The government sits with its donors tomorrow (Sunday) to review the on-going multi-billion-dollar project designed to bring about "a sea change" in the country's primary education, riddled by allegations of graft and inefficiency.
The meeting is expected to assess the coordination and monitoring status of the second phase of primary education development programme (PEDPII) undertaken in the current fiscal (2005-06).
It may also identify the setbacks facing the implementing agency of the project and come up with recommendations for strengthening coordination.
Sources at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) said the inter-ministerial meeting to be held at the National Economic Council would help chart out a roadmap for ensuring better coordination among the public and the donor agencies.
ERD Secretary Ismail Zabiullah will chair the meeting to be attended by representatives of 11 donors, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Billed as a sector-wide approach to primary education development, the PEDPII is a multi-donor supported project, with the ADB being its lead agency.
Officials hope if implemented, the US$1.81 billion-project is expected to bring about a sea-change in the country's primary education scenario.
"This co-financing programme is a new thing. Such programmes are very few in numbers--not only in Bangladesh, but also in the world," ERD Secretary Ismail Zabiullah told the FE.
The meeting would gauge the coordination and monitoring status of the project, Zabiullah said, when asked about the issues to be discussed in the tomorrow's meeting.
"We'll discuss the implementation status, too. We'll identify the problems facing both the government and the donors while implementing the project," he added.
Under the programme, around 14,000 new teachers for primary schools across the country will be recruited by June this year as part of the move to ensure quality education.
The government plans to appoint more teachers making the total number to 35,000 under the PEDPII.
Of the total costs, the government's share is 63.9 per cent while the WB and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) are accounting for 8.3 per cent each.
The ADB and the European Commission (EC) are contributing 5.5 per cent each while the Netherlands, Norwegian Agency for Development, Swedish International Development Agency, Canadian International Development Agency, government of Japan and UNICEF/Australian government account for 2.8 per cent, 2.2 per cent, 1.6 per cent, 1.1 per cent, 0.2 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.
With 82,868 primary schools dotting the country, Bangladesh has been relatively successful in providing universal primary education.
The country has also been able to increase the female enrollment in the primary education system, although the quality of education remains in question.
The number of primary school teachers and students are 352,935 and 18 million respectively with the teacher-student ratio being 1:60.
The Department of Primary Education, the implementing agency of the multi-year programme, plans to jack up the teacher-student ratio to 1:46.
The PEDPII is expected to complete by 2009 and the government envisages replication of the programme in other areas, too.
"If successful, the government may replicate such a good programme in other sectors," the ERD secretary said.