UNESCO Dhaka has implemented a project on ‘Strengthening Primary Education Governance’ in collaboration with Directorate of Primary Education under Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME). As a part of project activity an Action Research on Primary Education Governance was conducted and Study Visit to China, Malaysia and Indonesia was organized for 105 teachers, head teachers and officials from DPE and MOPME and parliamentarians to identify governance issues in the primary education system.
The planning and management of education system in Bangladesh is highly centralized. Primary education governance is affected by not only resource constraints but also the transparency and accountability of role and responsibility of different actors from the policy to implementation levels. Other key challenges for improving governance is in the area of school-based management and professional development of teachers in the country. A number of steps have been taken to improve governance such as the provision for School Management Committees (SMC) and PTA. However, the effectiveness of such bodies remains a concern.
From the study visits in the selected countries participants gained experiences that enrich their individual understanding regarding school based management, implementation of primary education and equity, teachers’ training/governance and capacity building process, use of ICTs in the classroom situation and training for teachers, need assessment process for subject based training, recruitment process, promotion, performance evaluation, financing, etc. The education system of Malaysia, Indonesia are practicing the decentralized planning and management for promoting transparency and accountability among the teachers, head-teachers, SMC members and officials.
The project also conducted two day long Feedback workshop after completing all the visits. Participants reviewed their experiences and prepared an action plan focusing the areas of financing, teacher’s recruitment policy, capacity building for teaching personnel and School level management with indication of long-term as well as short term effect to address issues regarding governance from school to central level management and submitted to the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education for consideration to bring possible changes in the primary education system as per the country context.
Based on the findings from action research, study visits and workshops, a Primary Education Governance Guidebook has been drafted focusing key issues of financing and equity, school based management, teachers’ governance for adoption by the MOPME, DPE and all primary schools in the country.
In Bangladesh, there has been large scale donor coordination in primary education through Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP) since 1998, with participation of eleven development partners in the PEDP II and III. UNESCO, as non-funding agency, has had difficulties to effectively participate in this mechanism in view of the limited financial resources and staff in this particular sub-sector. Since the 3rd phase of PEDP has started in 2012, UNESCO needs to identify key specific areas of expertise and collaborate with this programme through providing technical inputs in particular the resources developed under the above project on good governance of primary education.