May 22, 2013 | 09:41 PM (BD Time)
22 May, 2013 Wednesday
Literacy scenario in Bangladesh
Mohammad Muntasim Tanvir :
(From previous issue)
The government had set up a separate Primary and Mass Education Division in 1992, renamed as Ministry of PME in 2003. A separate Directorate of Non-formal Education (DNFE) was established in 1995 to steer the Literacy and NFE towards achieving the goal. Bangladesh made a commitment at the Fifth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA V), Hamburg, 1997 to eradicate illiteracy in 10 years, by 2006, in the context of Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning, 1997. As a follow-up, the Government started implementation of a massive basic literacy project, named Total Literacy Movement (TLM), from 1997 to make literate 22.889 million 11-45 year-old illiterates into literate persons. Directorate of NFE had an elaborate organisation structure for planning, implementation, technical support, and administration and finance, but lacked professional staff competence at almost all levels to manage the projects of NFE. DNFE developed Primers for basic literacy and post-literacy to be adopted by the implementing partner NGOs. The Primer for post-literacy was found not suitable for the learners who were neo-literate having been in basic literacy course. Both TLM and DNFE were discontinued from 2003 for reasons of administrative convenience and a more autonomous Bureau of Non-Formal Education (BNFE) was created in 2005 after a two year vacuum from the abrupt discontinuation.
BNFE was established as the national agency for NFE to facilitate a coordinated sub-sector approach, to provide technical support and also to implement development projects. The Bureau has full authority in the matter of NFE oversight and management in the country. The Bureau also serves as the executive agency, on behalf of the government, for projects funded by development partners. The government provides annual allocation from its own budget to meet the operational expenses for running the Bureau and its affairs. A district level structure is developed in each of the 64 districts for NFE management. According to the EFA MDA Report, currently the following projects are within the auspices of BNFE -
o PLCEHD-1 Project: started in 2001, went into operation in 2003. The project operates in rural areas of 32 districts, has a target population of 1.36 million 11-45 year old neo-literates (graduates of basic literacy program), amended to include primary school dropouts, now due for completion in 2008.
o PLCEHD-2 project was approved, went into operation in 2002 and is projected to complete in 2011. It has a target population of 1.6 million neo-literates of age-group 11-45 with an approved cost of 601.4 million Taka (GoB component) and 4954.04 million Taka as Project Aid.
o PLCEHD-3 is a pilot project to be implemented for age-group 11-45 years population who have dropped out of schools and / or graduated from TLM. It has a budget of 1.53 million Taka to cover 96,000 target population.
There are great expectations around PLCEHD-2, as it is to incorporate the learning from the first phase that completed this year.
B. NGO Initiatives: Bangladesh has a large number of NGOs that run different adult education programmes. Some implement the Government programme but others, especially the larger NGOs, design and develop their own material and training programmes independently.
There are 1048 NGOs engaged in managing education program in the country. A recent study shows that on the basis of education programs, number of centres and learners and gender, the NGOs run 6,574 centres, attended to by 145,470 learners, with females being 119,277 by number and 82 by percentage. NGO programs take 33 learners per centre and aim for 70 percent female participation (GOB, 2008).
NGOs have their own curriculum, teaching learning, training and supplementary materials. They also have developed and use 45 different curriculum, which have the official primary education curriculum at its core. It creates difficulties if a learner wishes or is obliged to move to another NGO program because of the differences in the curriculum contents.
At one time more than 500 NGOs had worked as implementing partners of the DNFE projects. With the closure of DNFE many of them have gone out of existence; reportedly many new ones have come up (CAMPE, 2007). As the Government literacy program became inactive NGO programs also reduced in size or scope.
In fact there has been a lull adult literacy program as NGOs have gone more for primary education. It is also due to the easier funding opportunities around UPE rather than literacy.
According to a case study commissioned by UNESCO and prepared by ASPBAE, there was lack of trust, understanding, mutual respect with a genuine partnership spirit between DNFE and the implementing NGOs. Following the NFE basic literacy programme for youth and adults, implementation of the Post-literacy and Continuing Education for Human Development Project did not start as scheduled.
On the ground of inefficiency and malpractice of DNFE the Government decided to abolish the institution. A review found that many NGOs had no organizational or management capability and prior experience in implementing NFE. So, the collaboration between the government department (DNFE) and the implementing NGOs was determined more by convenience and opaque practices rather than by objective criteria based on competency and qualification.
One of the key insights from the experience of NGO and government programmes seems to be not enough investment in establishing more permanent CE centres. This constitutes the difference between the government and NGO programmes - as the ASPBAE study, which took government initiative and Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) programme for adult litera
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