Sunday, July 5, 2020 | ePaper

Need a functional illiteracy eradication policy

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AROUND 26 percent of adults in Bangladesh are still illiterate though the ruling party in its 2008 election manifesto had promised to eradicate illiteracy from the country by 2014. The National Education Policy 2010, framed by the then government in 2009, also set a similar target of ensuring 100% literacy by the same timeframe. But the literacy rate for people aged 15 and above stands at 73.9 percent, shows Bangladesh Sample Vital Statistics 2018 released by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics in May. The rate was 48.8 percent among the same age group in 2008, according to BBS Literacy Assessment Survey 2008.
Although the government had pledged to eradicate illiteracy by 2014, it failed to take up any project under the Bureau until 2014 to further bring down the illiteracy rate. The government in 1997 took up a major project titled "Total Literacy Movement" with State fund of Tk 682.9 crore. And the implementing agency was the Directorate of Non-Formal Education. But in 2003, the then BNP government discontinued the project over allegations of irregularities. It even dismantled the Directorate of Non-Formal Education and transformed it into the BNFE in 2005. The BNFE didn't take up any major programme with focus on reducing illiteracy during the tenure of the aforesaid government.
An absence of proper planning, lack of will and financing as well as incapacity of implementing agency Bureau of Non-Formal Education (BNFE) are responsible for the failure to eradicate illiteracy. They have also pointed out little interest among donors in financing literacy projects because of mismanagement in the previous projects. No amount of project work is going to make illiteracy disappear from Bangladesh. Expansion of formal education played a vital role in the increase in literacy rate for adults in the last 10 years. It's obvious that long-term planning, rather than short-term projects, will do more to eradicate illiteracy from Bangladesh.
Our adults should be literate and remain so for the rest of their lives. The government must take a long-term planning and infrastructure development instead of spending megabucks on short-term projects. We must ensure that no one among us remains illiterate in the next decade and for that, illiteracy programmes should remain functional.

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