Education Policy

Rate of Return of Education in Bangladesh: An investigation

3. Methods

Determining methods in calculating return to education is the hardest job thus the discussion is often limited to informal communication although a number a scholars realize that education may not have a significant return. In order to understand a comparative situation, this study covered a number of respondents varying in their education levels and types and job pattern. Respondents who are involved with work (job) are only considered. 176 respondents with no education and 1200 with different level of education have been considered for quantitative part of this study. Of the 1200 gradates, 247 are primary, 219 are secondary, 231 are higher secondary and others are higher educated. We covered graduates studied different areas (i.e. science, commerce, arts, engineering, medicine and other professional course). Quantitative data were used to understand their perception regarding the importance of their gained education in doing the jobs, for which they are involved, and their change of behavior in respect to the social development. Questionnaires designed by using a number of indicators informed employees’ productivity in doing the jobs. Questionnaires also informed the level of use of education knowledge gained from school in implementing the jobs in which they are employed. Some indicators also included in the questionnaires that informed the contribution of education gained through school for social development. Interviews were conducted with 200 respondents who were the respondents for quantitative part. Of the 200 respondents, 46 have no education, 37 have primary education, 32 have secondary education, 47 have higher secondary education and the rest 38 have higher education with a random sampling system. However, we covered the graduates studied different field as the way maintained for quantitative part. Interview data supplemented the data gained from questionnaires. The group who has no formal education is considered to understand what difference is made by primary education provision and where we stand without having any kind of education. Thereafter, consideration of other level of education helped to compare with each other. This helped in determining what level of education is mainly required for what kind of jobs. It is important to note that academic and scholars are not considered within the sample as this study aims to explore the issues with the workforce.

4. Result and Discussion

4.1. Contribution Made by Different Level of Education

According to the perception of every group of respondents, education is very important for both economic and social benefits. Most of the respondents view that education provides diploma which is helpful to be employed and employment brings economic prosperity. This prosperity provides a social prestige. Most of the respondents with primary and secondary education perceive that this kind of social prestige is social development. Thus the concept of social development is not clear to them yet. Data reveal that 100% respondents with no formal education do not face any difficulty in implementing the works for which they are engaged. However, they believe that they could join with a better job if they received education. Hence, the question is; if after having education, no one is found to do these kind of jobs, what will be the prospect of this sector? Surprisingly, 100% respondents with primary education are involved in the jobs that are covered by the group having no formal education. These primary graduates also do not feel that they necessarily need the primary education in doing the job for which they are employed. Observation also notices no difference of job performance between two types of graduates. It is interesting to know; does any especial skills are required in doing such kinds of works? It has been found that the jobs mainly covered by the uneducated group and primary graduates require a number of skills which they learn after involving with the jobs. Bangladeshi primary education does not usually provide any skills that are required for jobs. Primary education concentrates on providing some competencies that are required to continue secondary education, thus the group, dropped out from primary level, almost achieved no skills which are necessary for their working life.

Group having no formal education perceives that they are unable to contributive for social development as the ways primary graduates do. In order to contribute for social development, communication skills are important so that they can access to all of the information. If they were educated, they would play a role for democracy, governance, transparency, health and other issues. They also feel that if they were educated, their voice was considered as important and powerful thus chance to contribute in development would be more.

Respondents with primary education feel that they have more communicative skill than the group having no formal education. This helps them in a number of ways. An important fact is marked that within the current climate, they are to contribute significantly for the development of good governance and democracy, and they are well aware of the problem. Furthermore, they are playing a diminutive role for the development of health and education sector as they are more aware than the group having no formal education.

It is explored in our study that the drop-out section of population from primary education are not playing a role for economic development, however, they are someway contributing for social development. The section of population who completes primary education and receives secondary education will play the same role if secondary education also fails to provide necessary skills for the jobs, they are engaged.

Of the respondents with junior secondary education, almost 33% are involved in the sectors where both group having no formal education and primary graduates are involved. This group also does not feel that their education is helping for their jobs. Remaining 67% involved in different kinds of jobs. Of this 67%, 40% believe that they can use only 5% of education they received, 30% believe that they can use 10% of education they received from their secondary education provision, and the rest 30% are using 15% of education that they gained. Thus 33% of the graduates drop out from the junior secondary school provision does not use any education for their jobs; other 67% use only 10% of their knowledge on an average. Junior secondary education helps the students who continue further education. Data reveal that graduate with junior secondary education contribute more than primary graduate as secondary graduates are more communicative.

Of the respondents with secondary education, almost 28% are involved in the jobs that are covered by junior secondary graduates. The job performance between junior secondary graduates and secondary graduates are almost same. 72% of the junior secondary graduates are involved in different kinds of jobs. Of this 72%, 64% received general education, 16% received Madrasha education and the other 20% received VET. On an average, graduates with general education use 15% of their education in doing the job, while Madrasha and VET graduate use respectively 10% and 25% of their gained knowledge from education. There is a very slight difference noticed in regards to the contribution of social development between junior secondary and secondary graduates. The group who continues higher education uses their secondary education to enroll into higher education.

Of the graduates with higher education, respectively 20%, 30%, 20%, 20% and 10% studied arts, business studies, science, professional courses (engineering) and medicine. The graduates from arts discipline view that they just use their 50% of higher secondary education in doing the jobs for which they are employed. Of the science graduates, only 30% have been employed in their respective subjects, others are employed in various fields. The graduates who are employed in their respective filed use only 18% of their gained knowledge from their higher education. The science graduates who are working a field other than their subject only use 40% of their higher secondary education knowledge. Of the graduate with professional degree, 60% are involved with respective professions use 25% of their gained knowledge from higher education. The 40% of professional graduates employed in different fields use nearly 30% of their higher secondary education in doing the job. Of the medicine graduates, 70% are involved with their profession who use 40% of knowledge gained from the higher education, the remaining 30% who are involved other field use nearly 30% of their gained knowledge from higher secondary education. No significant difference on the contribution of social development between graduates with higher secondary education and higher education was marked.

Overall, primary, junior secondary, secondary, higher secondary and tertiary graduates respectively use 14%, 12%, 16% and 11% of education that contribute towards the social development, while education provided by other providers contribute significantly more.

4.2. Contribution Made by Other Provisions

The 21st century has shaped the world in different ways. Not only technological changes but also changes in many aspect of social life have been taken places. Some scholars argue that education has provided us such a wonderful and meaningful 21st century. Indeed, this is true; however 21st century has created an atmosphere which is helping the expansion of education rapidly. Moreover, different types of Medias and education providers apart from formal school system are playing the best substitute role of formal education system. Earlier, contribution of media and 21st century only benefited the higher educated group as they had a scope to access in those. These days, mass people are also the beneficiary of the modernized 21st century. People in a rural village use many types of electronic devices (i.e. mobile phone, watch, radio and television). This also helps them learn so many things that are related to their job (economic development) and to social development. Scanning the questionnaires, primary graduates who are related with farming activities learn 26% skills from radio and television. Interview data reveal that media and other modern innovations of 21st century changed the life pattern of primary graduates noteworthy which is connected to the social development.

Data received from secondary graduates reveal that media and other innovations of 21st century are power weapons in learning new skills that is connected to economic and social development. Data further reveal that quality of education provided by the formal schools has deteriorated enormously. Students are not significantly learning skills from the formal schooling that are required for their employment. Twenty-first century not only teaches them new skills that are required to gain economic benefit but also make a significant changes on the behavior patterns which is important to cope with the changes recently made in the globe. Thus, this somehow helps the graduates in contributing their economic and social development. With the scope of this research, it was not possible to determine the contribution made by other providers apart from formal school system, however it should be noted that other providers are one of the best substitutes or even in some cases other providers play vital role where education system just work as substitute.

Overall, it was found that primary, secondary, higher secondary and tertiary graduates respectively use 17%, 12%, 9% and 7% of the education gained from other providers ( i. e training, workshops, radio, newspapers, 21st century, TV etc.)  for their jobs. On the other hand, they respectively use 18%, 22%, 28% and 26% of their knowledge grained from other providers that contributes towards social development.

However, interview data reveal that education gained through formal system make a foundation thus using education provided by other providers is possible. One respondent observes that “Formal education provides fundamental knowledge such as reading, writing and communication skills and knowledge of analytical analysis which are products of formal school system. This helps to achieve and use education received from other providers, thus without the education of formal system, other education will be ineffective”.

4.3. Disparity in Selecting the Aims of Education Provided by the Different Providers

Both formal (institution of education) and out-of-school provision of education (i.e. newspapers, radio, TV, technology, 21st century etc.) are working towards the development of a nation. Both providers mainly help a country to achieve economic and social development. Education is a serious concern of public policy while media receive attention of pubic policy when their broadcast is related to government policy. These days, media enjoys a reasonably high freedom in issue of forecasting cultural programmes (i.e. drama, cinema, talk shows and borrowed programmes from Western) and the advertisement and promotional programmes.

Formal education system considers that bondage to our own culture and heritage will make our life more systematic. This will help us in achieving our social development in the light of science. In contrast, because of market approach, media is developed a western model that help to sell their programmes. Thus, a contrast in the context of cultural, traditional and heritage learning has been noticed between school and out-of-school provisions of education. These days influence of media is much stronger than ever before thus schools are struggling to put forward their arguments to the students. One respondents note that “I do not ague that which provisions (school, family or TV) are providing right education towards the culture. But I found a huge gap between different providers. This makes a students’ life problematic as they do not know which one should be considered.” Not only students but also guardians are quite confused, however because of commoditization, we have to consider the ideology and theme from media. This makes a chaotic situation which makes our children argumentative. As a nation, if we are argumentative, we will never come to a consensus at any issue thus not only social but also economic development would be halted.

The advertisement programmes of different Medias have been widely criticized. Respondents urge that media survive by the advertisements. Within current climate of state policy, a little rule and regulation is available for advertisement policy. In order to earn money, media are forecasting any types of advertisement provided by the ‘buyer’. This teaches a number of things which is contrast to local cultural and tradition. One respondent views that “Currently advertisement and some other programmes forecasting by the Medias teach some unethical issues. You can see a number of advertisements teach the students how to be inattentive and irregular in attending schools and classes. Lying attitude is being also thought by the advertisement. Until and unless, the objectives of school and out-of-school provision will be the same, it will take a long time to achieve desired level of development”.

4.4. Gap in the School System in Contributing

Education of almost all the developed countries has been designed according to the need of present job market. Analyzing the trend of future job market is also considered in designing education. In order to progress economically, new sectors are developed in the context of globalization and business trend of 21st century. A manpower pattern is calculated. In the light of this calculation, different types of education and level of education are provided to create a working force. After the drop out, students join with the work force thus we need to understand what is the drop out rate and who are the drop out group and where are they joining as a workforce. Accordingly, education is needed to be provided designing decent curricula that includes necessary skills which is important for this particular drop out group in doing the job. It is also important to understand what kind and level of education is important for our work pattern. After determining it, country needs to emphasise to provide this education by ensuing required enrolment. Stopping drop out should be an agenda from a particular kind of education which is related to work. This is not currently practicing in Bangladeshi education system. Currently Bangladeshi education system is mainly concentrates on providing foundation for higher education. Pursuing higher education is considered as a fashion and tradition for privileged group. Higher education in Bangladesh does not necessarily provide public benefit while it provides private benefit, therefore not only privileged group but also others are more interested to go for higher education. Bangladesh needs to understand what kind of education is required for its present job pattern and the needs for future trends thereafter ensuring this kind of education according to the students’ capability is needed to be paid attention. However, the balance of income between different kinds of graduates also needs to be considered otherwise no one will be enthusiastic to procure the specific kind of education advocated by the government.

4.5. Investment and Return

Five tables are drawn in order to have a brief understanding of the investment made on education and its return. Before noting any remark from the data presented in the Tables, it is worthwhile to understand the relevancy of data, its collection process and the interpretation. Notes in this regards are followed underneath of each table.

The data presented in Table 1 have been compiled from different government documents which provide information on public revenue and development budget. Caution attempts were made in the process of compilation and calculation. The Table includes both development and revenue budgets invested to education. However, every cycle (i.e. primary, secondary, higher secondary and tertiary) is required a specific period to complete, therefore, it is important to calculate the interest rate on investment at every cycle which was not done. Parents and other sponsors also invest a substantial amount of fund for the development of education which is not included. If these were included investment towards formal provision of education would be higher. However, it is now evident that being a very underdeveloped country, formal provision of education receives the highest priority in allocating the fund in Bangladesh. But we should not compare with other countries as investment in a sector always depends on the total economy of a country.

Table 1: Unit Cost subsided by exchequer based on development and revenue

Rate of Return 1

Source: Different government documents

Table 2: Return from school and other provisions

Rate of Return 2

Source: Analysis of data gathered from the respondents

Data presented in the Tables 2 and 3 are quite similar. Two Tables are made in order to understand the different comparison using same data. Table 2 focuses on comparison on school provision to others while Table 3 tries to understand the comparison between economic and social development. Data used both the Tables are collected through the questionnaire. Interview data is also used to testify and nullify the data achieved through questionnaire. Questionnaire data used in this Table are proven to be valid as they are the products of testify and nullify test through random interviews. Questionnaires, used to conduct this survey, exercise a number of indirect indicators to understand the use of education of workers in order to perform their jobs and regular tasks required to undertake the social life and human needs perspective.

Table 3: Comparison of Economic and social return

Rate of Return 3

Source: Analysis of data gathered from the respondents

Table 4: Return after deduction of unemployment

Rate of Return 4

Source: Analysis of data gathered from the respondents; Provisional census report 2001

Data used in Table 4 are the products of both primary and secondary sources. Census report is used to understand the unemployment rate of different types of graduates. Thereafter, amount of total unused education is determined. This unused education mainly impacts on economic return. However, if the trend remains, it will affect on social return in the long run, since Alam (2007) explores that educated unemployment group bring social decadence and unrest. Table 4 shows that within the current climate, huge amount of education is totally unused in general. Total unused education is the highest at tertiary level where public subsidy is also the highest. Moreover, tertiary graduates practice a high level of corruption which is lowering the social return for tertiary provision. In fact, return from tertiary level is low as a whole; however the two reasons identified (higher unemployment rate amongst tertiary graduates and practice of huge corruption by tertiary graduates) force to have a negative return from the tertiary level (see table 5).

Table 5: Individual use of education of each stage of education ladder

Rate of Return 5

Source: Analysis of data gathered from the respondents

In the ladder of education, primary education is considered as a starting-edge while higher education is the ending-edge. It is factual that starting-edge of ladder is always required. The use of middle stages and final stage of the ladders always depends on situation/circumstance. While, if ending-stage of the ladder is used, starting and middle stages will be used automatically. We have identified five stages of education ladder in Bangladesh. Efforts were made to understand the specific use of each provision of education. Primary education is the starting-edge of the ladder thus it is used every time if education ladder is used. Considering this, it is realistic that use of primary education should be the highest. Table 5 shows that the use of primary education is 12.1% while tertiary provision scored 1.9%. The reasons of this negative score achieved by tertiary level have been discussed earlier.

About the author

Goutam Roy

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