Professor Muzaffer Ahmad’s Thoughts on Bangladesh Education

S. M. Rayhanul Islam
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017


Late Professor Dr. Muzaffar Ahmed, one of the leading economists of Bangladesh, had a great contribution in Bangladesh’s economic and educational development. As the pioneer of different civil society organizations and as a researcher in the areas of development debates he devoted much of his work in the area of education and human development. The book “Essays on Education in Bangladesh” by Muzaffer Ahmad comprises of the papers and articles which he wrote at different times for different audience, either presented in seminars/symposiums or published in journals/magazines. A total eight articles are included here which capture socio-economic and politico-economic aspects of education sector in Bangladesh with historical flashback on successes or failures.

In the first article ‘Equity, Excellence and Efficiency in Higher Education: Certain Conceptual Issues’, Professor Ahmad  discusses the conceptual dimensions of desired outcome of the education system in general and higher education system in particular. This article clearly depicts the interrelationship and interconnectedness of different tiers of education. The issues of Equity, Excellence and Efficiency are of great importance for higher education to play its due role in national development through appropriate development of human potential. In the paper ‘Recent Developments in the Education Sector of Bangladesh’, the author delves deeper into an analysis of some of the determinants of the changes and regression in the education outcome of Bangladesh. In this paper, Dr. Muzaffer Ahmad presents almost exhaustive information on trends of achievements and failures of education outcome in Bangladesh.


The third article ‘Primary Education: Finance and Quality Issues’ focuses on Primary Education which has emerged as the thrust area for sustainable human resource development. This article covers two vital issues related to (i) Financing of Primary education, and (ii) Quality Assurance in Primary Education. Professor Ahmad emphasizes on taking effective measures to achieve both quantitative and qualitative goals of universal primary education in the near future. In the paper ‘Financing Education in Bangladesh’, the author covers all important and possible aspects of educational financing. He discusses the value of education, development and education, issues of educational finance, emerging issues of funding education, governance and educational finance etc. As the resources available for education in Bangladesh are starkly inadequate, the eminent economist Muzaffer Ahmad suggests: “If the country has to meet the challenge of quantitative expansion and of bridging the quality gap additional resources has to be mobilized through cost efficiency, innovative use of existing resources, cost sharing through tax-induced donation and discipline in financial administration.”


The fifth article ‘Education, Empowerment and Governance’ discusses the state of education in South Asian countries in relation to the present-day governance situation in these countries. The author concludes this article by arguing, “Education in South Asia today is used to support the superstructure of governance and the governments failed to build it as an infrastructure for democratic governance”. In the paper ‘Constitutional Obligation and Educational Development in Bangladesh’, Professor Muzaffer Ahmad draws our attention to the “Article 17” of the directive principle of Bangladesh constitution which recognizes the right to education for all and requires that the quality and content of education is to be uniform. He also discuses some emerging policy issues and challenges which have been ignored over the years; investment and return, internal inefficiencies, external efficiency, governance of education system, equity, quality of education, and teacher education.


In the seventh article ‘Education and Governance in Bangladesh’, the author attempts to discuss the educational sector issues in the context of governance and revisit some of the issues and policies that have been raised and reviewed earlier. Dr. Muzaffer Ahmad argues for a people-centered educational strategy for the enrichment and empowerment of its citizens. The last article of the book ‘The State of Science and Technology Policy in Bangladesh’ depicts a sorrow picture of science and technology education and research in our country. The author observes that in Bangladesh science and technology policy is underdeveloped and is not a priority concern of the politico-bureaucratic administration. Professor Ahmad concludes this article; “Unless education is set with the bias for scientific enquiry our capacity to develop science and technology manpower and infrastructure will remain low.” Finally, we must say that in this book, the late economist Dr. Muzaffer Ahmad attempts to portray the overall scenario of education sector in Bangladesh which will be one of the most useful pieces of policy analyses on education.


(The writer is an independent researcher. E-mail:

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