Socialist student leaders from five countries say governments need to do more to support education
Left-leaning student leaders from five Asian countries, including Bangladesh, have urged their governments to substantially increase annual budget allocation for education, saying the sector does not get as much attention as it needs.
Representatives from All Nepal National Independent Student Union (ANNISU), the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), the Socialist Students Union from Sri Lanka, the League of Filipino Students, and the Socialist Student Front (SSF) from Bangladesh collectively made the statement during a round-table dialogue, organized by Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
Reaz Ahmad, executive editor of Dhaka Tribune, moderated the dialogue.
Speaking of education in her country, Kara Lenina Taggaoa, national spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students in the Philippines, said the Philippine government allocates only 2-3% of its Gross Domestic Production (GDP) for education.
“Most of the allocation for education in our national budget is invested in private institutes, when only 8% of the schools across the country are privately run.”
Moreover, the Philippine government is further cutting down on the allocations by closing down schools set up for indigenous peoples, Taggaoa claimed.
She added that the government in her country was also detaining students who raise their voice for their rights, and demand increased budget allocation.
Shanika Silva, an active member of the Socialist Students Union in Sri Lanka, said the country’s government allocates less than 2% of its GDP for education.
“But we demand an allocation of at least 6% of the GDP for education; the current allocation is not enough,” she said at the event.
Vennusha Priyaa, youth member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), said: “At a glance, we have to say that the education system in Malaysia is good. But this year, the government reduced the allocation for education, and now only 20% of our budget is allocated for education.”
She further said, more focus and funding are needed in the country’s schooling system.
Gajendra Prasad Dev, national secretary of the ANNISU – the student wing of the ruling party in Nepal – said the Nepali government allocates only 10% of its national budget for education, where the sector needs 20%.
“We are not satisfied with our budget allocation,” he said at the dialogue.
Al Kaderi Joy, president of the Socialist Student Front (Samajtantrik Chhatra Front) in Bangladesh, said the expense of education is rising day by day.
He said the national budget allocation for education amounted to only 2.2% of the GDP.
“The entire budget for education includes funding for research work at 28 ministries, as well as the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant; very little is spent on the education sector itself,” he said.
The visiting student leaders also said they were impressed by the number of students who are involved in politics, and rights movements in Bangladesh.