of ADP expenditure remains a critical area of concern. 

According to the keynote paper, the quality of education remains a major area of improvement. Low teacher-student ratio, particularly in science and mathematics, and inadequate quality-enhancing training facilities for teachers affect the quality of education. 

Regarding the upcoming FY23 budget, CPD recommended enhancing the budgetary allocation for education significantly. Barring FY19 and FY20, the budget deficit was consistently below the respective target levels. For example, in FY21, the budget deficit was nearly Tk60,000 crore lower than the target, which is nearly 90% of the education budget of the corresponding year.