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Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh organised a consultation meeting in Tangail on Saturday, 30 July 2022. This is the third in a series of discussions, preceded by meetings in Rangpur and Khulna. The subsequent two consultations will be for the Sylhet and Chittagong districts.

The objective of the Tangail meeting was to engage with the stakeholder representatives of the district to explore their experiences and expectations regarding various national developmental issues. The exchanges took place from the perspectives of the disadvantaged communities, including the Adibashis in Madhupur. The discussion was attended by 102 participants. These consultations are not open to the media; a separate social meeting with local media professionals was also held.

In Tangail, most participants spontaneously focused on the current challenges of the education sector. They emphasised that the country’s ability to ensure quality education will be critical in defining the next phase of national development.

The participants pointed out that poverty still hinders children’s educational attainment, particularly those from indigenous backgrounds. Despite a rise in the overall education participation rate, concerns over its quality are intensifying. Low competencies are leading to skills mismatch and shrinking job outcomes. Factors resulting in poor educational standards include biased grading of scripts, political considerations in the appointment of teachers and discrepancy in salaries and benefits.

It was maintained that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the challenges in the education sector manifested in the increasing rates of dropouts, early marriages and child labour.

It was also pointed out that a declining trend of children and youth engagement in cultural activities has set in, particularly in the backdrop of rising socio-religious pressures and intolerance in the political arena.

The participants opined for an integrated, universal national education system where teachers would be appointed exclusively based on merit and paid appropriate salaries.