Bangladesh is one of the world's poorest and most densely populated countries, but according to the IMF list of 2007, Bangladesh ranked as the 48th largest economy in the world"10. And if this type of success is achieved by Bangladesh where its universities turn out almost "450,000 skilled graduates" annually, then we can easily imagine that if the number of university graduates goes higher then there is a huge possibility that the economy of Bangladesh would be in much better position rather than 48th. So, let's work together to findout more ways to finance higher education in Bangladesh for a more prosperous future.
Strategy of financing higher education in Bangladesh
Kazi Khaled Shams Chisty
The quality of human resources of a nation is easily judged by the percentage of literate population living in it. Only through the attainment of education, one is able to receive information from the external world; to get acquainted with the past and receive all necessary information regarding the present. For the development of any field or area such as Business, Science, Economics, Religion education is deemed necessary.
This is to say that education is a must if a nation aspires to achieve growth and development and more importantly sustain it. This may well explain the fact that rich and developed nations of the world have very high literacy rates and productive human resources. We call say that without education, we arc as though in a closed room and with education we find ourselves in a room with all its windows open towards the outside world.
"According to statistics released for the first time, China has the most tertiary graduates in the world. As part of the World Education Indicators (WEI) Programme, this publication analyses the progress made by 19 middle-income and developing countries.
1. For comparative purposes, the report also includes benchmarks for Member States of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and an additional 12 countries. 2. In total, it presents data for 63 countries at different stages or development that comprise 71% of the world's population and produce over 90% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).
In 2005, more students entered and graduated from universities in the 19 WEI countries than in the 30 Member States of the OECD combined. About 5.7 million WEI students attained a tertiary degree compared to 5.2 million from OECD countries. This figure does not include data from India, which are currently not available.
China now has the most tertiary graduates in the world - 2.4 million in 2006. This is more than the top three OECD countries combined: the United States (1.4 million), Japan (0.6 million) and Prance (0.3 million). In addition, more than one million tertiary students graduated in the Russian Federation, which is also the case for Brazil and Indonesia combined" 1.
"The education system in Bangladesh is divided into four levels or stages. The first is the Primary level which incorporates grades 1 to 5. The second is Secondary level which covers grades 6 to 10. The Higher Secondary level consists of grades 11 and 12. If a student wishes to pursue further studies, tertiary education institutions are available. There are government universities in Bangladesh and some private universities which provide tertiary education. Students can choose to further studies in engineering, technology, agriculture and medicine at a variety of universities and colleges.
At all levels of schooling, students can choose to receive their education in English or Bengali. Private schools tend to provide instruction in English while government-sponsored schools use Bengali more frequently.
A separate religious branch of education, known as the Madrasah system, teaches all the basics of education in a religious environment. Religious studies are taught in Arabic and the children also usually serve the related mosques, 2.
Universities represent 75 out of 104 institutions listed as conventional higher educational institutions in Bangladesh. Segmented by management and financial structure, these include 29 public universities, 56 non-government universities, 1 international university, 31 specialised colleges, and 2 special universities. There arc specialised universities in both categories offering courses principally in technological studies, medical studies, business studies and Islamic studies. There are two private universities dedicated solely to female students".
Passing the HSC is one of the ways to step into the arena of achieving higher education in Bangladesh.
"Over 23 percent of students registered in class XI to sit for the HSC examinations this year have dropped out, due mainly to financial constraints.
About 6.07 lakh students were registered as regular students under nine Education Boards after passing Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations. But only 4.64 lakh students sat for the Higher Secondary Certificates (HSC) examinations in 2007 according to statistics. As many as 143,297 students or 23.58 percent will not appear in this year's HSC examinations under seven Education Boards, one technical education board and one madrasah board, according to data.
The main cause of the failure to complete is the financial inability of the students' families to bear their educational expenses. The problem becomes acute as purchasing capacity of the general population has been tremendously reduced, while prices of educational materials and different types of fees have sharply shot up in the last two years. Academicians observe that most families of the low-income group are forced to reduce their children's educational expense".
"Bangladesh has recently developed a National Strategic Plan for Higher Education for the next 20 years. The strategic plan highlights major challenges facing the sector in Bangladesh and recommends strategies to address the issues. The strategic plan recognised, among others, limited access, weak governance and management of institutions, and poor quality of higher education as major issues which need to be addressed.
The Plan proposed a number of policy reforms and interventions to be implemented in three consecutive phases. Some of the key recommendations made by the Plan are: (I) Depoliticisation of public universities; (ii) Setting up a national search committee for selecting Vice-chancellors and other senior officials; (iii) Strengthening of UGC; (iv) Establishment of accreditation council; (v) Enhanced support for research; and (vi) Development of strategies for retaining and developing quality teaching staff' 5.
"The educational system in Bangladesh is three-tiered and highly subsidised. The government of Bangladesh operates many schools in the primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels. It also subsidises parts of the funding for many private schools. In the tertiary education sector, the government also funds state universities through the University Grants Commission"6. But so far no policy has been taken for in the name of financing higher education.
But does it mean that we sit idle or do not search for options for financing higher education in Bangladesh? Or has no one done anything yet to finance higher education in Bangladesh? The answer is no, a few financial institutions and to the best of my knowledge one private sector university is doing something to further the financing the higher education in Bangladesh.
"Grameen Kalyan, the welfare division of Grameen Bank, famous since 1983 for its innovative lending programmes for the landless poor, has expanded its objectives beyond micro enterprise to include higher education. Grameen Kalyan has devised a programme the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP)--that identifies intellectually talented young villagers and helps them to finance their university education through loans.
Using Grameen Bank's network of 1,118 branch offices throughout rural Bangladesh, Grameen Kalyan wants to encourage poor children not only to complete the equivalent of Secondary education, but also to attend public university.
The hope is to create a new generation of highly educated poor who will have one more weapon with which to attack the cycle of poverty. In the context of Bangladesh, one of the least-developed countries in the world, such a task would seem enormous if not impossible7".
"Prime Bank Limited, one of the leading private commercial banks in the country has established the Prime Bank Foundation. Through the foundation, the bank provides education scholarships among poor but brilliant students" 8. And I am sure that few other banks are also contributing for the same cause but unfortunately I do not have all their names right now.
From my own experience I can say that Dutch Bangla Bank has given a scholarship to one student of East West University for finishing his IBA. Standard Chattered Bank of Bangladesh used to provide higher education loan to the students of East West University.
"Regarding Contribution of Universities for financing higher education IUBAT-International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, set an example by establishing a higher education finance programme name, KBAD-Knowledge Based Area Development. Under this programme IUBAT has set out the long term vision of producing one technical graduate from each village/ward as a step towards community self reliance.
To institutionalise the educational financing IUBAT has established an educational cooperative in the form of IUBAT Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd (IMCSL), with a share capital of 50 million taka divided in 500 thousand shares of taka 100 each.
One of the prime objectives of IMCSL is to mobilise funds for providing educational loans and scholarships to members and their dependents to help them pursue higher education and professional training"9
1. More budget allocation to support higher education from the government.
2. Raising tuition fee as a significant source of revenue for the support of instructional cost.
3. Full cost recovery of other fees such as institutionally provided room and board.
4. Sale of research publications, consultancy, etc
5. Participation of private sector both non-profit and proprietary providers
6. Philanthropy for endowments, for direct operations and for scholarship to students
7. Getting sponsor for meritorious but financially challenged students from different private sector banks, industries.
"Bangladesh is one of the world's poorest and most densely populated countries, but according to the IMF list of 2007, Bangladesh ranked as the 48th largest economy in the world"10. And if this type of success is achieved by Bangladesh where its universities turn out almost "450,000 skilled graduates" annually, then we can easily imagine that if the number of university graduates goes higher then there is a huge possibility that the economy of Bangladesh would be in much better position rather than 48th. So, let's work together to findout more ways to finance higher education in Bangladesh for a more prosperous future.