EU transfers Tk 423 cr for education reform

The European Union transferred EUR 42 million (423 crore Taka) to the government of Bangladesh to support “key national reforms” in the education sector.

“With this grant, the EU recognises and supports the government’s commitment to the development of human capital, the eradication of poverty and inequalities, along with its commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” the EU mission in Dhaka said.

This is the second disbursement under the EU sector budget support ‘Human Capital Development Programme 2021’, which focuses on strengthening the education and skills sector of Bangladesh with specific focus on primary, as well as on technical and vocational education and training.

Budget support is a means of delivering aid and results in support of EU partners' reform efforts and the Sustainable Development Goals.

It involves (i) dialogue with a partner country to agree on the reforms or development results which budget support can contribute to; (ii) an assessment of progress achieved; (iii) financial transfers to the treasury account of the partner country once those results have been achieved; and (iv) capacity development support.

The disbursement of this second payment comes after a positive decision of the Budget Support Steering Committee of the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in May 2021, the EU said.

In line with the National Education Policy and National Skills Development Policy, the EU support aims to contribute government of Bangladesh’s own reform agenda and institutional capacity towards a comprehensive education and skills development approach.

“Education is fundamental for the economic growth of a country and remains at the core of EU’s development cooperation. Reaping the maximum benefit of Bangladesh’s demographic dividend will largely depend on an inclusive and equitable quality Primary Education and Technical and Vocational Education system designed to cater for the future job market and employment generation,” Ambassador of the EU Rensje Teerink was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The EU is concerned, however, about the continued school closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the pandemic situation allows it and when effective precautionary measures can be taken, the re-opening of schools must proceed as soon as possible, in particular because access to alternative distant schooling solutions remains a challenge for a large number of students, especially the marginalised ones,” she added.

The programme of support to education reforms intends to provide a total of EUR 217 million as budget support linked to jointly-agreed performance indicators. The programme addresses core elements of system strengthening and policy development. Technical assistance is also available to support the cluster of institutions responsible to coordinate and deliver education reforms.