Education Policy

Rate of Return of Education in Bangladesh: An investigation

Rate of Return 1
Written by Goutam Roy


Abstract: This article examines the contribution made by education in Bangladesh using primary data gained form a small scale of research. Secondary data also supplements. Both school and out-of-school education is considered in this study. Findings show that primary education contributes mainly for social development. Secondary provision also contributes mainly for social development, some attempts in contributing economical development are made of but these are not working properly because of existing education system and job pattern. Higher Education (HE) consumes a large portion of public and private fund to ensure economic development. Unfortunately, because of existing job pattern of Bangladesh and requirements placed for recruitments, contribution from HE is low where investment to per unit is reasonably higher. Overall conclusion suggests that there is a scope for development at each provision. This study also advocates an urgent need to conduct a broader study on this issue to make the education system more effective towards the development.

Keywords: Rate of Return (ROR), Investment in Education, Out-of-school Education, Employment Market, Manpower Planning, Economic Return, Social Return

1. Introduction

It is predominantly assumed that investment in education has a significant return therefore countries are paying especial priority in allocating budget in education. A number of researches have been conducted in the field of return to investment in education (Psacharopoulos and Patrions, 2002; Harmon and Walker, 1999; Hartog, et. al,. 1999; Appleton, 2000). Most of those find that return to investment in education is reversed (Hartog, et. al,. 1999 and Appleton, 2000). Most of the works included in this area put an effort to understand the return to investment in education in terms of financial benefit (Psacharopoulos and Patrions, 2002; Murphy and Welch 1992; Card, 2001 and Rouse, 1999). Scholars argue that even though the Rate of Return (ROR) in economic perspective is low, it may be higher in social development which is somehow nearly impossible to determine (Murphy and Welch 1992; Card, 2001 and Rouse, 1999). Factually, economic development and social development are interrelated thus it is worthwhile to note that if education broadly contributed in social development, it would have an impact on economic development.

What is not education? – a question is merely impossible to answer. Education is subsequently provided by a number of providers (i.e. religious institutions, paternal participation, media, development made by the globalization of 21st century, technological behavior changes and institutions of education, partners for development etc.). In order to calculate the ROR, we never make comparison between the contribution of education provided by school system and other providers. We also do not often recognize the contribution made by other providers while we work for ROR. The adherents of other fields often argue that not only official provision for education but also other providers of education (i.e. media, participation and governance etc.) are playing a role in the development by educating the community. A study is yet to be conducted in Bangladesh to explore the contribution made from each of the field individually. Once, we have the specific contribution from respective field, making comparison will just be a matter for calculation.

Countries have set up goal, aims and objectives gained through education. Legislators often feel that achieving officially determined goal in favor of education is a primary responsibility of formal school system (Alam, 2008a). Many instances have been found that other providers such as media, religious institutions and globalization hinder the success of formal school as they may have other goals, purposes or vision which are different from their school counterpart.

Different level of schooling (i.e. primary, secondary and tertiary) is working to contribute in a specific focus. For instance, primary education should mainly work for the development of social freedom while higher education must be more focused on economic growth. If a particular kind of education is provided to do a special job, employment of this graduate in other job does not make any sense, nevertheless it provides reverse return. Moreover, if graduates employed with a higher or specified/differentiated diploma do not fundamentally use their education in doing their jobs, also provide reverse return.

Given the discourse outlined, few research questions are generated:

1. What is the contribution made by different level of education?

2. What is the contribution made by school system and other providers of education?

3. What is the disparity in selecting the aims of education provided by other providers?

4. What is the gap in the school system in contributing desired level of contribution?

5. How can school system contribute more significantly?

Finding section of this article intends to answer of these questions. We aim to provide a further model and food of thought in investigating the ROR of education in Bangladesh before drawing the conclusion. Prior to do this, we will provide a review of literature and data collection and analysis coherently.

About the author

Goutam Roy

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