The Himalayan Times, January 19, 2019
Even though school completion rates of South Asian countries have risen, they are losing the equivalent of 4.3 years of schooling due to low quality of education, according to a report.
According to the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, South Asian countries have lost the productivity of education due to inadequate human capital investment. Human Capital Investment of Nepal is 0.49, Afghanistan 0.39, Bangladesh 0.48, India 0.44, and Pakistan 0.39.
Speaking at a programme organised here today to discuss the key findings of World Development Report on education by World Bank Group and Institute for Integrated Development Studies, Practice Manager of World Bank Cristian Aedo said early childhood development in South Asia was very poor.
“South Asia is home to 40 per cent of the world’s school-age population and 34 per cent of the world’s youths between 15 and 24 years of age. But 89 million children below five years of age in South Asia are at risk of not reaching their development milestone,” shared Aedo, adding, “Except Maldives, the governments in South Asia spend only one to three per cent of their education expenditure on early childhood development programmes.”
He also said that low quality teaching, inadequate teaching-learning materials and poor school management contributed to low learning outcomes.
Meanwhile, proportion of children exposed to multiple risks, including poverty, malnutrition, poor health and unstimulating home environments dropped from 65 per cent in 2004 to 53 per cent in 2010. 55 per cent of children between three and six years of age attend pre-primary centres in South Asia. Enrolment rates have risen rapidly in Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives and India.
Pre-primary gross enrolment rate of Nepal has increased six times in the last two decades, shared senior education specialist of World Bank Mohan Aryal. He said the gross enrolment had increased from 12 per cent in 1996 to 86 per cent in 2017. However, Nepal lacks a comprehensive and a coherent ECD strategy to cover entirety of the ECD age group. “ECD services are sectoral and fragmented — different ECD services are provided by different sectors without linking them to the overall development of children,” Aryal said.
In the same way, speaking at the programme, joint secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Baikuntha Aryal said the government was working to enrol all the children in school. “97.2 per cent children of school going age have already been enrolled in the school.