A good basis for imagining what education should be ten years hence is the education targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG2030) adopted by the United Nations in 2015. And Bangladesh has pledged its support to SDG2030.
If the SDG4 targets related to education are achieved, the landscape will be radically changed. Realisation of the seven targets will mean:
Twelve years of free, publicly funded good quality primary and secondary education will be available to all without discrimination. Currently about half of the age group complete secondary and a quarter achieve higher secondary education.
All girls and boys will have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education. Most children now attend pre-primary classes but the ducation quality remains poor; there is no nationwide programme yet for younger children's development.
Women and men will have equal access to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university. About a quarter of TVET (technical and vocational, education and training) enrolment are girls and a third are in tertiary education at present.
Most youth and adults will develop high-level transferable skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, communication skills and conflict resolution, which can be used across occupational fields. The quality and relevance of skills and competencies now achieved are a major challenge.
Gender and other disparities in education will be eliminated; there will be equal participation irrespective of sex, age, race, colour, ethnicity, language, religion, national or social origin, and different abilities of people. At present, inequality in education opportunities by economic status, geography and special needs remain a major concern.
All young people and adults will achieve relevant and recognised proficiency in functional literacy and numeracy skills that are equivalent to successful completion of basic education. About 73% adults are reported to be literate, but a functional level is not achieved by all.
All will participate in education for sustainable development (ESD) and global citizenship education (GCED) including education for peace, human rights, and for intercultural and international understanding. Curriculum reform is underway, but its implementation will be challenged by not enough, and not sufficiently skilled and capable, teachers.
A comprehensive and unified education sector plan, eliminating the division of K-12 school education between two ministries, and a focused endeavour through two successive five-year plans up to 2030 will be necessary to achieve the targets.
The teaching profession will have to attract the best and the brightest. At least a doubling of public education share of GNP and efficient use of the resources through effective and accountable governance will also be essential. Failure to meet these conditions will mean that the education system will limp along and will fall considerably short of the targets in ten years.
Manzoor Ahmed is the Professor Emeritus at Brac University