Total spending in primary education has fallen by 14 per cent as a percentage of the total education allocation during the period from 93-94 to 2003-04 though in absolute term the amount is increased.
This was revealed in a survey report titled 'Gender Equality in Primary Education in Bangladesh,' prepared by Social Unit of the Unnayan Onneshan, a local development research organisation.
The report also revealed that the total public expenditure in primary education fell steadily from 1.09 per cent in 1993-94 to approximately 0.81 per cent in 2003-04. Public expenditure in primary education per pupil expressed as percentage of GDP per capita fell from 9.12 per cent in 1993-94 to 7.09 per cent in 2003-04.
During the Fifth Five-Year Plan (1997-2002), despite increased allocation in education, public investment in education in Bangladesh as a share of GDP was possibly the lowest in South Asia, it added.
As service provider, the education affordability opportunities of the Government of Bangladesh is disappointing compared to the increasing demand for the primary education of the country.
Painting a gloomy picture of dropout rates of the students in primary level, the report also said, "Twenty per cent children may never have access to primary education at all. Children who born and grown up in the poor family are more excluded from the primary school in both urban and rural areas".
The report also said that though the Food for Education Programme increased enrolment in targeted schools, it could not keep pace with the quality.
The eligibility condition for receiving stipend requires 75 per cent class attendance, 45 per cent marks in annual exams and remaining unmarried until 18 years. In a blatant contrast to this provision, the female students cannot attend classes regularly, perform dissatisfactory in annual exams and many of them are forced to get married in early age.
Meanwhile, despite various steps taken by the government to increase enrolment in primary education, 3.5 million boys and girls aged between 6 to 10 years are not enrolled in the country yet. Most of them are from the northern region of the country, nearly 300,000.
The slow progress in enrolling students in primary education does not even permit achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target unless progress rate accelerates to at least 1.33 per cent growth per year.